Angel Cheng: Musical Angel of the Golden Triangle
03 Aug 2020
Realising that 30 years of age is a significant turning point in life, this unique alumna promised herself that she would spend some time in a place where language barriers exist before turning 30. In the end, she stayed in an unfamiliar country for a year, and helped enrich the lives of local children.
The inspiring lady in question is Angel Cheng, a 2007 Communication Studies graduate from HKBU, and the Founder of Build a Music School (B.A.M.S.) in Keng Tung, Myanmar.
When Angel first visited Myanmar for a short-term mission trip in 2009, she noticed that some of the local villagers were reduced to drug trafficking for the sake of making a living. As a result, many children lost their families to the drugs trade. Born into a grassroots family in Hong Kong, it reminded Angel of how tough childhood can be. As such, she was deeply saddened by the helplessness and loneliness that children in Myanmar were experiencing.
Six years later, Angel revisited Myanmar and stayed at an orphanage in Keng Tung for a year. Keng Tung is close to the Golden Triangle, an area notorious for drug production. There she observed serious social issues, such as teachers indulging in bribery, police smuggling drugs and the government brainwashing civilians. Thinking of the local people, who were suffering bitterly from all these acts of corruption, she felt strongly about contributing to society while she is living a blessed life. As a result, she set about leading the children out of the gloom towards a brighter future.
Initially, Angel gathered some locals and formed an orchestra to raise funds for disaster relief. She then found that the young musicians were genuinely gifted and decided to set up a music centre to provide formal music education, with the aim of nurturing children’s interest in music and helping them focus on their studies. In such a way, she hoped that the young learners will think more positively and stay away from the evils and harms of drugs.
Nevertheless, establishing the music centre was an exceptionally painstaking process. Apart from the complicated procedures involved in applying for the relevant licences and the unexpectedly high construction cost, she endured some hardships while raising funds. In addition, the mushrooming of jerry-built projects reflected the villagers’ views on the importance of building safety. In light of this, Angel’s team had to raise funds for the construction project and also educate local people about building safety. On the other hand, seeing that the income generated from farming could barely support the villagers’ lives, she actively promoted ecotourism in the hope that the villagers can earn more money.
From the development of the music centre to the launch of ecotourism initiatives, Angel is so grateful to have built a small community for the poverty-stricken villagers in Keng Tung and to have enhanced their quality of life.
The founding of B.A.M.S. has also awakened Angel to the important things in life. Instead of money, living a meaningful and valuable life is of the utmost importance. As even if you become a billionaire, you won’t necessarily change society for the better. But if you help a thousand children, you can change their lives, and the impact is far more profound and long-lasting.
Driven by a set of unswerving beliefs, Angel believes that bringing hope to others is what makes life meaningful and valuable.