Text ◆ Photo by Zhu Lingjun/Deng Jiaxuan, provided by the interviewee, “Ming Pao”
Life is stressful, how can you care about your health? Ruilian, who lives in a subdivided house, is burdened with financial burdens and has health warnings both physically and mentally.
She came into contact with a team composed of social workers and medical professionals, and established a social network with professionals and other neighbors, from which health awareness spread. Instead of asking your neighbor to sit down and attend class, it turns out that you should first establish a relationship with her and add more tips to your daily life. Health knowledge will be easier to absorb.
(Hong Kong News) Ruilian participated in the Jockey Club’s “Three Bedrooms and Two Living Rooms with Food Table” Social Medicine Symbiosis Project (hereinafter referred to as the “Three Bedrooms and Two Living Rooms”). She is not only a beneficiary of the service, but also a member of the food collection team, helping to provide food to Caring merchants at Sai Ying Pun Market collect vegetables for the subdivided housing residents to collect.
Subdivided housing environment affects living habits
The three-bedroom and two-living house is jointly organized by Medical Practitioners and Caritas Hong Kong. The social medical team works with the subdivided housing neighbors in the Central and Southwest Districts to create a comfortable “house”. The subdivided housing environment has deeply affected Ruilian’s living habits. Now she implements healthy eating in another shared home, chats and communicates with other neighbors and staff, and her mental health has also improved.
Lotus = Ruilian Note = Reporter T = Nutritionist Yang Shiyun (Tracy)
No kitchen, no cooking
Although Ruilian knew that she was eating unhealthy, the harsh environment in the subdivided housing made it difficult for her to change her eating habits.
Reporter: What were your previous cooking and eating habits?
lotus: I can’t cook in the subdivided room, there is no kitchen, and a large part of the table is built into the bed. Even if there is no oil, water will pop out, so the fitted sheet is black when cooking and is replaced with clean ones when sleeping. I have no choice but to sit on the bed and cook. Open the window and there’s rubbish outside.
Reporter: Will the environment make you not want to cook?
lotus:People say that diseases come in and disasters come out of the mouth, and toilets are dirty places. Although I cleaned myself up, I felt very bad mentally. Washing everything in the toilet is actually extremely unhygienic.
One pack of instant noodles for two meals
Households in subdivided housing are generally facing financial pressure, money is tight, and they have to save money on food expenses.
Reporter: Did you buy takeout a lot in the past?
lotus:There are very few of them, and they are too expensive to bear to buy. I just make instant noodles. In times of difficulty or unemployment, a pack of instant noodles can be eaten in two meals.
Reporter: How does the environment faced by families in subdivided housing affect their lives?
T:Economically, they have to pay rent and spend less money on food. Sometimes some people eat canned food, and those who are single don’t even cook, and buy takeout more often, but those are always not healthy. Sometimes I hear them say that they may not buy a lot of vegetables. In fact, vegetables are very expensive, and relatively speaking, they would rather eat more meat than vegetables.
lotus:Sometimes I’m lazy and have nothing to eat, so I just buy a salted egg and put it in. Miss Yang (Tracy) said: “Ruilian, I know you have a high body. You can’t eat so much salted eggs. Salted eggs are not good for you.”
Eat more fresh food with love vegetables
The nurse in the three-bedroom-two-living project noticed Ruilian’s unhealthy eating habits and invited her to receive fresh vegetables donated by market vendors and use the “neighborhood dining room” to cook her meals.
lotus:She said that after I chose the dishes, I would go back to cook them and asked me to prove how to eat healthily. After I finished cooking, she said why not have a group dinner on Monday, and you can join in and cook. I gradually got to know the other neighbor and felt that we could talk to each other, so I started to come back almost every night to cook.
T:We hope that the donated items received from the neighbors will be healthy to us, so we collect vegetables and fruits. We all want them to be more health conscious, so we put those foods (canned food, biscuits, instant noodles) at the end. For example, we only reserve them when they can’t buy them during the epidemic. We usually tell them to eat more fresh food. Apart from the ingredients, this place is air-conditioned and has space, so it’s good to encourage neighbors to come down and cook some noodles.
Make friends and feel better
Ruilian’s life was stressful and she was depressed. She made friends in the three-bedroom and two-living room plan, and with the help of the social medical team, her mood improved.
lotus:The place where I live was forced to move, which caused me to suffer from insomnia and hair loss. When people ask me where I live, I burst into tears.
