Casa de Macau Australia

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Macau History Articles

 

Our sincere thanks to Theresa M. da Luz, San Francisco, California, who wrote the following article for the Lusitano Club of San Francisco some 10 years ago.
The article also appeared in the 'Casa de Macau Australia Newsletter', April 2006 issue.

'The Ladies of Little Flower Club'
Theresa M. da Luz

Rummaging around old photos, Virgie McDougall discovered the photograph below. It was taken on the grounds of Little Flower Club in Kowloon. We had a great time identifying all the ladies present. I was quite suprised that I was able to remember the names of 95% of the ladies - quite a few of them were my aunts and cousins or related by marriage to the vast Yvanovich clan, lovingly called "Outsiders" by my Uncle Vicente. I am guessing that the occasion was farewell luncheon for the Menezes sisters, Celeste Menezes Ribeiro and Marie Menezes.They immigrated to Australia sometime in the 1950s.

The Little Flower Club's founding members were Hedewiges da Silva, Bertha Vaz Barretto, Aurea Baptista and Dona Reca (the lady who taught Portuguese to many of the Canossian Institute students). The Club was primarily a Catholic Action Ladies Club. At first, they woud meet in a little room in the rectory of the Hong Kong Catholic Cathedral and as they recruited more members, they moved to rented quarters in Jordan Road, Kowloon, and eventually to their permanent location at Kings' Park, right next door to Club Recreio. The Macao Catholic Action Ladies were invited to join the Club. Aurea Baptista formed a band called "Lira Das Florinhas" and they performed in many of the Macanese functions.

World War II put a stop to all this; the ladies had to take care of their families on their own, as many of their husbands were interned as Prisoners of War. Everything in Hong Kong cam to a standstill during the occupation. There was no way of earning a living in Hong Kong, all assets were frozen or could only be converted to worthless Japanese script. Many left for Macau with their children to wait out the war.

The Macau Government generously provided for all those who wished to accept food and lodging. While in Macau, those who had husbands and sons in POW camps received a subsidy from the British Governent through the British Consul. Many of the younger men who were not in camp were hired by the British Consul as guards.

However, a few of the ladies opted to stay behind in Hong Kong, some because they had homes which could not be abandoned for fear of complete destruction by looters. By selling some of their precious possessions, some were able to hang on and provide their husbands in camp with food parcels.
In 1943, the Red Cross opened a shelter for POW families at Rosary Hill and many of the ladies moved up to the Hill. The Club was abandoned and the looters did their work well.

When World War II ended and we were allowed to return to Hong Kong and life normalised, all that remained of the Club house were the 4 walls. Bishop Valtorta asked Rita Xavier to help him rebuild the Club. Through her connections in the building trade, Rita was able to bring the Club house back to its pre-war state. Rita was President of the Club for 10 years in those early post war days. I understand Betty Baptista is presently running the Club.