Healing a young Hong Kong mother’s pain

OneSky Family Mentors are Strengthening the Bonds Between Parents and Children.

When Jenny, a young mum of two, first met OneSky Family Mentor Yannis at the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development (OSGC) in Hong Kong a year ago, she was frustrated and angry.

“I hate her,” Jenny said, speaking of her 5-year-old daughter, Yuet. Yannis could sense that behind Jenny’s harsh words there was a complicated story – one she was determined to get to the bottom of.

Jenny had visited the OSGC with Yuet and younger sibling Hei, aged 3. Jenny’s disheveled appearance and anxious expression caused Yannis to realize that this was a family hurting and in need of compassion and support.

“After several conversations, I understood that her issues stemmed from a troubled marriage and her daughters’ condition,” Yannis recalled, explaining that Hei suffered from autism.

Jenny had blamed herself when Hei was diagnosed and was determined to spend her life taking care of her daughter’s special needs. However, as time went by, Jenny became exhausted by the reality of parenting a child on the spectrum. Feeling lost and alone, she became depressed, neglected Yuet and was barely able to care for herself.

Both mother and daughter grew apart. Jenny became angry and the only time she spoke to Yuet was to bark orders about what needed to be done to help care for her younger sister. Even at her tender young age, Yuet came to realize that life was all about her little sister and that her mother could not give her the attention she so desperately craved. So, as children do, she began behaving badly, fighting with Hei and losing her temper.

The destructive pattern became a viscous cycle: the more Yuet rebelled, the more pressure her unstable mother felt. Jenny eventually reacted, screaming her feelings of hatred and guilt toward Yuet.

Fortunately, Jenny had come to the OSGC before things spiraled more out of control.

After listening to Jenny, Yannis focused on rebuilding the broken relationships between Jenny and herself, her daughters, and the community. Yannis became a bridge between the mother and both daughters, helping to ease their anxiety and emotions.

OneSky’s Family Mentors walked alongside the mother, while helping Yuet and Hei to build a healthier sibling relationship. Jenny was encouraged to appreciate and recognize Yuet’s effort by making her a handicraft. When she saw Yuet smiling from ear to ear, she suddenly saw her daughter as an individual with her own needs.

Family Mentor Yannis was so touched by Jenny’s progress that she decided to offer Jenny a personal gift – a pair of earrings with a hoop surrounded by tiny flowers, depicting the mother as the core of a family in her daughters’ mind.

“Please cherish yourself and recognize your efforts,’’ Yannis told Jenny. “Only by doing so, can you treat yourself and your daughters nicely.”

Jenny was overwhelmed. “This gift is too much for me. I am not brave enough to wear this and I don’t deserve it. But I am willing to learn to face myself and be kind to myself, so I shall try to put them on,” replied Jenny.

With OneSky’ support in understanding the role she plays as a caregiver to her young and vulnerable children; Jenny has come to better know herself and is on the road to rebuilding her relationship with her daughters. Meanwhile, Yuet has stopped picking fights with her little sister and the two have learned to play together.

Recently, Jenny visited the OneSky Global Centre in Sham Shui Po with the girls. She looked different this time. Tidy and wearing a beautiful outfit, a pair of earrings were dangling from her ears.

“Do you love them now?” asked Yannis warmly, noticing how happy the young girls and their mom appeared. Holding them tight, Jenny turned to look at her daughters and smiled genuinely without saying a word. The answer was clear.

In Hong Kong, OneSky supports children and families living on the margins by providing caregiver skills training and a safe, educational play space. Working with NGOs in the community, OneSky supports families with counseling and ancillary services.

Sandy’s Super Awesome Post

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OneSkyHeroes – Generali believes in the importance of families, that’s why it believes in OneSky

A passionate partnership in Hong Kong – Generali finds a kindred spirit in OneSky

Generali’s reach is global with a presence in over 50 countries. But its Italian roots and culture are still evident. For Josi Chiang, Head of Generali’s The Human Safety Net program (THSN) in Hong Kong, that was why it first recognized OneSky for All Children (OneSky) as a potential partner.

“As an Italian company, Generali holds true to its roots. We value the importance of families and of the time they spend together,” said Josi.

