Social center in Hengqin brings mainland, Macao residents sense of community
Cao Bing, Huang Yi
The Hengqin New District is an island in south China, located next to Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR).
It's become a popular destination, as more and more people from Macao work and live on the Chinese mainland. In 2019, a social service center from Macao called the General Union of Neighborhood Associations of Macao opened a branch in Hengqin, bringing more joy to the neighborhood living there.
"Some services might be new in Hengqin, for example, organizing community activities to help elderly people, but they have been professional in Macao for several decades," said Lao Chi-fong, an assistant director and social worker from Macao.
"We are also introducing some of the newest ideas from Macao. Like today, we are holding a woodworking workshop called Dummy Daddy," he said
The workshop aims to increase the involvement of fathers in a family through making handicrafts. It's already quite popular in Macao.
But it's just the tip of the iceberg at the center. Lao said there are several other regular activities and advisory services residents can access. They can also visit facilities like a library and a canteen. Services target many age groups and are offered at no or low costs.
From workshops to lectures, even parties, community residents can participate in a variety of activities in this place with the help of social workers. The activities allow them to master not only new skills but also meet new friends and get more involved as well.
Hun Sio-sang, deputy director of the center, said it gives residents a sense of comfort and reassurance.
"On one hand, we can help people from Macao solve problems in their lives on the mainland, but our services are not only targeting them. We provide services for all in the community because we are aiming to build a harmonious and engaging community life for all," said Hun.
The feedback has been positive among people from the mainland and Macao. A resident from Sichuan said, "I am from Sichuan province and working in Hengqin. I always register for this workshop. I am here doing the woodwork, and my other daughter is in the dancing class over there."
And a resident from Macao said, "Even though we are neighbors, we are not always getting together, but now with these workshops and social activities, all the kids can come along, getting together, making a harmony community together."
Over the past 22 months, seven social workers from Macao have registered to work in Hengqin. More than 1,300 activities have been held, and over 300 medical consultations have been offered.
"We wish to set up more branches on the mainland, to create happy communities for more people," said Hun.