Migrants enjoy home help
The year-long initiative was launched by Friends of KMB (FRN) and the Hong Kong branch of the International Social Service (ISS), a non-profit group that supports migrants. Set up by Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) in 1995, FRN consists of about 3,100 staff and the company's "fans" that include regular passengers.
KMB has been involved in a host of charitable activities organised by other organisations, such as the Agency for Volunteer Service. The "Hong Kong, My New Home" campaign was the first corporate social responsibility programme initiated by KMB, says Winnie Ho, corporate affairs director.
"We approached ISS with the idea of reaching out to new migrants and poor households," she says. "We tailored activities to help them learn more about the community, strengthen their sense of belonging and help them adapt."
Carmen Ng, a customer service officer at KMB, says the company supports migrants because KMB is headquartered in the Sham Shui Po area, home to a big migrant population. The initiative started with participants - mainly women and children - taking a free bus ride to major attractions such as the airport and Tsing Ma Bridge. Ng says the company found that migrants were afraid of leaving their neighbourhood because they were unfamiliar with other places.
FRN and ISS also organised tours to landmarks symbolic of the development of Hong Kong, such as the International Financial Centre in Central and the Ping Shan Heritage Trail in Yuen Long. Other activities included English lessons and a tour to see the Christmas lights in Tsim Sha Tsui East.
"Through these activities, participants were able to make friends and build their social networks," Ng says.
The initiative also included a visit to a home for the elderly in Yau Tong where the participants organised singing and dance performances for its residents.
"We wanted to let the participants know that it isn't difficult at all to be a volunteer and contribute to the community," Ng says.
A recent migrant from the mainland, Mrs Chan, was referred by ISS to join the programme.
"Although I had already been in Hong Kong for a while, by the time I joined the programme, I seldom went out as I was afraid of losing my way," she says. "I learned more about the community from the project - such as how to make better use of the public transport - and became happier and more relaxed."
The programme, which lasted from July 2009 to June last year, attracted 424 migrants and nearly 220 FRN volunteers. Building on its success, FRN and ISS recently organised games, handicrafts and discussions to raise environmental awareness among new migrants.
- The project won the 2009-10 Best Corporate Volunteer Service Project Competition, organised by the Social Welfare Department
- Participants visited the Hong Kong Jockey Club Drug InfoCentre in Admiralty and learned how to prevent drug problems at home
- They also went to the Central Library in Causeway Bay and learned to use its free facilities