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Doctor’s Story is Eye-Opening Insight

In the current issue of The Bulletin, you can read about Dr Joyce Samoutou-Wong’s inspiring and moving talk at the Chamber.

This event was a bit of a departure from the normal business for the Chamber, but when I met Joyce on a previous occasion I found her story so fascinating that I wanted to give our members the opportunity to meet her as well.

After training as a doctor in Edinburgh, Joyce had planned to return home to Hong Kong. But a short trip to Africa -- where she met her husband -- led to a dramatic change of plan. She chose to settle in the Congo jungle and dedicate her life to helping blind and visually impaired people in this impoverished and inaccessible part of Africa.

Her experiences also opened my eyes to the impact that philanthropic work can have. Firstly, it is good for medical professionals, as doing voluntary work in developing countries means they are more likely to come across advanced cases of disease. This helps them to hone their skills, making them better doctors, wherever they end up working.

And there is also a good business case for charitable giving, as donations can have a beneficial economic impact. Joyce explained that a person whose sight has been restored is usually able to return to work or to study and, often, this will also free up another family member from the burden of care. Eye care is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve public health in developing countries, she added, with every US$1 spent generating an average of US$4 of economic gain.

Joyce’s selflessness, dedication and passion shone through during her talk. But while most of us may not be able to follow in her footsteps, there is still plenty that the business community can do.

Many companies today have CSR programmes, for example, to encourage staff to work for the betterment of the whole community. Here at the Chamber we have a number of CSR events throughout the year; for example our Young Executives Club has organized projects with Food Angel to prepare meals for the elderly and to raise awareness about food waste and poverty issues.

We also have our flagship Free Ride Day, which sees the Hong Kong business community rally round to provide free tram and ferry transport for around 300,000 people. Free Ride Day is also a great opportunity for Hong Kong businesses to show their commitment to supporting the local community.

We are all so busy in Hong Kong, and this hard-working, fast-paced attitude is surely a big part of our city’s success. But, as Joyce advised during her talk, it is also good to look up from our phones and emails occasionally, and think about how we can help make the world a better place.

Posted on 2018/05/28

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