Fiji: Pain Behind the Paradise
Life in Fiji isn’t, sadly, the postcard we imagine.
Behind its picture perfect beaches and five star resorts, much of Fiji’s rural population lives in surprising poverty and struggles to meet the basic needs of their families. Village life looks idyllic, with its crops and swaying palm trees, but it’s far from that if the younger generation is unable to learn, thrive and stay in school. For some years, Hong Kong school, International Christian School (ICS), has been working with a Fijian community school, where ageing buildings and lack of resources have placed the children at a constant disadvantage. Only one school building has electricity, there are very few books, or basic supplies such as chalk and they don’t have enough school furniture to cater for all their students. “Half of the classes are held on the floor,” ICS told us.
School teams have regularly visited Fiji to help renovate and refurbish the facilities, but they asked us for help with needed equipment and supplies. After we had prepared it, ICS teachers themselves came to Crossroads and happily loaded the shipment. Even their enthusiasm, though, is out-matched, they say, by that of the Fijians themselves. “Despite everything, these are the happiest people you will ever meet,” staff wrote. “All four villages around the school are so excited about the container and fixing the school up.” We’re thankful to the school for making this shipment happen, and to countless other schools around Hong Kong who’ve been equally generous with their hands, hearts and pockets, partnering on other shipments.
Kenya and Nigeria: Global Hand Match
So many of our African partners write to us about village schools where children meet for class under a tree and write with sticks in the dust for lack of proper stationery. So when a UK office stationery supplier had five pallets of exercise books to give away, we knew the gift would be valuable! Global Hand connected the company with the African NGO SuhoG, a dynamic group that runs programmes for Africa’s rural poor. They quickly came back to us with photos of beaming kids who received them in Kenya and Nigeria. “Thank you for the difference this made”, they wrote. “They came in their hundreds for the books!”
The Sweet Smell of Success
What difference can a 6 or 7 year old make after a massive tragedy? Many would have thought it too daunting, but three young entrepreneurs at Kowloon Junior School, Moolchandani, Nishita Kirpalani and Diya Daryanani, had an astonishingly original idea. They made perfume to fundraise for the Typhoon Haiyan disaster victims.
Each produced 50 bottles, with three different scents, for their school fair. Before day was done, they had none left, with some customers disappointed at missing out. Their sales totalled $4,680 and, minus costs, they could donate $2,600.
Word of their endeavours reached Mrs Cherry Tse, Permanent Secretary of the Educational Bureau, when she visited KJS. She personally congratulated the young entrepreneurs.
The girls’ example both inspired and convicted us. Even as adults, it is easy to think “What difference can I make to global need?” Kids like this serve as a wake-up call to take action.
Hong Kong Student Organises Donation to the Philippines
Joyce Fung, from Hong Kong school German Swiss International School (GSIS), is a student fired up to change the world! “I’m always looking for ways to give back to the community,” she says. After the devastating Typhoon Haiyan left so many homeless in the Philippines, Joyce wanted to encourage business to use their resources to help. She had found a company in the Philippines ready and willing to donate goods but she wasn’t sure how to take the next step, so she emailed Crossroads for advice. We helped Joyce post the donation on our Global Hand website, and within a day, there were two NGOs in the Philippines who responded saying they would love to claim the goods!
After hearing the response, the textiles company decided to donate even more, so that both NGOs could enjoy the same level of donation. Joyce was so encouraged that she immediately looked for even more ways to give! She convinced her school, which has recently changed to a different leaving certificate system, to donate their entire syllabus of A-level textbooks to Crossroads: a gift we delight to place in schools without sufficient books.
The world needs more ‘Joyces’, and Crossroads loves to be part of guiding them in how they can use their skills and interests to make a difference!