“I’ve been collecting cardboard around the Pei Ho Street market for almost a year now - I pick up used cardboard boxes, flatten them, and pile it all on to my trolley. Then I make trips to and from the refuse centre to deposit them - that’s back and forth about 40 to 50 times a day! Every morning, I get up at the crack of dawn to start work at 6am, and I work all day until past midnight. I would be lucky to get 3 hours of sleep every night. I work under the blazing sun and in the pouring rain, even when there is a Typhoon 3. This work is so physically demanding, I am really exhausted. Before doing this job, I was washing dishes at Chinese restaurants, doing 12 to 14 hour shifts for 25 years. But this pandemic has put a lot of restaurants out of business; the place that I was working at shut down, so I had to find another way to make a living.”
「我差唔多一年前開始喺北河街街市附近執紙皮，啲紙皮箱人哋唔要，我就執返嚟整平佢，疊哂喺我㗎推車仔度先。跟住我就推佢哋去 垃圾站 擺低，一日來回四五十次﹗每朝天光我就開工，一早六點做到半夜，要好好彩先訓到三個鐘。好天曬落雨淋，就算打三號風球，我都係咁做。執紙皮好辛苦，真係好攰㗎。之前我喺酒樓做洗碗工，一更做12到14個鐘，做咗25年。不過呢個疫情搞到好多酒樓冇得做，我做開嗰間都執咗，所以咪要做第二樣嘢嚟搵食囉。
“ I’m originally from Foshan (佛山), Guangdong (廣東) and moved to Hong Kong almost three decades ago. For 26 years I have been on the waiting list for a public housing flat. I am now in my late seventies and I just want to have my own home! My husband passed away a few years ago in his eighties, and he never saw the end of the waiting list. I have children and grandchildren, but they live far away from me and we don’t often see each other. So I live alone in a small rented room in Sham Shui Po. After work, I just make myself some simple food to fill my stomach, usually some noodles. For the time being I will keep collecting as much cardboard as I can every day - I need to pay my rent. I have a secret: I hose down all the cardboard with water before I resell it. If it’s heavier, it sells for a few cents more!”
“Sham Shui Po is a lively and bustling neighbourhood. Since I’m around almost all day, I’ve gotten to know the market vendors and we chit chat here and there. Although I find that a lot of Hongkongers tend to just ignore each other on the streets. Even when they are passing by each other whilst walking up and down the stairs in the same apartment building every day - nobody says “hello!”. I don’t really understand why. Wouldn’t it be so much more pleasant if people were open to just saying “hello” or “good morning” to each other?”
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