UPDATE: The PLK just created a site for Online donations. Give early, give often (and get a tax break).

This project, which I helped launch, assists Hong Kong’s neediest children in learning to speak English and Mandarin. These languages, key for any Hong Kong resident entering the workforce, are often taught in a dull and rote manner.

Generously financed by JP Morgan through the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Charity Fund, the program injects fun into language learning for children who are resident at the Po Leung Kuk.

The 300 children resident at the Po Leung Kuk orphanage are Hong Kong’s neediest. Few are actual orphans these days. A large portion have been taken from their families due to abuse and others are there due to dire financial situations.

Even a quick visit to the Po Leung Kuk, such as one I did tonight, is a very striking and memorable event. Although coming from horrific circumstances, the children are filled with smiles and always eager to interact with outsiders. Today several insisted that I read storybooks to them – The Three Pigs – even though they do not speak much English. (My Mandarin is not yet up to the task of reading children’s stories!)

Below are some videos in which Michelle McEwan, the program’s director of studies, describes what happens. Very sorry not to include photos of the children, but they cannot appear in video.

Here’s the official description:

The Language Training Program started in February 2005 with donations from the FCC and JP Morgan which were met by matched funding from Po Leung Kuk. The program provides after-school English and Putonghua lessons as well as storytelling sessions in English to the children in Po Leung Kuk residential care in Causeway Bay and also in the twelve Po Leung Kuk Small Group Homes all over Hong Kong.

Currently English classes are provided for three hours per week through two lessons of one and a half hours each. Putonghua lessons and storytelling last one hour and are given once a week. Storytelling is provided for all children in the range of two and a half years to eighteen years and aims to interest children in English through reading stories, making crafts and food making, to name but a few activities. English and Putonghua classes are taught more formally with native teachers and aiming to use fun, interesting learning activities and games to allow the students to learn and practice in an open, friendly atmosphere. Classes are provided for children from three years to secondary level and almost three hundred children participate in the LTP.

1- A Tour of the Language Training Program

2- External validation of the program

3- An overview of how the program works

4- Michelle introduces herself

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  1. Ray

    Nice sharing!

    The program definitely helps lots of children. Its influence may be even greater than the scholarship – though the children may be too young to understand and remember. :)

  2. Ray,

    You and the other scholarship winners in the first years provided us with the inspiration for to grow this program.

    Thank you!


  3. Angela


    I’m moving to Hong Kong next month and looking to volunteer at an orphanage. Are there any volunteer opportunities at Po Leung Kuk? When I lived in Korea I volunteered at an orphanage in Seoul for over two years. I really enjoyed doing it. Please let me know if and how I can get involved.


  4. Grazielle

    Are there any volunteer orpportunities at Po leung kuk? Please let me know if and how I can get involved.
    Thanks Grazielle

  5. Patti

    Would also be interested in volunteer opportunities/needs. I can commit several hours a week. Hope to hear from you.

  6. Jenny

    I am interested in volunteer opportunities at Po Leung kuk

  7. Fareesa Abbasi

    I live in Hong Kong, and just moved here from the states. I would love to also learn about the volunteer opportunities at Po Leung Kuk. I can commit a few hours a week as well. Hope to hear from you.

  8. Great to get so many volunteers! Welcome on board! I will be emailing you each individually.


  9. Edwin

    I have done some volunteer work with Po Leung Kuk through activities organised by my previous company. In fact, I even sponsored a nine-year child for a year…. Since I left the company, I’ve been thinking if I can offer my service as a volunteer teacher and your programme is really a good channel for me to help the needy children (again). I can do English and Putonghua as I have both the TESOL and Putonghua Proficiency Certs.

  10. joanna

    I also live in Hk, and i would love to volunteer with Po leung kuk, i speak fluent cantonese and english, and also mandarin and german.
    look forward to hearing from you

  11. Josephine

    Hi! So nice to hear about this programme! Sounds really interesting and would be able to help lots of children. I am also looking at volunteer opportunities! Please let me know how I can be of help (either on a part time or a project by project basis)!


  12. Donna


    Would also love to volunteer will be great to here form you

    Best Wishes

  13. Vanessa

    Please contact me!
    English teacher living in Causeway Bay, would love to learn how/when I can volunteer at the orphanage.

  14. shilpa anand

    hi,i am really interested in this programme ,would love to volunteer along with my 12 yr daughter who speaks fluent cantonese and some mandarin.
    thks shilpa

  15. Bernice

    I would also like to know how i can volunteer my time, through projects or on part time bases. I been a NET in Hong Kong for over 6 yrs. thanks

  16. Aaron Galliano

    I would like to volunteer at the orphanage in any way I can full or part time..PLEASE CONTACT ME

  17. Christina Huang

    I am a Singaporean who just moved from NYC to Hong Kong. Having too much time on my hands, I would love to volunteer. I do not have any experience with kids but I am willing to learn. (Got to start from somewhere) I can speak english and mandarin but I can’t read mandarin :( I love to help out in anyway I can even if its just to play games.

  18. natalie

    i would like to volunteer for helping in the orphenage, for about a week in march… PLEASE contact me asap!!!

  19. May Chan

    I was googling for volunteering work with orphans in Hong Kong and here I am! I would also like to spend time with orphans- helping with homework, or just playing with them. I can do Chinese and English. Please let me know if there is any way i can get involved- thanks!!

  20. Great to get all these recent responses!

    We are building a great team of volunteers.

    Email me or leave a comment if you want to join.


