What we do and where we do it

Crossroads – The story

We never meant to start Crossroads. We believed that the world had enough worthy causes. The last thing we wanted to do was start another one. Instead, we decided to help those already in existence. So how DID Crossroads start? We still stand in amazement that it happened at all and continue to wonder why Crossroads continues to grow at an astonishing rate. Here’s the story.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Why set up a Refugee Run?

We live in a world where the plight of the forcibly displaced is too often reduced to a set of statistics or data on a graph or pie chart. Our longing is to work with refugees in order to bring alive, even under limited conditions, the dilemma faced by the 43.3 million people who are refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons).
How should that need be communicated?  One can use speeches, Powerpoint presentations, academic papers, and the like. We include educational ‘role play’, through simulation, because people tell us they connect far better with the need. As one CEO said, after participating in the simulation at Davos, “It’s the difference between hearing and being.”

What are its goals?

Three “E”s best capture the desired outcomes:
·    Education: We hope to give greater knowledge of this need.
·    Empathy: We want participants to engage, to care about refugees and IDPs.
·    Empowerment: We explore ways, during our debrief, for participants to respond. Businesses can do a lot, using their core competencies, to engage at a strategic level to attain a sustainable outcome. Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development have a critical role in this. Students can also engage, though differently. Our debriefing times are geared to the nature of the group participating.

Is it realistic? Is it respectful?

It is always a challenge to portray a global issue in a sensitive way.  Any simulation can only go so far, of course: somewhat like a live snap shot.
In this, the simulation format faces the same challenge as other forms of communication:  movies, documentaries, living museums, speeches or written papers.  All may fail to give a realistic, or even a respectful, representation of displaced people.
To guard against this, we have both refugee and NGO representatives work together on all parts of the simulation: the story line and its trueness to life, the props and set that best reflect reality and the points they consider of critical importance for participants to take away.
Raphael Mwandu, from DR Congo, is one example. He not only advises on the set, but, as an artist, helps construct it.  Further, he helps train the staff for it, serves as one of the actors and assists with the debrief. “The things you see in this experience are the same as those that happen in the camps,” he says.  “I love doing this work because I want to let others know what is going on in our world so that people can meet together and find solutions.”
The input of our refugee colleagues is further supported by refugees we know through our broader work, shipments we send to refugee locations, and visits we make to camps or other places of refuge.

What is the outcome?

Crossroads has held this simulation weekly, in Hong Kong, over the past five years and watched people become motivated in ways that they never have before.
Many of the Hong Kong corporate leaders who have participated say it is more powerful than other forms of presentation and, as a result, have remained involved with global issues, long after their simulation experience. Simulation experience has also birthed NGOs, projects and further engagement in the community, both adult and student.

Is it for money?

Those running it receive no financial remuneration. They are volunteers.
Those who participate are not asked for money. The primary goal of the simulation is consciousness raising.  During their debrief, however, participants discuss ways that corporate engagement can help provide sustainable strategies for those impacted by such tragic circumstances.

Who is it suited for?

Different people learn in different ways: some find experiential learning more powerful while others prefer a straight cerebral process.

Refugees and displaced people, however, have expressed concern that their plight may be beyond others’ understanding without a fuller opportunity to experience, even though brief, a measure of their situation.

Participants tell us that, when they undertake this experience, they find it effective in ways they did not expect. Even those who say they come to it with a measure of scepticism often leave with a very different perspective, deeply moved.

This simulation is offered in the hope of narrowing the gap between the understanding of those who are displaced and those who would like to engage with them. As the Chinese proverb puts it: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

How intense is the simulation?

It is a very powerful experience. For that reason, we have a minimum recommended age of 15 (unless with parental supervision) and we take time to warn those considering the experience that they will be placed in a highly intense situation. We also assure them that no actual harm will come to them.

In addition, we tell them that if at any point during the experience, participants feel they cannot manage, we give them a way to leave immediately and have staff ready to speak with them, as needed. Since we began offering this simulation, we have almost never found people do so, but the offer is always there.

How do people respond?

