A group of 20 young people from Hong Kong, all aged 20, are in Belgium to participate in a week-long exchange programme on 24-31 August that will see them taking on the daunting Oxfam Trailwalker challenge on 26-27 August. The Oxfam Trailwalker in Belgium is one of the highlights of group's programme organised by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels (HKETO, Brussels) to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Dubbed "Walking the Hong Kong Spirit", the exchange programme was launched in Hong Kong on 21 January by former Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Godfrey Leung, the President of the Hong Kong Professionals and Senior Executives Association, Chan Sui-hung, Belgium's Consul-General in Hong Kong, Michèle Deneffe, and a group of enthusiastic hikers.
Although it is now a worldwide event that takes place in nine countries over four continents, the first Trailwalker was held in Hong Kong in 1981 as a Gurkha training exercise, before it was taken over by Oxfam in 1997. The strenuous effort and perseverance required to complete the arduous trail exemplify Hong Kong's can-do spirit.
For the 100-kilometre trek through the High Fens around Eupen, one of the most beautiful regions of Belgium, the 20 young people from Hong Kong will be divided into five teams to walk up to 30 hours, some continuing their trek through the night to the finish, grabbing a hot drink and a snack as they pass through checkpoints along the route. They will be among over 260 teams, each made up of four walkers, taking part in the event to raise money for charity.
The Belgian team that raises the most funds will be invited to Hong Kong to take part in the Oxfam Trailwalker 2017 scheduled for17-19 November 2017.
During their visit in Belgium, the group of twenty-year-olds will learn more about Belgium and the European Union through a series of briefings by the European Commission, chambers of commerce, business associations and non-government organisations on topics ranging from youth policies to climate change. They will also be given guided tours to major sites around the country, including World War I locations in the area of Ieper and the battlefield of Waterloo.