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Sassy Mama Supports: The Horizon Club, Free After-School Classes For Underprivileged Children

Horizon Club The Order of the Malta Hong Kong Where to Volunteer
Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life

There’s nothing more rewarding than directly impacting a child’s growth and knowledge. The Horizon Club by The Order of the Malta provides free after-school homework support and creative activities to the underprivileged children in the North Point area.

Sassy Mama Supports

There’s no undermining the power of knowledge, but not everyone is as privileged when it comes to education. The Horizon Club by The Order of the Malta provides free after-school classes for financially-challenged children and families living in North Point. Most of its students hail from single-parent families, and most of its tutors are retired teachers. We sat down with its Project Leader, Marina Coghill to find out more about its after-school classes and its impact on the children.

We even went over one evening to volunteer at Saint Jude’s Church (the location of Horizon Club’s dedicated classroom) and got to know the team as well as the children that come by on the regular. We were instantly greeted by smiles and waves from the students and couldn’t help but feel attached to the cause of Horizon Club.

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Horizon Club The Order of the Malta Hong Kong Where to Volunteer

Tell us a bit about the Horizon Club. What’s the main issue you tackle?

During Covid, we had the Flying Young Program Computer Club, where we handed out 40 brand new laptops and 4 pre-owned laptops to some of the most vulnerable families so students could partake in online classes. Following the success of that, we came together to see how we can continue to help the children in our community post-pandemic.

It has always been a dream of ours to have a fixed place where children can come to learn, broaden their horizons and grow. The Order of Malta Hong Kong Horizon Club is a new daily after-school club for the disadvantaged children of the North Point community. The Club is open to all faiths and backgrounds – we currently have a capacity of 20 students per class, with the goal to expand to more soon!

Horizon Club The Order of the Malta Hong Kong Where to Volunteer

We have partnered with our long-time collaborators at Caritas Hong Kong to pull our efforts to bring a safe nurturing place where parents of the local community can sign up to register their children for after-school homework tutoring followed by English learning, projects and activities. All of our classes are completely free.

The majority of the parents of our children are single mothers with no local family support. With the limited money they earn, many have had to pay a large proportion of their earnings to expensive after-school tutoring or clubs. Otherwise, their children are left with the prospect of spending their free time in their cramped apartments alone.

The Horizon Club runs Monday to Friday over 3 hours at Saint Jude’s Church in North Point. For the first 2 hours, the children get assistance with their homework from retired teachers who have volunteered their time from the Hong Kong Lasallian Family (a teacher organisation), followed by an hour of English classroom and physical activities hosted by us at the Order of Malta and our group of volunteers. 

Can you tell us a bit about the families where the children come from?

Our children come from the local North Point community, many of whom come from single-parent families (usually the mothers are from Mainland China with no local family support networks). We have a number of siblings who join our classes and a mix of ages ranging from primary school to secondary school students.

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Horizon Club The Order of the Malta Hong Kong Where to Volunteer

In what ways would you say your after-school classes are helping these children?

Over the 3 hours, the children get 2 hours of homework help in a quiet classroom with retired teachers who support the children and help them work through questions they might have. During the final hour, all the children come together to partake in English-led activities – everything from arts and crafts, drama and music, sports and team games and English reading and games. 

We understand that the children have had a long day and we want to provide a safe space for them to unwind, relax and flourish through our program.

With every day that passes we can see the children’s confidence grow, their English improve and each of their individual personalities shine through. It’s incredibly rewarding!

Horizon Club The Order of the Malta Hong Kong Where to Volunteer

How would you say your classroom is different from a typical setting in Hong Kong?

The Order of Malta is an international charity and the Hong Kong branch is no different. Our volunteers are both local and international, each one of us bringing our own backgrounds to the classroom. Plus, our Project Coordinator comes from an international Montessori background, and so the activities we host offer different approaches and enable the children to explore different passions and learn new skills. 

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Can you give some examples of children whom you’ve seen have a positive impact and growth from your work? To you, how important is education in a fast-paced city like Hong Kong?

Rather than with just one child, we have seen the group as a whole really blossom with their English improving daily, each of their own personal interests shine through and the confidence of each child improve tenfold.

Hong Kong is a competitive city – education and higher education are a must for the majority of industries. Through daily exposure to English and homework assistance, every one of our after-school sessions matters and benefits the child.

Horizon Club The Order of the Malta Hong Kong Where to Volunteer

What’s the most rewarding part of Horizon Club and how can people get involved?

It is so rewarding as a volunteer and project leader to see a child who on day one, would not participate to now being the first one to put their hands up to nominate themselves for a task.

Seeing the stark difference in the children from the inception of the project to now is priceless and we are so excited to see the children grow each day.

We are always looking for like-minded volunteers to join our daily sessions. We ask that our volunteers come with open hearts and respect for the children and their difficult backgrounds. 

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You can sign up to volunteer for the Horizon Club here and find out more about the organisation here. You can also get in touch with Marina Coghill via WhatsApp or email.

  All image courtesy of the Horizon Club.

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