From pallet to chessboard
According to the 2016 Population By-census of Hong Kong, the South Asian population in North Lantau, where Tung Chung is located, accounts for 5.3% of the population — more than three times higher than the overall South Asian population proportion of 1.2% throughout Hong Kong.
Connie says that this demographic characteristic is closely related to the development of the airport. “When the new airport was being built in Tung Chung, many of the construction workers were South Asians, involved in building the roads and the airport, and they settled in Tung Chung. Also, there are more large flats in public housing estates here than in other districts, which are more suitable for South Asians who usually have larger families.”
“Some ethnic minority mothers have to stay at home for a long time to take care of many children, so they don’t have much opportunity to learn and speak Chinese. Children also have difficulty in speaking and writing Chinese, which affects their learning progress in local schools,” Connie explains. In response to these needs, TOUCH offers tutorial classes for ethnic minority students in primary and secondary schools, as well as intensive classes for their weaker subjects of Mathematics and Chinese Language. Different interest classes are also provided so that they can learn in a stress-free environment.
After meeting TOUCH, Hactl found out that its new centre was about to be opened and needed furniture for various activities. Hactl immediately contacted Cou Tou Studio (Cou Tou), a social enterprise dedicated to upcycling wood. They made two sets of wooden tables and chairs for TOUCH, using wooden pallets that had been discarded at Hactl’s SuperTerminal 1.
With such comfortable furniture, this opened up the possibility for fun games to be played by the centre’s visiting children. So, together with TOUCH, Hactl developed the idea of extending the use of the redundant wooden pallets to make two sets of “aeroplane chess” for the ethnic minority youths and children.
“Aeroplane chess is a common game among local Chinese kids; we play this game with ethnic minority kids and they find it fascinating,” explains Connie. The centre also launched a chessboard design competition, which was won by an eight-year-old ethnic minority child, followed by a design workshop in which ethnic minority children were invited to colour one of the chessboards.