It is a truth that we meet every year, but never get used to: that unexpected disaster which caught a population off guard. And there is a matching truth just as painful. While disasters strike rich and poor alike, it is the poor communities who are hardest hit, by a very wide margin. Both realities grieve us.  We can never get used to either.

That is why we resonate with those who say that, surely, we can keep our human race safer. We can increase early warning alerts, be better educated on what to do, construct safer buildings, locate populations more wisely. The list is massive. We can’t stop hazards threatening our planet but we can reduce the risk that they will turn into such damaging disasters.

After the tragic tsunamis that shocked the world on Boxing Day, in 2004, the United Nations gathered world leaders in Japan to lay out a framework that could help keep nations people safer and more resilient. That was in 2005. In 2015, that framework was reviewed, again in Japan, with the wisdom of ten years’ experience. Crossroads was invited to attend and to speak about the new Disaster X-perience we are developing, at the UN’s request.

It delights us to support any measure we can in order to make the world safer and its people less vulnerable.

Below: Malcolm and Sally Begbie, Crossroads’ directors, attending the World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, March 2015.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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With all the heartache in Syria, some are asking what hope there is for the region’s children. Is theirs a lost generation.

“We have only a narrow opportunity to intervene now as this potentially lost generation confronts its future”, warned High Commissioner Antonio Guterres, through the UNHCR website. “Abandoning refugees to hopelessness only exposes them to even greater suffering, exploitation and dangerous abuse”.

The Syrian crisis is impacting millions of families. Over half of those uprooted by the disaster are children. In the winter of 2015, hundreds from the Hong Kong community helped Crossroads send winter kits of warm clothing and toys to children in refugee camps and settlements in the Middle East for the third year running.

The appeal saw 5,290 children given winter kits through our partners on the ground, who have been working with these children, building relationships with families and helping with schooling, trauma counselling and other needs. We also ran a summer campaign, which saw backpacks and stationery distributed to children in the camps.

Backpacks and stationery from our summer Syrian appeal helped welcome Syrian refugee children in Jordan to school, many of whom have missed months or years of their education because of the conflict.

Backpacks and stationery from our summer Syrian appeal helped welcome Syrian refugee children in Jordan to school, many of whom have missed months or years of their education because of the conflict.

 

Crossroads coordinated a response that saw more than 5,000 given warm clothes and shoes in the winter of 2014/15.

Crossroads coordinated a response that saw more than 5,000 given warm clothes and shoes in the winter of 2014/15.

IMG_2182Syria-Feedback1-1024x906 copy

“A baby died here overnight,” grieved one of our partners during the cold winter months in refugee camps in Jordan. Some Syrian refugee children are without proper shoes in the cold weather, many don’t have suitable winter sweaters and jackets. (Picture below)

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HELPING LIGHT THE DARKNESS

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If you saw the movie, Hotel Rwanda, you’ll remember its searing agony. The pain was almost palpable.

There was a deeper tragedy, though. A journalist in the movie captured it well. People, he said, would see the suffering ‘and say “That’s horrible” and then go on eating their dinners.’ He was right.. The Rwandan genocide, in 1994, saw 800,000 people killed while we, globally, largely turned our backs.  One of the worst aspects of war is that we get ‘used’ to it.

The pain of Rwanda’s refugees has continued from that day until now. So has the need for help. In 2004, some of our team happened upon Rwandan refugees living in Kenya. Although ten years had passed since the end of the war, they were still unable to go home. Today, many remain.

How can they survive? Many lost everything in the conflict: family, home and possessions. The one thing war could not take, though, was their tradition. So these enterprising Rwandans put their age-old skills to good work and created cards and crafts to sell, distributed through NGOs around the world. In Crossroads, we have sold their highly original work ever since we met them, helping generate income for them, on a fair trade basis. A big seller has been their fascinating Christmas sets, made with stunning character and ‘packaged’ in a gourd from their region.

We often say, at Crossroads, we invest ‘for life’.  It’s been a decade since these Rwandan refugees started selling through us and they continue to today. Ten years is not a long time in the aftermath of war.  

