A videographer is recording elderly people’s dying wishes and final messages to their families so their thoughts are secure in any event that they either die or their health worsens and they are unable to function and communicate properly anymore.
The amateur videographer is a senior citizen himself, 78-year-old Ng Kwok-hung who used to run a transport business before retiring at 67. Ng works in collaboration with the Caritas Support Network for Third Age Services.
Ng and his co-collaborators have already video-recorded more than 50 Hongkongers since 2016. Interestingly, he only picked up an interest to learn videography and computer studies when he was already 60 years old.
The elderly former businessman turned his hobby into meaningful volunteer work and has encouraged others- all elderly people like him- to volunteer, too, and help their contemporaries more openly express their feelings while they are still physically, mentally and emotionally able to do so.
The volunteer videographer said he is motivated to help other elderly people by his belief that “not many elders are able to tell their family face to face what they really want, as they are near the end of life.”
Ng added: “When their condition suddenly becomes acute soon before death, some just don’t have the time to utter their last words. Or some may not know how to put feelings into a word in front of their children.”
The video volunteer team spends time in order to warm up their subjects and to make them comfortable enough to open up their thoughts and feelings with the cameras rolling. The team at times also has a social worker with them to make the elderly even more comfortable, or even “coach” them if need be.
Ng would be the first to admit that they are not professional videographers and that they all learned about the process of shooting videos and editing all by themselves. They do edit the videos and the messages just like in television, online or film work to make them snappier and sharper. Ng said the messages vary in content, but many of them could be heart-breaking, emotional and painful. One elderly mother living in a nursing home wanted to ask her son to visit her more often.
Ng’s group of 10 volunteers who are also mostly fellow retirees also conduct film events and has produced short documentaries featuring elderly residents.