Ming-Ai Association was founded in the U.K. as a Company Limited by Guarantee (no. 2763177) on 9 November 1992 and was established as a Charity (no. 1015621) on 7 December 1992. It was a Catholic laity's response to the signs of the times, to act as a bridge between the UK, China and Hong Kong, and thereby to bring about educational, cultural, social and economic exchanges.
Ming-Ai Association enjoys support from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster UK and Caritas Hong Kong.
In May 1992, Cardinal Hume invited Cardinal Wu of Hong Kong to provide manpower to assist the new Association. A member of staff from Caritas Hong Kong was seconded until 1998.
Caritas, Hong Kong
The name "Ming-Ai" is a Mandarin derivation of the Latin word "Caritas" meaning "Love". The motto of the Association is: "To Love is to Serve".
The Association has close links with Caritas Hong Kong, which was founded in July 1953. The main objects of Ming-Ai Association are to serve all peoples irrespective of colour or creed for the advancement of Christian religion, the advancement of education, the relief of poverty and the general benefit of the public in such manner as may be charitable.
Meaning of the Logo
The cross and flame, symbolising Christian love, is the logo of Caritas International, the Catholic Federation to which Caritas Hong Kong belongs. The lion symbolises Britain; the dragon, China; the sampan, Hong Kong; the seas, learning without boundary.
Every year we host very enjoyable and successful celebrations for the Chinese New Year. Among the many guests are representatives of the Diocese of Westminster, the Chinese Embassy, local dignitaries, host families and a variety of other organisations. The programme usually consists of musical items, Tai Chi and Kung Fu demonstrations, Chinese name-giving and calligraphy, and the distribution of the lucky packets. These are followed by a buffet cooked in our training kitchen, which is always popular.
A registered charity, Fung Shan Foundation (Charity No. 1015620) was a Shak Family Foundation set up by the late Dr Therese Shak and the late Miss Catherine Shak in memory of their parents, Mr Shak Chung Shan and Mrs Shak Wong Fung Lin. Since the death of Dr Shak in 2010 the Foundation is managed by a Board of Trustees which oversees the award of financial support to relevant charities such as Ming-Ai. Dr Shak's successor is Mr Alan Worsfold.
On 21 June 1994, Miss Catherine Shak became Ming-Ai's first patron, not only for her financial support but also for the many hours of voluntary work she gave until her death on 9 January 1995.
Through working 22 years in Caritas Hong Kong, Dr Shak made many Chinese contacts. She approached Hong Kong Cardinal, John Baptist Wu, and told him she wanted to continue fostering goodwill between China, Hong Kong and the U.K. He advised that the best way to do this would be to contact the Church in the U.K. Thus with Cardinal Hume's support Ming-Ai got underway in the early 1990s.It seemed to Dr Therese Shak, Catherine's sister and the founder of Ming-Ai Association, that when China opened her doors to the outside in 1978, Caritas Hong Kong had an opportunity to assist with training. For example, Shenzhen was only a village then. Caritas Hong Kong went in to help them develop hospitality services and was then asked by Zhnagjing city to help train teachers of English. The then President of the Chinese Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), and members of the National Political Consultative Conference came down from Beijing to introduce Caritas Hong Kong to different provinces and cities.
Sadly Dr Shak died on 21 March 2010 but her vision for Ming-Ai lives on.
An Interview in 2002 with the late Dr Therese W.H. Shak, Founder of the Association
How did you think of starting Ming-Ai Association in the U.K.?
I have been asked this question many times. I always started with saying that my sister, Catherine, was a mildly slow learner. She wanted to leave Hong Kong. So I decided to bring her to London, because I felt I could still continue to do educational works there.
Were you not sad to leave your job with Caritas Hong Kong?
I was, but then I had already worked for 22 years with them. I was put in charge of the Adult and Higher Education Service, to build and to develop it. With the help of able colleagues we established 27 day and evening schools for adults, forming an alternative ladder to the formal system of education, so that adults could proceed from illiteracy to higher education in our organisation.
How did you get involved with China?
Ever since China opened their doors to the outside world in 1978 we went in to help them with training. For example, Shenzhen was only a village then. We went in to help them develop hospitality services. We were also asked by Zhangjiang to help train teachers of English and VIPs like Mr. Li Tao, the then President of the Chinese Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE) and Mr. Guan Shixiong, Member of the National Political Consultative Conference, came down from Beijing to introduce us to different provinces and cities.
How did you get Westminster Diocese involved?
Through working 22 years in Caritas Hong Kong, I had met a lot of Chinese friends whom I felt sorry to lose contact with. So I approached our Hong Kong Cardinal, John Baptist Wu, and told him I wanted to continue fostering goodwill between China, Hong Kong and the U.K. He said that the best way to do this would be to contact the Church here, so we approached Cardinal Basil Hume to ask him to be our Honorary President. ...... and in due course he consented. While we were waiting for Cardinal Hume's consent, my sister and I had already bought the premises in Bounds Green for the Association to operate. So Cardinal Wu teased me by referring to an ancient battle in China, "All is ready, only the east wind is lacking!" So, as soon as I got the Cardinal's consent I quickly faxed over four big Chinese characters to Cardinal Wu, meaning "East Wind has blown!"
How was Ming-Ai (London) Institute established?
As an executive arm of the Association, Ming-Ai (London) Institute was set up in 1993 with administrative help from Caritas Hong Kong and financial assistance from Fung Shan Foundation. With their support we initiated programmes to promote Chinese culture locally and to link up with China through educational and cultural exchanges. During the last decade, through the efforts of our past and present colleagues and volunteers, we were successful in establishing an academic network both locally and abroad.
What expectations do you have for the Institute and the Association?
For the first time we were successful in applying for the UK On-Line Project funding from the then DfES to set up a multi-lingual ICT centre. We will continue to make applications from other sources and hopefully these will also be successful, so that our aim and objectives can be achieved. I would like to see more and more Ming-Ai Institutes set up in different cities, for example, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, etc.
~ April 2002
The late Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster served as Honorary President until his death on 17 June 1999. He was succeeded by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster until his retirement in 2008 when Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster took his place as Honorary President in 2008.
|The late Cardinal Basil Hume
||Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor
||Cardinal Vincent Nichols