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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One of our goals, in Hong Kong, is to empower charities in their care for others.  Often NGOs are strapped for cash, struggling to serve as they battle staff shortages and other resources which are limited. If we can provide equipment or any other resource which saves them money, time and energy, then we are delighted. If you are a registered NGO in Hong Kong, and if we can help you, please email or call us. We love to serve! Since Crossroads began, we have partnered with many of Hong Kong’s NGOs.

Capture

 

YOUNG PEOPLE & BABIES IN NEED

F1024px-Mothers_Choice_Kennedy_Road_Signor almost three decades, Mother’s Choice has played a special role in Hong Kong, helping 51,000 single girls, caring for 3,600 babies and assisting with 1,400 successful adoption cases.
We have partnered with Mother’s Choice since our earliest days. This year, for example, we gave computers for their administrative needs.

They wrote: “Your gift enables us to raise the bar in providing top quality care… Thank you to Crossroads for helping us to strengthen our infrastructure so that we can better serve babies, special needs children, and young girls in Hong Kong.”

photo 2

 

DRUG REHABILITATION

RS19829_0005281 155 10Hong Kong NGO, St Stephen’s Society, takes people through a two stage process as they recover from addiction. First, they guide them through the immediate, painful process of withdrawal and stabilisation. Then they place them in apartments across Hong Kong in order to help them become rehabilitated and ready for a return to society. Since inception, they have opened approx. 270 apartments, “most of which you helped furnish,” they tell us. It delightsRS19828_0005280 000 00 us to see that investment into homes like these, over a couple of decades, can help thousands start life over.

st stephens

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

“Light Home is possibly the turning point of my life,” says Mrs Lee, a client of Crossroads’ partner Light Be. The social enterprise organisation arranges affordable housing, or ‘Light Homes’, by connecting Hong Kong landlords with underprivileged families. Crossroads often supplies furniture and household goods to fill their apartments. “Every month we go to Crossroads and look for furniture that will fit the needs of the families we serve,” says Ricky of Light Be. “If it’s an empty apartment, you won’t feel at home. This helps make the overall experience of housing complete. It might be the first time in two years that someone has had a table of their own.”

Crossroads loves working with Light Be, and the feeling seems to be mutual! “I think Crossroads provides the biggest selection of second-hand furniture in Hong Kong,” explains Ricky. “We have a common mission, in terms of optimising resources in this city. It’s like other NGOs we work with. We fill each other’s gaps.”

1024px-HK_Central_Market_中環街市_Des_Voeux_Road_someone_sleeping_there_stairs_Feb-2010

CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT FOR LOW INCOME CHILDREN

In Hong Kong’s Tai Wai area, 22% of local residents have no education beyond primary level and many families live on less than HK$200 per day. Hong Kong NGO, Sprouts Foundation and FCC Education Services Centre, is a creative, committed group that teaches language, IT and life skills to children in need. Crossroads donated kitchen equipment to Sprouts in support of their work to enrich these young lives. Pictured here is a fun day in which they used that equipment to teach the kids the joy of baking. Sprouts shows wide diversity and creativity in their efforts to enrich the lives of children less fortunate.

IMG_7415

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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In the 1970’s, Leribe, in Lesotho, was the setting for an imperfect storm.

Our shipments to Lesotho supported many aspects of their hospital care. We sent not only beds, but also medical equipment, including video gastroscopes, surgical instruments and an ultrasound machine

Our shipments to Lesotho supported many aspects of their hospital care. We sent not only beds, but also medical equipment, including video gastroscopes, surgical instruments and an ultrasound machine

Its mountainous land yielded poor soil for farming and left communities isolated, with people malnourished and hungry. Lesotho’s men left in droves to work in South Africa to support their families. Many brought back a deadly souvenir: HIV, which took hold in Lesotho. Today, the nation boasts the third highest rate of HIV in the world. In turn, that’s left 1 in 3 children orphaned, it’s contributed to a life expectancy of 48.7 years and half the nation living below the poverty line.

Goods for the hospital and school are loaded into the container at Crossroads in Hong Kong.

Goods for the hospital and school are loaded into the container at Crossroads in Hong Kong.

