HO HEI WAH

COUNTRY

Hong Kong

ORGANIZATION

Society for Community Organization

CAUSE

Housing for the Urban Poor

When he was only 18, Ho Hei Wah already had a desire to do something different with his life. The capitalistic world in Hong Kong did not interest him. Behind the city’s glamour and glitz, he saw a hidden world, one where the poor lived like caged animals in wrought iron cages and coffin cubicles.

In land-scarce Hong Kong, where demand has outstripped supply, skyrocketing property prices have forced the urban poor to seek indecent housing options. Nearly 20 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, their plight further exacerbated by the widening income disparity between the rich and the poor. Regarded as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Hong Kong also has the dubious honor of having the highest Gini coefficient1 in Asia and among developed countries.

Ho was a young volunteer when he had his first eye-opening experience with caged dwellers. Now, a veteran social activist, he leads as the Director of the Society of Community Organization (SoCO), advocating for the rights of the urban poor.

BRIEF FACTS


HO HEI WAH

1970

Left the family’s jade business, worked odd jobs and volunteered with the Christian Industrial Committee fighting for laborer rights

1978

Worked as personal assistant to Dr Ding Lik Kiu

1981

Joined SoCO as a staff member

1988

Appointed Executive Director of SoCO

2005

Appointed member of the first Commission of Poverty

2013

Reappointed as member of the revived Commission of Poverty

 

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

1997

TIME Magazine’s 25 Most Influential People in Hong Kong

1998

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Honors Bronze Bauhinia Star Medal

END NOTES

Also known as the Gini Index or Gini Ratio, the coefficient was named after its inventor, the Italian statistician Corrado Gini.