(video) Shining light without returns

Video: https://youtu.be/5HxCJYRYXRY

Corresponding article on tyr.hk : http://tyr.journalism.hkbu.edu.hk/?p=2935

“Before, I tried my best to become a good journalist,” she says. “But was that what I really wanted to do? Was that really my life’s purpose? Was that really my dream? I kind of woke up and thought: this is not.” says Ms Pink Lee.


Pink Lee Wai-ki was originally a financial reporter, but a trip to Tibet in 2006 made her rethink life’s purpose.


She says she felt a calling to help people in need, so she left her job and used her savings to travel and volunteer in different countries, such as Colombia, Mongolia and India.


After years of travelling, she realises that real happiness and meaning of life lies in helping others without expecting returns, she says. “It’s just because you want to do it.”


This was why she repeatedly refused job offerings in data analysis and finance reporting, she says.


She was free to switch from being a journalist to a full-time volunteer for she “had no family”, Ms Lee says.


Growing up in a single-parent family with an extremely quiet, violent and mentally abusive father, she left her family immediately after she graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and found a job as a journalist.


She also did not worry that travelling around the world alone might be dangerous because she knew how to take care of herself.



A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, 2015, killing nearly 10,000 people.


Ms Lee went to the mountainous epicenter, Gorkha, as a long-term volunteer leading a volunteer group in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.


Soon after the earthquake, she raised over $400,000 for relief work, distributed over eight tonnes of relief materials to the victims and helped 700 families.


To better manage the funding and relief work, she founded Light On, a non-profit organization with her friends, which aimed to build at least two schools in the local community.


She says Nepal had serious corruption and bureaucracy issues so if she did not start the reconstruction projects, the people might need to wait for at least two more years, despite the donations Nepal received after the earthquake.


Light On

She is not paid for her charity work. She writes columns and teaches yoga for a living.


The profit of the Light On Cafe on Cheung Chau Island also helped fund the organization’s work.


Ms Lee says, “In the cafe, you see a lot of kind-hearted people. Although we are not professional baristas, guests are willing to pay several times the price to buy a cup of coffee, so as to contribute to the reconstruction work in Nepal.”


The cafe was shut down in December 2015 because it could not meet the property owner’s profit share target. After that, she was offered half of a DIY stall space in Discovery Bay for five months in 2016 for free.


“Through our participation in this DIY market, I want to promote Light On’s work, recruit volunteers and expand my network of organisations that may be interested in our charity work,” Ms Lee says.


Her current projects also include bringing volunteers from Hong Kong to Nepal to help with the school reconstruction, Ms Lee says.



“I hope to create a win-win situation: bring hope to the Nepalese, and help volunteers from Hong Kong transform by learning to live like a local while volunteering overseas and not to expect returns when helping others,” she says.
“I’m optimistic that volunteering will be accepted by more and more Hong Kong people. Our team has 11 people now. We have the same goals. I believe more and more people will get to know our work and philosophy,” Ms Lee says.

Video: https://youtu.be/5HxCJYRYXRY

Corresponding article on tyr.hk : http://tyr.journalism.hkbu.edu.hk/?p=2935

Corresponding pages in the Young Reporter Magazine: p.12-13



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