FU HONG CLOSES REHABILITATION CENTERS IN EARLY FEBRUARY – Video calls and over the phone support. The new life of those who help

– Marco Carvalho

An earthquake that rocked the manner schools and universities teach and changed the way private institutions of social solidarity look after their users. The coronavirus outbreak forced institutions from all quarters of society to reinvent themselves and the Fu Hong Society of Macau is no exception. The internet has become an essential tool for the organization led by Fátima Santos Ferreira.

Most of the users of the rehabilitation centers belonging to the Fu Hong Society of Macau have been confined to their home for almost two months due to the new coronavirus outbreak, but the centers’ shutdown has relieved neither the workload nor the organization’s responsibilities.

Fu Hong Society has, since the very beginning of the current public health crisis, resorted to resources such as monitoring over the phone or video calls to pass-along a sense of security to its users, in a period when uncertainty still prevails: “Our centers are all closed because of the Coronavirus. Our main purpose ever since the beginning of the outbreak was to prevent any form of contagion, any danger whatsoever for our users,” Fátima dos Santos Ferreira told O Clarim. “This situation is particularly unpleasant to our users because they are closed in their own houses. This is hard to bear for many of us and for them it is much harder. They are always calling and asking us: ‘So, when will the center open again? When can we go back?’” the president of Fu Hong Society adds.

Confined within four walls without the kind of social interaction that Fu Hong’s rehabilitation centers used to provide them, the institution’s users resent the exceptional circumstances brought by the new coronavirus, but they are not the only ones. Over the last two months, Fu Hong Society has been providing psychological support to families and all those in charge of people with intellectual disabilities:  ”We contact all of our users and their families over the phone, not only to know how they are doing but also with the aim of getting them psychological support. Parents need it. The Fu Hong centers have always provided great support to local families. With their children at home, they are exposed to a great deal of stress,” Mrs. Santos Ferreira warns.

The closure of Fu Hong’s rehabilitation centers affects about four hundred users. Of the equipment that make up the Society’s range of action, only the social laundry and the home for the elderly are still in operation: “The Home is operating with a small number of users. Those who could go to their families, we sent them to their families. But even those who are at our home, we have been doing everything within our reach so that they can contact their family their family members. We are making use of new technologies, namely video calls,” the president of Fu Hong society illustrates. “They don’t understand why they stopped seeing their parents. Being able to see them, even though from a distance, it is something good. On the other hand, the gaming operators also have a volunteer group that usually works with us through FaceTime,” she adds

With a significant number of employees living in Mainland China, the Society was forced to arrange accommodation in Macau, so that some of its employees could remain in the Special Administrative Region: “Since now it is mandatory to stay in quarantine for fourteen days, some of our employees can no longer come to Macau. We arranged accommodation for those who said they were willing to stay,” Fátima dos Santos Ferreira says.

Coronavirus derails exhibition by Macau artist

The new coronavirus pandemic forced the Macau Tourist Information and Promotion Center in Portugal and the Fuhong Rehabilitation Association to change their plans. The exhibition “Images of Macau – the personal vision of 0.38,” by Leong Ieng Wai, was to tour several Portuguese cities. Because of the epidemic outbreak, the exhibition is being kept on hold in Odivelas, a municipality near Lisbon.

The refined and detailed outline of Leong Ieng Wai’s work leaves no one indifferent. The detail and the attention with which the artist portrays the monuments of the Historic Center of Macau, with which he puts on paper the frenetic pace of the city and with which he manages to capture the eclectic character of the Special Administrative Region, made the young artist one of Macau’s most popular artistic ambassadors.

A user of the Fuhong Rehabilitation Association, Leong – who creates his works with the pseudonym of 0.38 – was invited to exhibit his talent in Portugal’s second largest city as part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the return of Macau to Chinese sovereignty.

After being held in Oporto, where it was on display between the 12th March and the 24th April 2019, the exhibition “Images of Macau – the personal vision of 0.38” should have gained a second breath this year, but the new coronavirus outbreak pulled the rug from under the promoters’ feet: “We held an exhibition in Portugal, at Oporto City Council, last year. Our aim was to transform this exhibition into an itinerant exhibition and to promote this works in several Portuguese cultural spaces,” Fátima dos Santos Ferreira told O Clarim. “This public health crisis ended up ruining our plans. Right now, his works are on display in Odivelas. But because of the coronavirus, there was not even the possibility to organize an opening ceremony,” the president of the Fu Hong Rehabilitation Association claims.

Over the past few years, 0.38 – the pseudonym is explained by the thickness of the pen tip that the artist uses to create his work – has achieved wide recognition, despite being mentally handicapped. Leong Ieong Wai was awarded by the Government an Honorary Title in 2018 for “his extraordinary personal development” and “social contribution to Macau”: “He was decorated by the Government two years ago. I think it was the first time in the history of these decorations that a mentally handicapped person was distinguished,” Fátima dos Santos Ferreira recalls.