The problems that besieged Lesotho went largely unnoticed by the rest of the world. “Most of the time we feel we are in this battle alone and we feel like giving up…” said Crossroads’ partner in Leribe, Rohini Knight, who runs a hospital there. She was not born in Lesotho. She and her husband, both doctors, came originally from Sri Lanka. When they saw Leribe, though, they decided that they had to help, even if it took their entire life’s work. That was 27 years ago and it has, in fact, taken their life’s work. She and her husband laboured for decades until his recent death. Rohini and their

Goods for the hospital and school are loaded into the container at Crossroads in Hong Kong.

Goods for the hospital and school are loaded into the container at Crossroads in Hong Kong.

team have continued the work.

Crossroads also invested in Leribe’s schools, with desks, chairs, and educational equipment and supplies.

Crossroads also invested in Leribe’s schools, with desks, chairs, and educational equipment and supplies.

When the doctors first moved into Leribe, it was beset with problems typifying rural Lesotho: inadequate schooling, poor roads leading to isolation, no medical service, an imbalanced diet and no running water. Many of the men had left the area to work in South African mines, leaving their wives lonely and with little to fill their days. The Knights began with a preschool. They trained local women in teaching skills, opened the first preschool in the area, giving the women income and purpose as well as the children foundational education. That led to a primary school, and, then, a hospital. The flourishing services grew, along with the local population, who were drawn to the excellent school and medical services. Their efforts were wholistic. Better roads were built, and running water installed.

Crossroads met the Knights just over a decade ago, when they came to Hong Kong and shared their vision. We began by investing in the hospital, sending beds, hospital furniture and tiles suitable for sterilised flooring. We also sent quality medical equipment donated by Hong Kong hospitals, including video gastroscopes, surgical equipment, hospital beds and an ultrasound machine. Since then, we have shipped twice more to their work, helping equip their school classrooms and a conference centre and sending further support for the hospital.

Since we shipped, so long ago, we know that the goods from Hong Kong have served thousands of people in medical need in Leribe. They have supported the gamut of care: from HIV complications to ectopic pregnancies, from surgeries required to disease, from dietary problems to stress-related illness, and from maternal care to the delivery of many, many healthy babies.

Crossroads is not in a place to invest financial capital, but we can make a capital investment of goods that are, quite literally, the gift that keeps on giving.

It is our goal, in Crossroads, to invest for life. Our partnership in Lesotho is one example of many we celebrate in this our anniversary year.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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

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

read more ...

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GLOBAL HAND HELPED UN FIGHT EBOLA CRISIS

The West African Ebola epidemic had the world terrified. Its growing death toll would eventually reach 11,000, bringing with it the constant fear that the the outbreak would spread further. Organisations across the globe perceived the need for a coordinated response but many weren’t
sure how to help. The United Nations asked Global Hand in 2014 to build an online response page where the business community could give money, services and ideas towards the Ebola crisis. The page was part of a broader IT website portal that Global Hand created and has maintained for the
UN since 2010: https://business.un.org/ It is a portal for businesses to interact with the UN in multiple ways: a place to establish non-profit partnerships, make CSR commitments and provide disaster response.

Ebola 2014 UN

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 2015

Delegates participate in the Struggle for Survival simulation.It’s easy to wish that some of the world’s most powerful people could visit some of the world’s least powerful.

It can be hard to bring such people to a slum area, but, through simulation, we can bring a brief ‘x-perience’ of poverty to them. That’s why we took the ‘Struggle for
Survival’ to the World Economic Forum in Davos again in 2015.

Jasmine Whitbread, CEO of Save the Children, participated in the Struggle for Survival.

Jasmine Whitbread, CEO of Save the Children, participated in the Struggle for Survival.

Our Global X-perience team ran the x-perience for Davos participants and it was, as always, an amazing, fruitful time with many corporate and political leaders taking part.

“It is more than a simulation. It’s a life changing experience,” said Ryan Erenhouse from MasterCard. “Even though I have many times visited … the poorest communities… this exercise does something more… It makes you really feel it,” said Gene Sperling, former National Economic Advisor to President Clinton and President Obama.

Each participant was challenged to make commitments as to how they would use their own resources and influence now to make a difference in the lives of the poor.

Gene Sperling, former advisor to President Obama on education, took part in the Struggle for Survival and was filmed by CNN.

