STEEPED IN HIS­TORY

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boy. He came to us at a very young age due to fam­ily cir­cum­stances. It breaks my heart, but at least he has joined our big fam­ily and can grow up with the Po Le­ung Kuk, which gives me some con­so­la­tion. We have around 300 chil­dren in the same sit­u­a­tion. They’re happy here and they tell me they don’t want to go home. It’s a tes­ta­ment to all the ef­fort and care our staff and vol­un­teers have put in. For me, watch­ing them grow up healthy and happy is the best re­ward.”

Her own chil­dren are now in­te­gral cogs in this well-oiled phil­an­thropic ma­chine. “Their fa­ther has taught them since they were young that although they have grown up in pros­per­ity, there are a lot of other peo­ple in so­ci­ety who need help. If you have the abil­ity to help, you should pull your weight,” she says. Each year their chil­dren set aside time dur­ing their sum­mer and win­ter breaks to raise money for the Po Le­ung Kuk.

In a 2008 in­ter­view with The Stan­dard, Leong re­ferred to Ho as a bril­liant teacher. “He can shape an or­di­nary per­son into some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary,” she told the news­pa­per. Per­haps the re­mark was sel­f­ref­er­en­tial. Leong’s ca­reer tra­jec­tory changed dramatically af­ter her serendip­i­tous meet­ing. “He taught me the im­por­tance of a good heart and to be hard-work­ing. You must de­vote your full ef­forts to what you do. Put your heart into your job. If you talk the talk but don’t walk the talk, it’s im­pos­si­ble,” she says. What has she taught Ho in re­turn? “I think he val­ues my pos­i­tive en­ergy. Our spir­its match up to­gether. Per­haps I re­lax him.”

In the end, suc­cess comes down to time—par­tic­u­larly the way in which one carves it up and com­part­men­talises it. “Time man­age­ment is re­ally im­por­tant,” she stresses. “I have var­i­ous du­ties as a chair­man, as a mother. But I con­cen­trate, al­ways, on the present. I won’t think of this in­ter­view af­ter I walk out—i will fo­cus on the next thing.”

Within min­utes, a car pulls up out­side the en­trance and, like a great gust of wind, Leong and her brigade whirl out of our midst and, in­deed, on to the next thing.

LEONG IN THE OLD HALL OF THE PO LE­UNG KUK, ES­TAB­LISHED IN 1880 AS THE SO­CI­ETY FOR THE PRO­TEC­TION OF WOMEN AND CHIL­DREN

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