Reporter: You are under so much pressure in life, but you are still willing to come as a volunteer to help.
lotus:Coming here relieves my stress and time flies by. I sleep at home every day with the window facing the patio. When I turn off the lights, I don’t know whether it’s day or night. Sometimes I sleep in bed for more than ten hours. When I feel hungry, I eat a few biscuits or noodles. Sometimes I sleep until my waist hurts.
Reporter: You also participated in many activities of Three Bedrooms and Two Living Rooms.
lotus:In fact, it is really cozy here, with professional tutors, social workers, and loving desserts. So I feel that when I came here, I learned a lot, got to know many neighbors, and my psychological pressure was relieved.
Team promotes healthy eating Develop cooking guidelinesLess salt and less oil
Nutritionist Yang Shiyun (Tracy) pointed out that economic and environmental factors pose great challenges for subdivided housing residents to eat healthily.
Social welfare agencies sometimes give away canned or easy-to-store foods, but they are never as healthy as fresh foods. The team once discussed collecting meat from nearby markets, but later switched to using vegetables instead. “I want them (subdivided housing residents) to eat more different types of vegetables and obtain different nutrients.”
Sharing food ingredients eases economic factors
Subdivided rooms lack cooking space. For example, Ruilian has to wash vegetables in the toilet and cook noodles by the bed. It is also very difficult to steam or make soup. Therefore, the three-bedroom and two-living room plan provides a “neighborhood dining room” where neighbors can get shared ingredients from the refrigerator or bring their own.
Economic factors have been alleviated, and the difficulty of practicing healthy eating has also been reduced. Ruilian said: “There is food in the refrigerator every day, so you don’t need to buy it. Although you can’t eat much, it’s more than ten or twenty yuan for this and more than ten or twenty yuan for that one month.” A sum of money.”
She is now a frequent visitor to the dining room, and sometimes makes soup using vegetables recovered from the market and fish she purchased herself. “We Cantonese people prefer soup,” she emphasized: “I don’t eat chicken essence or MSG.”
There are many warm reminders posted on the wall of the dining room. Ruilian took the initiative to introduce: “Miss Yang (Tracy) has formulated some cooking guidelines, telling us to stay healthy and use less salt and less oil.”
Yang Shiyun said with a smile that she hoped the neighbors would remember to obey when they saw it, and she would personally remind them. How to teach health knowledge? She revealed that she once held a class to teach nutrition information, but the effect was not as good as expected. “Maybe they don’t necessarily care about nutrition, because having a full stomach is the most basic (goal), and it’s just a matter of reaching it.”
Softly teach neighbors to develop on their own
For this group of subdivided housing neighbors, she now prefers soft teaching, and does not deliberately teach healthy cooking methods, allowing the neighbors to develop on their own. “Sometimes I will say: ‘Hey, I really used less oil in cooking today, that’s great!’ This way I appreciate and encourage them, and I hope to make some changes.”
Not only is Yang Shiyun’s responsibility as a nutritionist, other members of the Sanfangliangting team will also nag the neighbors if they see unhealthy diets.
In the dining room, Ruilian and Yang Shiyun discussed whether the electric kettle was useful or not, and introduced various vegetables of the day to the visiting neighbors. Health knowledge can be learned in class, but sincere advice from people around you may be more effective.
Ruilian often mentioned various sources of stress in her speeches. She admitted that she was at a low point when the rent of her subdivided apartment increased and she was forced to move out by the owner. Social work assistant Liang Haoquan (Carbo) said that rent pressure occupies a large part of the lives of subdivided housing neighbors, and when faced with forced eviction, it is more likely to induce anxiety.
Professionals help improve insomnia
The three-bedroom and two-living complex hopes to become a platform for neighbors to make friends and complain. “Even if we may not have a suitable place to live soon, at least there will be more people walking together and we can support each other.”
When Ruilian’s insomnia was at its worst, she joined the “insomnia group” with three bedrooms and two living rooms. There are many factors that impair the quality of sleep in subdivided rooms, such as light, smell and noise. Moreover, due to the small environment, most activities must be carried out on the bed.
He will bring in the neighborhood’s perspective and devise practical improvement plans. “For example, if the neighbors say it’s hard not to do everything in bed, then we’ll try our best to leave the bed for a while, or if we can’t sleep, we shouldn’t sit on the bed.” .
During those sleepless nights, Ruilian used to sleep less than two hours a day. With the help of the insomnia group and professionals, fortunately, she can now sleep for four to five hours.