ucanews.com reporter, Hong KongUpdated: May 24, 2016 09:29 AM GMT
Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong blesses a long round raisin loaf which Catholic charities raising money to help the elderly hope will set a world record. (ucanews.com photo)
Catholic charity groups in Hong Kong are hoping to raise money and social awareness to help many poor elderly people living alone by trying to set a record for the world's longest raisin loaf.
Retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong, 84, blessed a 3.27-meter long raisin loaf, during a special ceremony on May 21.
Organizers hope the Guinness World Records, which accepted their submission, will recognize the long round loaf — a popular bread in Hong Kong — in a new category.
The record-setting attempt was initiated by Love in Ripples, a charity group for the elderly, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Ozanam Centre.
Caritas La Vie Bakery, a social enterprise established by Caritas-Hong Kong in 2004 to provide vocational training for recovering psychiatric patients, provided the ingredients and baking facilities.
"We chose to make a raisin loaf because they are very popular among the elderly in Hong Kong," David Shum, vice chairman of the Ozanam Centre, told ucanews.com.
The fundraising project, which started in late April, aims to enable elderly people living alone to join a local Personal Emergency Link Service (PELS) operated by the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association.
About HK$330,000 (US$40,000) has been raised so far, which would help 300 people who would otherwise have to subscribe to the service.
The service involves installing a device in someone's home or cell phone linked to a round-the-clock service center. In case of emergencies, the user presses a button to notify the center for help.
"The service is very helpful. For poor people like me, $100 per month to subscribe to the service is a bit costly," Kan Bo-Siu, 84, told ucanews.com after the loaf-blessing ceremony.
"I thought at first, breaking the world record was just gimmick. But today I can see ... it's really raised a good amount of money. It is amazing."
Joseph Tang, a doctor and volunteer for Love in Ripples, said PELS is an important service.
"I've seen many cases where elderly people living alone have died because they could not get help immediately," he said.
"Some were found many days after they had died because they lived alone and no one checked up on them," he said.
Fundraising will continue until the end of August. Caritas La Vie Bakery will produce a long raisin loaf every week and cut it into slices for the St. Vincent de Paul Society to distribute to the homeless or the elderly living alone during their regular visits.
Donors can sponsor each slice of loaf for HK$1,200, the annual cost for someone to subscribe to the emergency link service.
According to a 2011 census, about 13.3 percent of Hong Kong’s 7.2 million people is over 65 years old, many of whom live alone.