Flying Young Program – Christmas Party and Outing
Christmas is about giving, sharing and spending time with family. In the spirit of the season, the Flying Young Volunteers hosted a full day Christmas outing on Yim Tin Tsai island on 15 December. Over twenty volunteers gathered with forty children and their parents at the Caritas Community Centre in Ngau Tau Kok to catch a coach to the scenic fishing village of Sai Kung. From there, the group boarded two ‘kaitos’ (small family-run ferries) for the 15 minute crossing to the tiny but historical Yim Tin Tsai Island.
Yim Tin Tsai -meaning Little Salt Pan in Cantonese- is famed for its salt farms. It also has one of the oldest Catholic churches in Hong Kong, built in 1890 by the Rev. Joseph Freinademetz. The reverend also ensured that all of the island dwellers were baptised which resulted in the island being staunchly Catholic for several generations. In the 1970s, the islanders began migrating overseas in search of better fortunes and today, the island lies deserted. Recently it has benefitted from a revival of local Hakka culture
Upon arriving at the island, we went straight to the Church where our Hospitaller, Désirée Jebsen, led the group in a short prayer to bless the families and children. This was followed by a delicious lunch at one of the village restaurants, where everyone enjoyed a famous local delicacy, the woodfire chicken and other Hakka dishes.
A highlight was a tour of the Arts Festival by two curators who explained the island’s history, deeply rooted in Catholicism, as well the art pieces dotted around the island. A particularly eye-catching piece was a painting named ‘Five.Two.Nine’, a reference to the biblical story of 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish whereas the 9 refers to a festive Hakka dish served during Chinese New Year.
This was a day of ‘firsts’ for many of the children: first ferry ride, first time on an island, first cultural tour, first time to sing Christmas carols and last but not least, first encounter with Santa Claus who even brought presents! All in all a memorable day for the children of Ngau Tau Kok and their families as well as for the volunteers.