One of the easiest people to meet if you ever attended an annual UNICEF conference of the fund raising National Committees somewhere on the planet, was Dr. Robert Fung. This wonderful gentle unassuming man, with his positive and tireless warmth after a lengthy day of endless presentations and discussions, was everyone’s friend. If this was your very first annual conference, Robert would be sure to approach you, introduce himself and crack a wry joke with a gentle smile, all the time making you feel as if you – like he – had been part of the UNICEF family for years. Robert loved his work with children, he loved people, he loved his work as an accomplished paediatrician (having degrees from both Harvard and McGill), he loved his work as a successful businessman, he loved Hong Kong, and he loved his work with UNICEF. He reached out to everyone, and quietly understood the functioning of the UNICEF machine. If you felt lost in the scale of UNICEF’s operations around the planet, UNICEF’s awful acronyms, UNICEF’s extensive programmes, UNICEF’s subtle machinations, and UNICEF’s global organisation, Robert, with his wonderful mop of silver hair and warm face stood out, and he’ld give you a great big hello. You now belonged to the UNICEF international family.
Robert sadly passed away peacefully in Hong Kong last friday. He founded UNICEF’s fund raising operations in Hong Kong in the mid 1980’s, and was its Chairman until his untimely death. He devoted so much of his time and energy to raising the profile of UNICEF amongst the people of Hong Kong, including the business community and of course the regional government. His was the public face of UNICEF in Hong Kong, a well known fatherly figure working endlessly for children.
Farewell, Robert: I didn’t know you well, but I knew you enough to know that you improved the lives of so many children, and their mothers, and meant so much to so many people. Your passing will be mourned not just in Hong Kong but across the world.