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Caribbean

Published on April 9th, 2016 | by Loop

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Chinese Steel Orchestra receives $50,000 donation

The Trinidad and Tobago Chinese Steel Ensemble has received a donation of $50,000 as seed money towards the purchase of a vehicle to transport instruments. The donation came from Bernice Ho-Leanza, daughter of the Chinese Arts Group founder Aileen “Susie” Ho. In making the presentation, Bernice said she hoped other organisations would emulate their kind gesture by coming forward to lend financial support to the band’s needs. Susie, who was born in Trinidad on July 11, 1914 and died on January 21, 2007 in Houston, Texas, formed the Chinese Arts Group in 1948 to promote Chinese Arts and Culture and support charitable organisations. She returned to Trinidad from Malaysia after World War II with her husband, Jin Hean Ho, who was better known for his lawn tennis triumphs than his profession as a Barrister-at-Law with their two daughters, Pamela Carruthers and Gwenneth Hobson. Malaysia was under Japanese occupation at the time. However, due to the influence of Susie’s father, Joseph Roderick HingKing who was the Honorary Consul for China at the time, they were allowed to leave.

Susie arrived in Malaysia after marrying Jin in England on the day of the Blitz. During her stay in Malaysia, she wanted to take her life as she saw so much death around her and she could not help anyone as her mother-in-law was a Buddhist Priestess. She was told that a dying person’s spirit could leave a dying person and enter a human and, not knowing what type of spirit the person had, she was banned from helping anyone as she could contaminate the family with an unclean spirit. Having been born in Trinidad with a British upbringing, she was considered a foreigner, as she knew no Chinese. She was also very fair and plump so she had to cover her skin with dirt every day after bathing and lost a lot of weight during that period.

Before attempting to take her life, she decided she would say a prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At that time a little girl approached her and told her she knew she was a Catholic. It was Christmas Day and wanted to give her an “ang pow” or money envelope. Susie decided on that fateful day that if she survived the war and returned to Trinidad, she would dedicate her life to charitable purposes and help her family and friends learn about her Chinese heritage.

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