Hong Kong, China
SANIA YAU, President & CEO, New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association
Sania and I have identical matching royal blue chinese jacquard jackets that we bought at a touristy little store on our way to visit the Tian Tan Buddha (Giant Buddha) on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. Our time together has always been bookended with superb retail adventures. Sania is a complex person, always full of surprises. We met through the IWF Fellowship program and this statuesque, serene and classy lady operates in one of the world’s most remarkable cities, Hong Kong, tackling one of the most important urban issues – mental health. Daily she is bringing those who suffer from its prejudice, a meaningful role in society. This makes my job of building a light rapid transit lines, seem like a piece of cake.
Sania & Leslie at New Life offices, July 2012
Sania is a thoughtful and kind person, whose passion and commitment to change is unrelenting. She is also a remarkable innovator, experimenting with many new and exciting social enterprises in Hong Kong that have born true results. This speaks to her understanding of a complete and fully integrated city. Her commitment to her work is only outdone by her commitment to her glorious family
What has been your most important lesson as a city builder?
“Mental Health is Everybody’s Business and Mental Health Matters” are the two mottos that inspire my career in mental health social service for the last 30 years in Hong Kong and overseas. Advocating the importance of wellness has been one of the top priorities in my work as health is not an absence of disease but a holistic concept, i.e. body, mind and spirit. Living in a fast-pace city like Hong Kong, to live healthier and happier, being mindful or “slow down” is something we need to attend to. One of the “baby” achievements is my passion and conscientiousness to bring “recovery model” from overseas to Hong Kong since 2009 and to measure its impact through evidence-based practice. Recovery is a human right movement for people in recovery from mental illness. Through system transformation, people in recovery reclaim their sense of identity, dignity and meaning in a less stigmatized and non-discriminating society. As well, they would be able to participate in the community as an equal member. Though we are still in the juvenile stage of development, we have been influencing other service providers and hospitals to join hands in this new development.”