Tang Kwong-po, 60, lost his sight after surgery for a brain tumour but he has remained active and now helps other blind people in the city
The chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of the Blind has been nominated in the Spirit of Hong Kong Awards for his perseverance in overcoming personal challenges
Tang Kwong-po might be blind but he is always on the move.
The 60-year-old regularly travels unaccompanied from his home in Siu Sai Wan Estate to the Hong Kong Federation of the Blind in Kwun Tong to take part in activities of various kinds.
He teaches cooking and shows off his culinary skills on the internet. He has entered international music competitions and represented Hong Kong.
Most recently, the father of two has been planning to organise tutorial classes for the children of young blind parents.
“Not many young blind people know how to teach their children,” he explained. “I want to help these underprivileged children catch up on their studies.”
He understands too well how important such help is to people when bad luck befalls them and leaves them helpless.
For Tang, life has not always been easy. He grew up near a food market and started working as an apprentice after leaving school while in his early teens in the 1970s.
After years of hard work, the Hongkonger was well off, setting up his meat stall business in the 1990s and buying a flat.
Yet things changed when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2002 and became blind following an operation.
“I burst into tears when I found out,” Tang said.
“Before losing my sight I used to eat well, but then I had to be a lot more frugal as my career fell apart after the misfortune,” he recalled.
No longer able to run his business, Tang, married with two children, had difficulty making ends meet. He sold his home at a loss in 2004 and subsequently settled in a public housing flat with his family.
Tang said he became so frustrated that he once thought of suicide.
“But then I thought about my two young sons, who were eight and four years old at the time,” he said.
He pulled himself together and decided to face reality. In 2005, he sought help from the federation, which he now chairs, and learned to do an array of everyday tasks.
Apart from acquiring the skills to lead an independent life, such as reading Braille, Tang took classes in guitar, home economics and kung fu at the federation.
He ran for chair of the federation in 2013 and has held the office ever since, being re-elected twice in 2015 and 2017.
“I want to help my visually impaired peers,” the chairman said.
Tang is one of the nominees for the Spirit of Hong Kong Awards, co-organised by the South China Morning Post and property developer Sino Group to celebrate the achievements of remarkable people whose unsung work may not come to public notice.
The federation has recommended its chairman for the Spirit of Perseverance award, which honours individuals who have, against the odds, overcome personal challenges to succeed.
Tang said he had met many people affected by visual impairment.
“People adapt to change at different paces,” he said. “I want to use my experience to help them.”
The chairman endeavours to empower blind people and connect them with the community.
“I want to tell people that we can also do things, such as cooking,” he said.
He said smartphones can make the lives of blind people much easier so he always encouraged his peers to learn to use them.
The chairman has made representations to various civic authorities in the hope they can improve barrier-free access for people with disabilities in the city.