Friday, March 6, 2009

Allan reports from Hong Kong (again...)

Yes, I know that I seem to have spent a lot of time up here in Hong Kong, but I do love the place, and I have many great friends up here as well. My partner, Pete, and I flew up here just two weeks ago for our umpteenth visit. However, Pete flew out of Hong Kong earlier this morning on his way back home to Melbourne, in order to attend the Daylesford Chill-Out Festival this coming weekend, and then he is off to Sydney and then Brisbane for a few days. In the meantime, I will remain on here in Hong Kong for the next 10 days. We will both meet up back at home (in Melbourne) gain on Monday 16th when I return from Hong Kong.

I have lost count of my visits here to Hong Kong, in particular over the past two years, but it is proba
bly 10-11 visits, totaling probably 6-7 months. Goodness...! I suddenly realized that this means I have spent upwards of 25% of my time here in just the last two years, ignoring various other visits I made here prior to the last two years.

Regular listeners to Orange Ribbon will know that we occasionally chat with Reggie Ho here in Hong Kong, and who gives us an update on what's been happening for the gay & lesbian scene here. Reggie was last on Orange Ribbon on 17th January. (If you missed it, you can click on the "Podcasts" tab on the JOY website, search for "Orange Ribbon" program, click on "Previous episodes...", then search for the program edition for 17th January.) Well, I hope to catch up with Reggie next week sometime for lunch/dinner and no doubt I will get some more local news I can report on when I return.

However, last Monday I caught up with Chung To, the Founder and Chairperson of the Chi Heng Foundation ( Although born in Hong Kong, Chung moved with his family to the U.S.A. when he was 15. He subsequently went to college (university), obtained a Graduate and Masters degree in business finance, and then worked in merchant banking in New York for several years. At the age of 27 years he was then transferred to Hong Kong with his banking employer to take up a senior role here. But as will be revealed in an upcoming interview, Chung got involved in helping Aids-affected children in Hong Kong, and more extensively in mainland China. He started the Chi Heng Foundation which (among many other activities) now provides financial support for living and schooling expenses for around 7,000 Aids-affected children in Mainland China.

His work with Chi Heng Foundation became a full-time role, and so a few years ago he gave up his banking career and now works full-time as the volunteer Chairperson for his Chi Heng Foundation. But he hopes to be able to get back to some (personal) income-producing activities at some stage as he can't live forever with no income to support himself.

Chung To is an amazing Chinese gay and Aids activist, with a deep concern and interest in the welfare of mainland Chinese children who have been affected in some way by Aids... either by having parents or siblings living with (or have died of) Aids, or who themselves are living with HIV.

Chung is a very busy man, and travels a lot through mainland China keeping touch with the work that the Chi Heng Foundation undertakes. However, he set aside an hour for me last Monday afternoon to record an interview which I will be presenting on Orange Ribbon after I return to Melbourne... most probably it will be the program for 25th March.

So please stay tuned for updates, and the most likely date of 25th March when I will present to you my interview with this deeply driven and concerned local who has set aside his own career (and stable income...) in order to start the Chi Heng Foundation and to assist so many children in mainland China.

I will be returning to Melbourne on 16th March, almost immediately to the Melbourne Queer Film Festival which I shall be attending for most sessions, so I probably won't be on Orange Ribbon until the 25th March when I will present to you my recent chat with Chung To. Looking forward to talking to you all then.

Allan Smales in Hong Kong

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