Every grandma in Chinatown, wheeling her cart and clutching her plastic bags, has a story. Mantai Chow's short documentary The Forgotten Ones, recently showcased by the The Atlantic, profiles elderly people who've lived in New York City for decades, but who are struggling as they grow older alone.
80-year-old King-Sim Ng, whose husband passed away years ago, and whose children have moved out. She has been living alone in Manhattan's Chinatown for 15 years. The heartbreaking film follows Ng through her regular routine as she digs through discarded food and finds moments of companionship with fellow seniors.
In the film, Ng disappears after being hit by a car, leaving her friends wondering about her condition and her whereabouts. In the comments of The Atlantic post, Chow gives an update.
"I got in touch with her finally in June after the film [was] done," Chow writes. "She is back in her apartment safe and sound. She seems to be fine but her legs are still a bit weak. Tay visits Ng in her apartment almost every day now to give her food and stuff. Her children also are helping out! I hope things will get better for her."
Judging from the comments, the film clearly struck a nerve. Many asked about what they could do to help. Chow hopes this small glimpse into Ng's life will inspire folks to lend a hand to those in need, particularly to those who might be less willing to ask for help.
"I think what we all can do is to keep our eyes open," he says. "When we see a need, we give a helping hand. It can be as simple as chatting with the elderly people in the street, buying them lunch and eating with them. This kind of support is especially important for those like Ng who is reluctant to reach out to the community centers and social services."
More here: Aging and Alone in Manhattan's Chinatown