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Alumnus Chan Wai Man was awarded the Hong Kong Humanitarian Year Award, co-organised by the Hong Kong Red Cross and Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), and became the recipient of the "Hong Kong Humanitarian New Force" award in 2021. (HKET)

18/01/2022

  • CUHK student Chan Wai Man has founded the "Birds of Prey" organisation, which focuses on emotional health, and is the winner of the "Hong Kong Humanitarian Power" award in 2021.

     

    Recovered brain cancer survivor Chan Wai Man has been stigmatised because of his different appearance, and was nicknamed "one-eyed dragon" by his classmates when he was young. Once addicted to playing video games in junior high school, he decided to work hard for his education and took three DSEs to enter an associate degree programme and then CUHK. His experience led him to pay attention to the issue of emotional health, and he founded an organisation called Birds of a Feather in the hope that the public would be less likely to discriminate against those suffering from the disease, and his beliefs and contributions were well received, and he was awarded the freshly emerged "Hong Kong Humanitarian Power".

     

    Brain cancer affects right nerve cord

    Michael Chan, 28, a fourth year student of the Department of Politics and Administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who will be studying for a Master's Degree in Social Work at CUHK, always seems to have a serious look on his face, as he suffered nerve damage due to brain cancer in infancy, resulting in paralysis of the right side of his face and a lack of facial expression.

     


    When he was a few months old, he had brain cancer. It is difficult to remove the tumour from his brain, so chemotherapy is the main treatment. The brain cancer has affected the nerves on my right side, my vision in my right eye is only 10% to 20%, my right eye is sometimes red and swollen due to lack of tear secretion, I can't hear in my right ear, and my right side of my face is paralysed, I can't smile or make other facial expressions.

  • Chan Wai Man is the winner of the Hong Kong Humanitarian Power Award 2021. (Photo by Tong Chi-yuen)

     

    Being made fun of for his appearance

     

    He has no deep memories of the pain and treatment brought about by the disease, but rather the discrimination brought about by the appearance of the brain cancer that he can't erase.

     

    When he was in Primary 5 and 6, especially in junior high school, he realised that he was different, and some of his classmates would alienate him and bully him verbally. I remember that some female classmates in my segregated class made fun of me for being a one-eyed dragon, and some of my classmates rejected me, for example, by refusing to play bocce ball with me.

     

    Michael, who studied at the CNEC Lau Wing Sang Secondary School in secondary school, had trouble getting along with his classmates and was also hindered in his studies. Michael, who was once addicted to playing video games, repeated his second and third year of secondary school.

     

    I remember that my brother, who was five years older than me, had been playing computer games for a long time. At that time, the more I had no time to play, the more I wanted to play, and when my brother moved out of the housing estate for a period of time, I had more time to play with the computer, and I played without any limitations, and I played after school until after 11 o'clock in the evening, thus wasting my studies, and I didn't study hard in examination time, and I failed in all the subjects except Mathematics.

No longer addicted to playing video games

 

Chan Wai Man recalled that Form 3 to Form 4, Form 4 to Form 5, and Form 5 to Form 6 have been "on the side of the car" to try to get promoted, the peak of a year can be owed to pay more than a hundred, 200 kinds of homework, there are 2 or 3 over, "muddled to try to get promoted to the stage can be," to Form 6 to take into account the future of further education, he is determined to catch up with the urgent need to read well. However, he encountered a lot of setbacks in the process, especially in English, which was his weak point, and this was partly due to the damage to his facial nerve.

 

Facial paralysis caused him to be unable to pronounce some sounds, and he had problems with the pronunciation of English. The most profound experience I had was when I was laughed at by the whole class for speaking English in Form 4, which made me more afraid to speak English.

3 DSE Associate Degree programmes to university level

 

Michael, who had taken the DSE for three times, studied on his own for the second and third times, from 9am to 10am until 11pm every day, and failed to get into the university because of his "bad English". He was enrolled in an Associate Degree programme, and he knew that he wanted to be promoted from Associate Degree to Bachelor Degree in Chinese University. Michael made every effort to practise his English in order to do well in the IELTS exam, such as working on his scripts, watching instructional videos on YouTube, and purchasing

notebooks for further study.

 

Michael, who is now a fourth year student at CUHK, recalls that although there were many twists and turns on his way to further studies, he has experienced something at every stage. Perhaps being teased and belittled made him want to prove that being physically challenged can't stop him from pursuing his dreams; perhaps it wasn't easy to get into CUHK, but he cherished his studies even more and decided on a direction for his life. Michael recalls that the impetus to set up an organisation called Birds of a Feather, which focuses on emotional health, was a sign that he had already decided to study Politics and Public Administration in Form Six.

 

I like to study policy-related things, I think policy can change the life of a generation, such as some welfare policies, policies to reduce discrimination, more equal opportunities to improve their own lives. I chose the two-year programme in Public Administration and Management at the former Community College of the City University of Hong Kong for my Associate Degree, and then moved on to the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

除了主修政政之外,陳偉文亦有讀社會政策副修課程和新聞與傳播學副修課程,並將讀社會工作碩士,志力推動社會關注精神健康,持續為精神或情緒患者提供援助。

副修新聞與傳播,是希望大眾可藉傳播媒介,明白一些由複雜概念轉化而成的訊息。社工方面,我日後可能去做社工,因為有個專業的牌照和知識,有助組織之後的發展。

推動社會關注精神健康

「同行鳥」組織是陳偉文在Year 1時跟同學發起的組織,他見到大專學界很多同學都有情緒問題,甚至輕生,希望成立一個關於情緒健康的組織,希望用影片及文字報道去分享故事,讓大眾多了解,減低誤會。

再者,「時勢造英雄」推了Michael一把,因為疫情有隔離、限聚令等,孤獨感愈來愈大,令他發現有不少人想更了解患者的故事,希望做到「以患者為本」。

自身經歷會令到我更加關注此議題,小時候曾面對歧視,就算現時亦會出現歧視或跟人相處較困難的狀況。