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A tribute to the Banana Teacher

High in the mountains in the north of Thailand, there were once lots of students who loved learning, but they were so poor in the refugee village that volunteer teachers had to come to teach them.

I first met Yeung Hung-tak in Fook Wah Secondary School in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in 1996. He was the class master teaching Chinese and mathematics, while I taught English and science.

He was a kind and diligent teacher, often helping me write neatly on the board. He loved the students so much and imparted good values to them.

He planted many kinds of bananas, so he was known as the Banana Teacher. His wife was a beautiful Burmese woman teaching in a kindergarten. They had three children: two sons aged two and three, as well as a daughter aged three months. He put the baby girl in a box at the entrance.

Yeung was a devoted Catholic. We went to Sunday Mass together. The church door keeper was his best friend and would invite us to have tea at his home with his wife and two sons.

At the end of the school term, we trained our students to perform a drama of the Prodigal Son. The naughtiest student, Wong Man-kwong, acted as the Prodigal Son.

When I left the school for Hong Kong, Yeung gave me a big box of bananas.

I returned to the school after the summer vacation, but I could not see Yeung or his family. The church doorkeeper told me that he found Yeung’s dead body in his banana field with seven bullets in his body.

He reported it to the police, but they had not yet caught the murderer. His wife and three children returned to the Union of Myanmar, while his ashes were brought to China for his parents.

It was really a tragedy. We lost our Banana Teacher forever.

After 14 years, I received a phone call from Wong Man-kwong, my former naughty student, who had become a mature man. He had come to Hong Kong to work. He gave me his name card, telling me that he was the principal of Fook Wah Secondary School and was on a trip to meet people in the education field.

I was really touched. Our Banana Teacher ploughed the land and sowed the seeds with his blood. Now a seed has grown to a beautiful plant.

 

 

 • Gertrude Poon Wai-wah

 

Rearview mirror is not for driving forwards

There can be some past incidents that bring us shame, pain or regret. If that is the case, we do not need to deal with them alone. We can try to talk to a close friend. And we must not forget that God is a good counsellor. 

A rearview mirror is not for driving forwards. We can hardly change the past. Regret or guilt can distract us from the problems we need to handle today. But the positive things or lessons that past mistakes bring us can help us move on into the future.

 

 

 • Norma Gala

Hopes in casting my votes

Early in the morning on May 9, I was really excited about going to the polling precinct to cast my vote for the Philippine national and local elections.

I felt relieved when my ballot had been successfully accepted by the vote counting machine. It had taken me some time to scrutinise the candidates’ platforms and their political experiences.

I was happy that I could deliberately choose my desired electoral candidates, in whom I could believe and see the beauty of a true leader with values and competence. Based on my overall observation, the election was peaceful in my locality.

I am also excited to see that at the end of the election the decision of the majority is accepted and respected. The winners are God’s chosen people whom he trusted most, who can bring positive changes to the lives of Filipinos, who have the capacity to spread peace, healing and reconciliation to our wounded land.

We have high hopes and expectations of our newly-elected government officials to make their promises and plans happen, preserving human dignity, inspiring patriotism and idealism for the common good of Filipino citizens.

We are hoping that they will not only be good in words, but most importantly render an excellent and satisfying performance in public office.

We too, as citizens of our democratic nation, have a sacred role and duty to create change, as well as to promote love and compassion for one another, making The Philippines a great country.

 • Lynn Salinas

 

An awakening behind bars

I came from The Philippines to Hong Kong in 2005 to be a domestic worker. Unfortunately, my employer terminated my contract because of the many phone calls from a financial company.

Then my visa expired, but I did not return to The Philippines and I chose to overstay. 

In 2008, I was arrested by the police for overstaying. Instead of going back to The Philippines, I made an application as an asylum seeker. Since then, I have been in and out from prison for various offences.

At this moment, I am here again in Lo Wu Correctional Institution for a narcotic case.

I was really touched by a poem about ice (methamphetamine) titled Ms Crystal Meth, written by a mother, Samantha Reynolds. Right at the beginning, it says:

I destroy homes, I tear families apart,

I take your children, and that’s just the start.

I want to tell people who are innocent about the harm drugs can do. When we believe we can boldly try them and then quit later, we are giving them a chance to lead us to hell. We can quickly see how they damage our looks, our health, our self-control and our family relationship.

The poem also describes drug addiction in this way:

When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie.

You do what you have to—just to get high.

I want to tell those people who are now taking drugs: I am in prison because of the dangerous drugs.

The saddest part of the poem is that it tells us how drug addicts break the hearts of those who love them:

You’ll lie to your mom and steal from your dad.

When you bring them to tears,

you mustn’t feel sad.

Just forget all your morals

and how you were raised.

I’ll be your conscience,

I’ll teach you my ways.

I want to tell my family that I am sorry and that I have turned over a new leaf and become a good person. What made me change is that I want to be a good role model for my children.

I know I can be, since I have seen the light and come to my senses.