When we asked participants the impressions they gained of life for a refugee, they told us the following.
“A profound experience that reminds us of the plight of millions of forcibly displaced people.”Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
“Beautifully done.” Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Management Ltd.
“Everyone should do this. It will change the way you see refugees.” Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia
“A remarkable experience… One is moved, emotionally, out of normality, to a better understanding of the fears and dangers present for refugees.” Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, Colombia University
“The bit of Davos I will remember for the rest of my life.” Sir John Gieve, Harvard University
“Humbling, inspiring, thought-provoking and motivating – a truly remarkable experience. Thank you!” Jane Nelson, Director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative
“The simulation was as close to real as I could imagine. I now have a much greater appreciation for the needs of displaced people and will be an advocate for sending the message.” Dan Brutto, President, UPS International
“Thank you…for the very powerful experience you gave so many of us…it was very well done – unsettling, authentic, transformative.” Amy E Roth, International Justice Mission
“I don’t know how anyone could do this experience and not come out morally obligated to do something about it.” Paul Ellingstad, Director, Office of Global Social Innovation, HP
“Most impactful experience I’ve had in a long time, with real inspiration to take action. Don’t miss this!” Mack Gill, President, Global Services, Sungard
“Thank you on behalf of the 43 million refugees.” Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the Board, Nestle
“A truly eye-opening session. It was a pause for deep reflection. I hope we can help in the future and will do all to make that happen.” Peter Lacy, Managing Director for Sustainability Service Group, Accenture
“Everyone at WEF should be required to do this.” Josh Spear, Founding Partner, Undercurrent.
“I’m most moved by the incredible dedication of this group of people to give a voice to the 43.3 million.” Hans Hickler, CEO for Agility, Asia Pacific Region
Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

HELPING LIGHT THE DARKNESS

The BBC calls if ‘the worst refugee camp on earth’. A camp on the far-flung island of Lesvos, Greece, seen by...

read more ...

7,000 brand new toys for Christmas

The quantity was astonishing: 7,000 brand new toys, donated through our Global Hand service by a leading toy manufacturer. NGOs across...

read more ...

Excelsior Hotel close equips HK social enterprise

It was the end of an era when Hong Kong’s beloved Excelsior shut down in early 2019. As their doors closed,...

read more ...

Helping equip Ukrainian maternity facility

"Finally, the repair of our maternity hospital is finished," wrote our colleagues in the Ukraine. "Your beds are in refurbished rooms...

read more ...

The Guinness Book of Records has accepted an application from a Hong Kong university student, Lorencio Mateo, who visited 801 7-Eleven stores, in 60 days, for Crossroads.

Lorencio battled all forms of public transportation for his marathon and tracked it on a self-made website, http://www.lorencio.us/, featuring photos of himself at each 7-Eleven.

Friends supported his adventure, reading his entries and viewing his photos along the way.  His original plan was to donate HK$10 for every 7-Eleven he visited. As word spread, though, others gave financially as well, bringing the sum to $8,000.

The 7-Eleven retail chain recognised his efforts with a donated Octopus card bearing the 7-Eleven logo.

Crossroads stands in awe at Lorencio’s extraordinary commitment and stunning originality.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

HELPING LIGHT THE DARKNESS

The BBC calls if ‘the worst refugee camp on earth’. A camp on the far-flung island of Lesvos, Greece, seen by...

read more ...

7,000 brand new toys for Christmas

The quantity was astonishing: 7,000 brand new toys, donated through our Global Hand service by a leading toy manufacturer. NGOs across...

read more ...

Excelsior Hotel close equips HK social enterprise

It was the end of an era when Hong Kong’s beloved Excelsior shut down in early 2019. As their doors closed,...

read more ...

Helping equip Ukrainian maternity facility

"Finally, the repair of our maternity hospital is finished," wrote our colleagues in the Ukraine. "Your beds are in refurbished rooms...

read more ...

As the days wear on in the tragic aftermath of the Sichuan quake, the suffering deepens. 5 million survivors, now homeless, endure the daily battle with rain, exposure to the hostile elements and the threat of disease.

“In the days immediately following the quake,” said our Crossroads worker in the field, “people settled in the open spaces. The problem has now become that there is little option for shelter in these areas. Groups of 20 people have been huddling in shelters made for 7.”

Through the generosity of DHL, Crossroads was able to send 15 tonnes of plastic sheeting, blankets and medical supplies into the quake zone. Red Cross and Crossroads volunteers met the emergency flight in Chengdu and escorted the relief items on a 12 hour journey along partially collapsed roads. The final destination was a village in Qingchuan County, in an area that had been cordoned off due to the spread of disease.

 5

“Into this situation, the gift of shelter is unimaginable,” the Crossroads worker commented. “As we delivered the aid, words of thanks kept coming from everyone, from the gas station attendants who were filling the tanks, to the ladies serving the food, the officials, and finally the people most deeply affected. On every side they were saying, ‘Thank you for what you are doing to help our people and China.’

We are deeply grateful to DHL for the strategic provision of its core competencies in this catastrophic situation.

This was the second round of aid that we have prepared for the earthquake zone. Working from pre-positioned materials and in cooperation with KPMG we have also sent two containers of relief supplies.

Within China, Crossroads is partnering with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation: a registered China charitable organisation with distribution facilities in Sichuan, and head office in Beijing.

Help continues to be needed as we are committed to assisting not only in this current emergency situation but for the lengthy process of rebuilding.

“The people are relieved for a moment when you bring them the goods,” said the Crossroads worker, “but when we ask them about the future, their eyes well in despair. Whole towns have gone. Fields for crops and livelihoods wiped out. We must be committed to helping these people in the long term.”