“So, when we were looking to launch our local THSN program as part of Generali’s global movement, families were always at the forefront of our thinking.”

Josi Chiang, center

“We were looking for a local NGO that assists vulnerable families in Hong Kong with emphasis on very young children. The formative years are when children develop their social, cognitive and physical skills and that’s the time we think we can make the most difference.”

To this end, THSN has pledged to fund OneSky’s Family Centre in Sham Shui Po for children aged 0-6 and their Family Mentors who are essential to providing loving and responsive care to the children. The partnership will include supporting the development of OneSky’s program in the center and volunteering by local Generali employees.

Photo credit: Vicky Chan, Avoid Obvious Architects

For OneSky’s Director of Development in Hong Kong, Susanna Lee, Generali’s passion and energy has been very inspiring. It’s clear it will be an exciting partnership.

Susanna joined a two-day THSN workshop with Generali staff recently and left elated.

“I just felt so energized and moved by their commitment. It’s impossible not to look forward and imagine what we can achieve together,” said Susanna. “There was so much passion and creativity in the room.”

Susanna Lee

Also looking ahead, Josi believes the partnership will mean a better future for Hong Kong’s most vulnerable children.

“Hong Kong is a developed city, but at the same time, space is a problem and inequality is huge. One-fifth of the city’s population lives below the poverty line and many are living in cramped homes without any space to grow and play.”

It’s a huge challenge but Generali is keen to play their part in bringing lasting change.

Generali and OneSky staff.

“It is disheartening to see so many lacking opportunities and having such a difficult start in life,” added Josi. “We believe everyone should have a real chance. OneSky knows that they can help children by providing space to play and grow, and help develop skills with love and care.

“In doing so they are assisting families as well as our future communities. Hopefully, this vicious cycle of poverty can be broken.”

Even before social distancing, Hong Kong kids needed more safe space

In 2018, when my son was two, we began this project for OneSky in Sham Shui Po and he helped color in the floor plans. A year later he saw the plans animated and even visited the site.

Of course, he was excited about the play equipment but he especially loved the big windows.

In 2020, aged four, he finally got to attend the opening. My decision to share the process with him had been spontaneous but it turned out to be very special, not least because our world has changed so much in this short time.

Now, in July 2020, Hong Kong is experiencing another Covid-19 surge. Public spaces have proven to be highly important to maintain social distance. In Sham Shui Po, subdivided flats suffer their own lack of space with all the physical and emotional stress that entails.

WATCH: See architect Vicky Chan visit the OneSky Global Centre with his son and his friend.

In the meantime, schools have closed early for summer vacation. K-1 students have been stuck at home since January. Keeping children engaged until school opens again is vital for their own development. It also helps parents and reduces conflict. I know it is not easy to deal with a very active child 24/7.

Pandemic preparation is not something we had planned in 2018 when we started out, but surface treatments in the center were designed with wellbeing in mind. Its large play area with big open windows will keep children in the neighborhood engaged, safe and healthy.

When children finally entered the site, it was so much fun for them to explore. They loved the windows. They let in so much light and allowed the child to build their own relationship with the space.

For me the site is special. Among my memories are the many human touches that make it work. During construction, the contractor had difficulty attempting to create the curvy line along both sides of the stairs. My team and I went and hand painted the guiding line for them to trace. It worked beautifully. Being hands-on made it feel very different to the digital approach of modern architecture.

Recently I climbed the nearby mountain and looked back down onto the OneSky building on its historical corner of Sham Shui Po. The neighborhood is changing.  Newly developed private residences mean space is further consumed while others are displaced.

My wish for the OneSky building is for it to remain humble and continue to serve as the guardian. I believe it will transform the neighborhood in a positive way for all.

Find out more about the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development and how it brings together children, families and caregivers to play, learn and train while creating a better future for vulnerable children in Hong Kong.

Sham Shui Po Community Day (Cancelled)

Due to the recent resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Government’s renewed restrictions on social distancing, OneSky has decided to cancel its Community Day schedule for Saturday, 11 July at the OneSky Global Centre.

The health and safety of the children and families we serve is our absolute priority. The centre will undergo a deep cleaning this weekend and reopen on Monday, 13 July. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Please call 3598 9338 should you require further information.

Thank you for your understanding.

OneSky for all children