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Know your neighbor: Kai Yin Cheung, working at United Social Center

I met Kai Yin, KY to many, for the first time about a year ago to talk about our brand new venture, LocalHood. She was presented to us as someone very involved with the neighbourhood community in the Sai wan hood. We had briefly spoken on avenues for collaboration.

Over the last year we have seen her in action time and again, speaking to the locals, distributing flyers or involved in different campaigns.

Fast forward a year and a bit. We meet again to understand better who KY is.

“I work with a NGO, United Social Service Centre, that manages community project in Sai wan including urban development and Environmental protection. Since the MTR extension to western district, the local community is under pressure to change. Gentrification has followed. Our concerns is how to strike a balance between development and conservation. Between old and new.”

“For example, the government wants to take over the IG pier in Kennedy town for development”.

“Our job is to advocate to the government that the local community wants to retain the place. We do not have enough open space in the community. For eg if you want to walk the dog or go cycling or skate boarding many Sai Wan people often go the Kennedy Town. But if that area is developed then these kinds of activities cannot exist due to a government ordinance. We have a campaign on Facebook called ‘Pop-up pier’ to raise awareness about this plan and garner support against it.”

She continues, “In the same way, some old buildings in the Western District are bought by developers to build high rise or commercial ventures. A Hotel will soon be built on Thrid Street and the public toilets in the Tak Sing Lane will be destroyed in favour of a high-rise building. Of course, we are not against bars and cafes opening. However, we believe that the resident community needs to know about these developments or when liquor licenses given. They should at the least be aware about what’s going on in their hood.”

Another project KY is involved with is linked to the Governments waste charging scheme. Under this scheme effective from 2019, residents will pay for the waste they produce.

“We think this scheme is a good opportunity to create awareness about clean recycling. There are non-recyclables like laminated wrapping paper or sanitary napkins, often pollute waste in the recyclable bin. As the result, the most of this waste ends up in the land fill.”

Education to the community is a very important part of what KY does. “The resident community members collect all the recyclables and bring to us. We teach them how to sort well.”

She hopes that this scheme this will encourage the residents to reduce the waste that they actually produce by sorting it and practising clean recycling.

KY also runs a barter booth in Sai Ying Pun, where residents exchange second hand goods like toys, book, CDs etc. These goods can be reused and do not go to the landfills. In addition to promoting pre-loved items, KY wishes that residents reflect on their lifestyle.

“The question we want people to ask is do you buy things they actually need?”

She tells me that they are still finding way to engage the expat community. “It would be great if more of the expat community gets involved. We do not have experience of interacting with foreigners. We do not know what they are interested in. So, we sometimes take help of local shops who translate our leaflets and distribute it to their clients, who are mainly expat community. We would be happy if LocalHood can help us with this.”

I’m already sold on this small lady and her great ideas.

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