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE GOODS, Crossroads has been advised that, at this time, the urgent needs are for the following items. Important: It is China’s policy that all donated items must be new. They are currently requesting:

• Blankets
• Bulk clothing, babies’and toddlers’ in particular
• Tents
• Sleeping bags

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE CASH, click here for our form and mark your donation, “China Earthquake”. We will use your donation to cover the costs of sending this relief to those affected.

You are welcome to contact us for further enquiries.
Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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HELPING LIGHT THE DARKNESS

The BBC calls if ‘the worst refugee camp on earth’. A camp on the far-flung island of Lesvos, Greece, seen by...

read more ...

7,000 brand new toys for Christmas

The quantity was astonishing: 7,000 brand new toys, donated through our Global Hand service by a leading toy manufacturer. NGOs across...

read more ...

Excelsior Hotel close equips HK social enterprise

It was the end of an era when Hong Kong’s beloved Excelsior shut down in early 2019. As their doors closed,...

read more ...

Helping equip Ukrainian maternity facility

"Finally, the repair of our maternity hospital is finished," wrote our colleagues in the Ukraine. "Your beds are in refurbished rooms...

read more ...

What was wrong with this Christmas card?  The man in red was clearly not at the North Pole: he was in the sunny tropics. He was clearly not, either, borne by a set of reindeer; he was precariously perched on an animal he had named Rudolf the Red Nosed Water Buffalo.

Gavin Philippines

One look at the children’s faces, though, showed that none of that seemed to matter! They were alight with wonder that special gifts were coming to them: they had been remembered and loved in a way they had not experienced before.

“It all began when I saw my wife shopping in Hong Kong,” says Gavin Coates, Hong Kong’s renowned artist and landscape architect. “What is all that stuff for?” I asked, as she emerged with large numbers of small gifts. I was less than excited at the prospect of lugging these all the way to the Philippines. “They’re for the children,” she beamed, adding a confident, “You’ll see!”

A  few weeks later, Gavin says, he did indeed see the joy she had been anticipating. The two had returned to Gloria’s home village in the Philippines, and offered the children a Christmas party, complete with Gavin dressed as Santa Claus on a water buffalo! Amid the high-pitched excited tones of the children’s voices, one man turned to him with a serious expression to speak, as Gavin put it, ‘with great heart’.

“You don’t know what you’ve done,” he said. “You’ve given something to the kids that they have never seen before.”

He was right. After that first party, with 50 kids, Gavin and Gloria were asked to hold more. Each year, the size of the parties multiplied and the enthusiasm of the village grew with them.

In time, this compassionate couple began asking what more they could contribute to the lives of the village children. As they spoke with the local people, they received one consistent answer: education. For many children, the cost of school was simply beyond the family’s reach. Without it, though, they were destined for a life in the fields, battling the poverty which beset their fathers and grandfathers before them. “The only way out, long term, is education,” Gavin and Gloria were told. They began raising funds to put some of these little ones in school. Donors responded generously and the project grew as they supplied fees, uniforms, books and travel allowances: everything needed to ensure the children could attend. All funds were passed on directly to the schools themselves to maximise accountability.

Today, the Balanghari Educational Institute, as they came to call their project, sees scores of children schooled at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

Crossroads has given supplies from its warehouse to support the work of the Balanghari Educational Institute and is now formally partnering with the project. If you would like to sponsor a child’s school needs, through the BEI, you can click here to do so. Please be careful to write Balanghari Educational Institute in the online form. Or, if you would prefer to write a cheque, please send it to Crossroads Foundation, 2 Castle Peak Road, Tuen Mun, HKSAR and please indicate, on the back of the cheque, that it is for the Balanghari Educational Institute so we can be sure it reaches them safely.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Philippines Snapshot

Population: 98,39 million
Capital: Manila

Population living below international poverty line of US$1.25 per day: 26.5%

Government statistics indicate that 1.57% of people in the Philippines are living with a disability. 97% of people living with disabilities are not being reached by the public school system.A51

HELPING LIGHT THE DARKNESS

The BBC calls if ‘the worst refugee camp on earth’. A camp on the far-flung island of Lesvos, Greece, seen by...

read more ...

7,000 brand new toys for Christmas

The quantity was astonishing: 7,000 brand new toys, donated through our Global Hand service by a leading toy manufacturer. NGOs across...

read more ...

Excelsior Hotel close equips HK social enterprise

It was the end of an era when Hong Kong’s beloved Excelsior shut down in early 2019. As their doors closed,...

read more ...

Helping equip Ukrainian maternity facility

"Finally, the repair of our maternity hospital is finished," wrote our colleagues in the Ukraine. "Your beds are in refurbished rooms...

read more ...