Where There’s Love, There’s Home Interviews with Two UM Members Affected by the Sin Fong Garden Incident

On the afternoon of 10 October 2012, cracks were found in various parts of the Sin Fong Garden, making the safety condition of this residential building the talk of the town. After the occurrence of the incident, UM’s Centre for Engineering Research and Testing (CERT) was commissioned by the SAR government to monitor the structure of the building, with technical support of UM’s Faculty of Science and Technology. In the meantime UM adopted a series of emergency measures on campus to help students and staff affected by the incident. In this issue of My UM, we interviewed one staff member and one student who had first-hand experience with the incident.

Support Each Other in Times of Need

Priscilla, a staff member of UM’s library, has been living in the Sin Fong Garden for seven years now. She recalls that she learned the news from one of her co-workers, who knew she lived in the building, told her the news and urged her to contact her family immediately. Priscilla and her six family members then moved to a relative’s house where they spent the most anxious and uncertain week of their life. She even had to borrow a school uniform from her relative’s child for her own child. Just as she was burning with anxiety, she got a call from UM’s Human Resources Office (HRO). “UM responded very quickly,” recalls Priscilla. “Not long after the incident, HRO called me to inquire how I was doing and if I needed a place to live.” According to the preliminary investigation report released by the government, affected households won’t be able to return to the building for at least another two years. After learning the news, Priscilla began to look for an apartment. But HRO already beat her to it. “On the same afternoon the government report was released, HRO called me and updated me on the news and told me they had already found me a place to live, and that I didn’t have to pay rent,” says Priscilla. She and her family eventually didn’t move into the place arranged by HRO because they had already found another place. But Priscilla says she was deeply touched by how much the university and her co-workers cared about her. “My co-workers were so supportive, they called, emailed and texted to comfort me, and many used their professional knowledge to analyse the situation for me and offered me all kinds of advice, and that really helped a lot,” says Priscilla. “If you ask me what I felt the most through this incident, I’d say the compassion and kindness of Macao people. They watch out for each other and support each other in times of need.”

Timely Help Makes Me Feel Warm

Yuki, a year-3 UM student of the Department of Finance and Business Economics, was also affected by the incident. She was having a class when the incident occurred, and she got a text message from her friend telling her the news. When she rushed back home, she was not allowed inside the building for safety concerns. On the same night, she and her family, along with the other affected households, were arranged by the government to live in hotels, and it wasn’t until the next day that they could return home to get some essential items. “Two people for each household, and we only got fifteen minutes, barely enough for us to pack a suitcase,” says Yuki. “We felt so helpless, because we had nothing with us, we couldn’t even change clothes.” Then she received an email from UM inquiring if she needed any assistance and informing her that accommodation could be arranged. So she applied for accommodation through the Student Affairs Office (SAO), and soon SAO arranged for her to move into a dormitory near the campus. Although eventually her family found a suitable apartment and Yuki released her dormitory place to someone else in greater need of help, she was deeply grateful for the help of the university. “I couldn’t go back to my previous home, and I didn’t know where else to go, [with the dormitory arranged by the university] at least I knew I had a place to go back to after school,” says Yuki.

The unfortunate Sin Fong Garden incident left Priscilla and Yuki homeless overnight, but came morning, they realised that “where there’s love, there’s home” was not just a cliché, but a truth manifested in the generous help and support of UM as well as their co-workers and friends.

Released on 2012-11-21 15:24

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