Hawker gives free food coupons to elderly poor
FOR more than 20 years, Wong Lai Ngoh has been giving away coupons to poor, uncared-for elderly living around Owen Road for them to come and eat free of charge at her stall.
The 65-year-old owner of the Cambridge Road Hong Kong Roast Pork stall in Pek Kio Food Centre has won the hearts of those who have benefited from her generosity, reported Lianhe Wanbao.
"The decision to help began one day about 20 years ago when a ragged old man came to our stall to beg for a plastic bag," Madam Wong recounted to the Chinese evening daily on Wednesday.
That time, she was a helper to her father, whom she assisted for more than five decades until he died some six years ago and left her the stall.
Curious over what use the man would have for the bag, she tailed him to observe.
"I saw him walk around the food centre to put into the bag the leftover food of others," she said.
She stepped forward to ask him why and was told he had no money for meals and had to pick up the remainders of others' food.
"Noting that he was all alone by himself, I could not but feel the compassion to help. There began my undertaking to give away food to the old and needy," said the mother of three.
At the beginning, she offered her roast pork rice only to about eight elderly, but soon word spread and more came.
Madam Wong revealed that her family was not well-to-do but her burden had lightened ever since her children started working.
"Now I give away up to 130 coupons per month, which go to about 60 old folks."
The coupons are distributed through the help of volunteers, and each entitles the holder to a dish of free roast pork rice, which is sold at $3 to paying customers.
Although the elderly she helps are poor, they would sometimes offer her something such as a banana or a piece of bread as a token of appreciation.
She sees these little acts as proof that the elderly people have strong self-respect and do not want to take from others without making some kind of repayment.
Retiree Soi Soi, 61, who receives two coupons every month from Madam Wong, described the stallholder as an affable person with a good heart.
Chen Zhongsun, a 71-year-old who has never eaten a free meal at her stall, said all in the neighbourhood know of her altruistic commitment and commend her for that.