One of those interests is the promotion of breastfeeding in Hong Kong. Leung’s two sons, who are now 19 and 17, were born in Canada, where the family lived for five years. In Hong Kong, before her children were born, Leung had assumed formula provided the best nutrition for newborns and infants. But at a pre-natal talk she attended in Canada, Leung learned about the benefits of breastfeeding for a baby’s health and development, as well as its bonding with its mother.
But when she came back to Hong Kong, Leung realised not many mothers breastfed their babies. So in 1996, she set up the Hong Kong Breastfeeding Mothers’ Association (HKBMA).
“I wanted to let people know that breastfeeding is not as troublesome as people think it is.” Leung says people have the misconception that formula is more convenient but she believes, “it is formula that is inconvenient. If you go out with baby you have to look for water, mix the powder, and you don’t know if the water is the right temperature, if it is the right amount.”
However, despite the benefits of breastfeeding, Leung also knows how hard it can be. She remembers waking up every two hours or so every night to feed her baby. “I got weak and tired,” says Leung, “but, being a mother, you will be willing to make sacrifices for the good of your baby.”
Leung recalls being despondent as a new mother in Canada because the family was poor and she did not have many material things for her baby. “I suddenly felt sorry for my baby, for not giving him material comfort.”
Leung says she was in tears when she told a visiting nurse that she was not a good mother. But she says the nurse told her, “Actually baby does not need anything [material] now. It just needs your milk. That is to say babies do not need beautiful clothes, they just need their mother’s milk and their mother’s love.”
However, it was not easy to advocate for breastfeeding in Hong Kong. Leung enlisted the help of doctors, nurses and midwives. With the help of friends who shared her concerns and vision, Leung eventually set up a hotline to answer queries from mothers and to support them.
Connie Chiu Siu-wai, a close friend of Leung who is involved in both the Lung Fu Shan Environmental Concern Group and the HKBMA, says she admires Leung’s persistence in fighting for the things she believes in.
Chiu became aware that Leung could be outspoken when they were involved in HKBMA, but it was not until they started the fight for Lung Fu Shan that Chiu really felt Leung’s strong character.