Sanday Chongo Kabange, a volunteer from Zambia who works with NGOs in Hong Kong on a range of societal causes, considers his smile as his most important communication skill.
“A smile speaks volumes beyond words. It has the power to effortlessly break the ice,” the business journalist, in his 30s, said, citing his interactions with underprivileged individuals from diverse backgrounds during his volunteer work.
For more than eight years, Kabange has dedicated a significant amount of his personal time and effort to various causes spanning environmental advocacy to helping the terminally ill, disabled or homeless.
He has been selected as a finalist for the Spirit of Hong Kong Awards 2023 in the category of Spirit of Community. The annual event, co-organised by the South China Morning Post and property developer Sino Group, honours the achievements of remarkable individuals whose endeavours may otherwise go unnoticed.
“Volunteering also allows me to visit places and meet underprivileged people that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to encounter as an expat,” Kabange, who has taken on a leadership role as a volunteer for ImpactHK, said.
The charity was launched in 2017, aimed at addressing homelessness in Hong Kong, with Kabange and his team of ImpactHK volunteers over the past six years providing daily essentials to street sleepers.
ImpactHK describes him as someone who has played a crucial role in building trust, fostering connections, and promoting positive mental and physical well-being among the homeless community.
On weekends or some evenings, Kabange can also be found volunteering for NGOs such as Sunshine Action and HandsOn, distributing food packs to low-income households and the elderly.
Sunny Mak, founder of Sunshine Action, describes Kabange as a remarkable humanitarian who has made significant contributions to various charities and communities in Hong Kong.
But his volunteering crusade does not stop there. Kabange has also joined beach and hiking trail clean-ups, as well as helping the elderly with household tasks such as cleaning their homes and painting.
Having arrived in Hong Kong in 2011 for a year to pursue a master’s degree in journalism, Kabange unexpectedly found love and stayed on. He now works as a business journalist specialising in risk and regulatory compliance. Most of his day is spent in the bustling office districts of Sheung Wan and Central.
“Hong Kong is my beloved home and I’m dedicated to giving back to it. Volunteering is the best way to truly feel at home. Accepting it as our home means we are responsible for taking care of it as foreigners.
“Volunteering also grants me the opportunity to visit places and meet people that I may not have been able to as an expat if I stayed closed to myself.”
Not every person sleeping on the streets was open to receiving help, he said, even though they needed support.
“Being gentle and highly respectful is essential when interacting with them, especially when there are often volunteers around, such as those who assist with food. It is during these moments that the appreciation [of those being helped] truly shines through,” he said.
Kabange has also referred individuals with special needs, such as asylum seekers, the chronically ill or those dealing with substance abuse, to relevant NGOs or government departments.
He actively encourages other expats to join volunteering activities and even invites friends and families for the cause.
“Volunteering opens up numerous opportunities for foreigners to engage with locals, ethnic minorities, chronically ill individuals, the elderly, and people with disabilities.”