A tour down memory lane

May 6, 2018

What better tour guide is there than a local who grew up in the area you want to visit?


Social enterprise ElderTreks was formed by a team of university students in 2016. They recruit seniors to act as tour guides to show visitors historic locations and share their expertise on the area.


Pang Wah-kee, 77, became one of their tour guides last October. He takes people on walking tours of his home district Yau Ma Tei, explaining what life was like growing up there.


He takes groups to the historic locations of Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market, the Jade Market, Public Square Street and to the Yau Ma Tei Police Station, Yau Ma Tei Theatre and the Red Brick Building during the 90-minute tour.


"I am very happy I can share my experience with others, and share the experiences of daily life in Hong Kong during the 1950s and 60s with the younger generation."


Eye-opening experience

Tour participant Lam Siu-ling said the tour was informative and colourful.


"Mr Pang told us about the neighbourhood, about what living was like there, where people lived, about the items they sold and their activities in an attentive and interesting way. This made an impression on me because even though I grew up in Hong Kong I have never seen these things with my own eyes."


Besides Yau Ma Tei, ElderTreks provides tours through Mong Kok, Tsz Wan Shan and Shek Kip Mei. Tour guides receive an hourly wage and tour participants can offer a tip.


ElderTreks' founders won the Social Innovation CEO Competition held by the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development Fund and youth.gov.hk.


The competition encourages youngsters to come up with innovative ideas and to take action to curb social and poverty issues. It also fosters a sense of social entrepreneurship among students.


The winning team wins $170,000 for its startup fund.


ElderTreks co-founder Michelle Kwok said running a local tour social enterprise enhances communication between generations and provides working opportunities for retirees.


"There were conflicts in society in recent years. There was no such platform for people from different generations to communicate on to gain a better understanding. Through this guided local tour, we hope people of different generations can have a more in-depth understanding of each other."


Training guides

ElderTreks is also co-operating with the Aberdeen Kai-fong Welfare Association in Wah Fu Estate to provide tour guide training for seniors with mild cognitive disorders. Social worker Min Sham said being a tour guide can enhance their self-confidence.


"Their short-term memory is not strong. But because they have lived in Wah Fu Estate and experienced what has happened there, they can share their experiences with familiarity.


"During the course of the tour, they do not need to learn new things but they can make use of their existing abilities.


"When the elders go outdoors in an environment they are familiar with, and when they see different people, it may help them recall experiences, and by sharing them the elders may be more active and enthusiastic about their involvement."


The social enterprise plans to expand by recruiting more seniors and adding more tour routes so locals and tourists can learn about the city's history.


People wanting to join a tour can enrol on ElderTreks' website or Facebook page.

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