  21. Lie Yin Chan

    Hi I’m very interested in this program. Unfortenately I don’t live in Hong Kong but I’m intent to take a sabbatical to do some volunteering work in Hong Kong. Is it possible to send me some more information of this program?
    Thanking you in advance, Lie Yin

  22. Helen Lo

    The Po Leung Kuk program is indeed a great project and am so glad to see many volunteers.
    Recently I realised there are story telling sessions at public libraries but they are only in Chinese and limited to one or two sessions on Saturdays, parents have to pay hundreds for children to attend English play groups to gain exposure to English (naturally limited to the privileged group who can afford them).
    It would be great if there would be interest in a volunteer program that organises English story telling at public libraries or even community centres. It will not only help raise the level of language capability but general education level, keeps some kids off the streets or away from computer games.
    We might eventually avoid kids from producing kids for Po Leung Kuk.
    Would be happy to take initiate the project if anybody think it is a good idea and would like to chip in some effort.

  23. Joanna

    Please Email me more information! I am very interested in helping out with this rewarding program. Thank you!

  24. emily mok

    I would love to join this program and being part of these children's lives.
    my mother tongue is cantonese, but i studied in canada for more than 10 years and back in hk now for good. so my english should be no problem. :)
    i'm also fluent in mandarin.

    please contact me at [email protected]

    happy chinese new year!

  25. Mark Wu Ka Lam

    Hi Michelle
    I'm Mark WU. I appreciate your efforts to start this wonderful language programme for the local children.
    Cheers for your early success in your endeavour in Hong Kong.

    Mrk WU

  26. Debbie


    I am a qualified Primary School teacher who was working for the English Schools Foundation here in Hong Kong. I am currently bringing up my baby boy and have some free time. I would very much like to help out with any teaching or care of children. I have experience and I am qualified to teach English as an
    Additional Language (EAL), the UK National Curriculum (all subjects for 3-12 yrs.) I love teaching drama and reading stories. I also have several years of experience working with
    children with Special Education Needs.

    If there is a need for my services I would be very happy to work for free and I am able to make a commitment for at least half a day each week.

    Please let me know if I can be of help.

    Kind regards,
    Deborah White [email protected] or 95305125

  27. naima

    Hi ! I am Naima from india, have come to Hong kong 6months back.Iam interested in being a part of this orphange.For that i once to make a visit to this orphange.So, could you tell me the address of this place.

  28. Angeline Teo

    Hi, I am keen to help, please advise who I can contact for more information. My email address is [email protected].

    Thank you

  29. JKT

    It's been more than a year since you posted, so I hope this is still going! I'd love to get involved – please do send me an email.

  30. Katie

    Hi Angela,
    I am currently living in seoul and looking for volunteer work in an orphanage. What orphanage were you at and how did you organise it? I am struggling to find the information as a lot of the websites are in korean and there are a lot of broken links,

  31. beattie cho

    how can i join?:)

  32. elizabethma

    Hi, I have just arrived in Hong Kong a few weeks ago and would be looking to do some voluntary work. I have done voluntary work with children's charities in Scotland and I am also a CELTA qualified native English teacher. However, I also speak fluent Cantonese as I am a British Born Chinese. Please could you inform me as to how I could get involved as I would really like to help!


  33. ivy

    I would love to join in this program, can you please tell me how I can get involved?
    Please reply to [email protected]

  34. ivy

    I would love to join this program, can you please tell me how I can get involved?
    Please reply to [email protected]

  35. ivy

    I would love to join in this program, can you please tell me how I can get involved?
    Please reply to [email protected]

  36. Elaine

    My kids and I will be visiting Hong Kong for 2 weeks and they are very experienced volunteers in the United States.  They speak fluent English and Cantonese.  How do we contact Michelle McEwen to see if she needs a classsroom helper for a couple of weeks in August?  Please reply at [email protected].  Thanks.

  37. Mblake

    My 13 year old son is looking for some volunteering work on Saturdays and in the summer. He is a native English speaker and could read stories to children in English. We live in Shatin area. Would you know if Po Leung Kuk would welcome him? Would you be able to email me ([email protected])? Thank you.

  38. Tammy Osborne

    Hi. I am a Montersorri teacher from the uk. I am a resident here in hk and would like to do some volunteer work during the summer and hopefully for the long term. I am also a part time Nanny. I specialize in kindergarden ages. Please advise…

    Many thanks.


  39. Dawn

    Hi. I emailed Michelle at the email address given to get more information about possibly volunteering at the orphanage 2 days ago but haven't heard back from her yet.  Please provide me a name, email address & phone number of someone to reach ASAP. I will be leaving Fujian, China next week and going to Hong Kong and am considering staying there for some time. If I do I'd like to volunteer helping at an orphanage. I'm TESOL Certified & have taught English in China for 3 years. I also have a deep heart to love on children who have experienced abandonment and difficult experiences.

  40. Michelle McEwan, the program’s director of studies, describes what
    happens. Very sorry not to include photos of the children, but they
    cannot appear in video.

  41. Jim Kwok

    My name is Jim. I would like to help children in need in Hong Kong – say teach them English once a week. My email is [email protected]

  42. danni Cullen

    Hi, Im Danni, 26 from Ireland, I am a drama teacher. I am hoping to do a masters in Drama therapy and would love to do some work at your Orphanage, [email protected] is my email.

  43. Alex Lopes F

    Hi, came across you just now. i am teaching in HK and would like to volunteer my time for you before easter? How can I reach you? Alex