Gene Sperling, former advisor to President Obama on education, took part in the Struggle for Survival and was filmed by CNN.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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

read more ...

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

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“We love the meaning behind Freeset’s shirts. When you put one on, it feels like you’re wearing the gift of employment.” Kate Falconer, Crossroad Foundation Director of Operations

RS31043_Bijoya

“My mother hated her life as a sex worker, but she did it for us,” concurs Debi*, one of those benefitting from Freeset. As a young girl, Debi struggled to study because of the constant stream of men coming into the home, customers for her mother’s services. It was even worse when Debi grew older. “Many customers then wanted me,” she recounts. “That’s when I thought, if I could just grow up and get married, I could get away from this.” (*Name changed)

“More than 10,000 women stand in line, daily, to sell their bodies,” says NGO Freeset in Kolkata’s largest and most infamous sex district, Sonagacchi. “Poverty has left them without options. The cries of their hungry children drive them to sell their bodies.”

She found an option other than prostitution through Freeset, a fair trade textiles enterprise. Debi had a job she could do with dignity and an appropriate salary. She was slowly able to save money and, in time, get married and move out of home. She even had enough to help support her mother.

376d8238666e15fd80af4527bb577535d91ddc92_large copyToday, Freeset employs more than 190 women making bags, t-shsirts, bangles and more. Many come from the sex industry. Others come from a background that placed them at risk, as Debi’s did. We have been ordering Freeset products since 2009, selling their funky jute tote bags and, later, the custom designed t-shirts. In 2012, we added our new red Crossroads t-shirts to the order: those worn by our staff and sold in our Marketplace. In 2014, Freeset produced our beautiful annual Christmas cards, which included pieces of recycled sari. Their products are among our most popular.

It’s been a long partnership with this excellent organisation which, as their slogan well puts it, is “in business for freedom”. It is our goal, in Crossroads, to invest for life. Our partnership with Freeset is one example of many we celebrate in this our anniversary year.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Shop Now!

Browse Global Handicrafts’ full online range here or visit our shop at Crossroads Village to walk through our colourful global marketplace, with even more handmade delights from around the world, all of which care for the people who made them.

SHOP

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

read more ...

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Cambodia: From Slavery to Safety

“These children will never have had a present all of their own without any sexual favours being demanded of them.”

The young Cambodian girls in the photo above have a dark reason for hiding their faces. Each was once sold into prostitution and has escaped or been rescued from slavery.

Over recent years, Crossroads has sent goods to this sparsely resourced centre, to assist their dedicated team as they seek to rescue, love, support, rehabilitate and train the girls for a brand new life.

Some of our provision has been classroom equipment to help the girls gain the skills they need for safe employment in the future. This year, we took further provision but added a little extra touch which surprised us in its impact. As a simple gift of love, we included some plush baby seal toys, part of a mammoth donation
we’d been given by Li & Fung. “It broke my heart to see how very, very happy and excited they were to receive a seal,” wrote our partner there.

“Some of them carried their seal around with them for the rest of the day, eating their meals with their seal on their lap, dancing and holding their seal….”

We sent a further 3,000 seals for distribution among other young ones who have had an embattled life in Cambodia.


 

Crossroads and Gender Equality in the Workplace

49.4% female 50.5% male

49.4% female
50.5% male

Crossroads is proud to be an inclusive work environment, where both men and women have equal opportunities for advancement. Working parents have flexibility in their work schedule and onsite childcare or schooling is offered for the children of full-time staff.

 

 

 

.


 

Zimbabwe: Much Needed Glasses Bought by Fair Trade Profit

“When more women work, economies grow.” UN Women

IMG_7260IMG_7256IMG_2012

ZBGO5104 (2)When female unemployment in Zimbabwe was at 97%, a bunch of smart women got together and created a knitting cooperative called Gogo Olive. (Knitting, they explained, is easy and can be done anywhere.) They knit stuffed animal toys which are as funky as their name and they call them ‘shamwari’, which means ‘friends.’ These little creatures are among our best sellers in our Global Handicrafts shop.

ZBGO5105 (2)When we buy products from Gogo Olive (and many others), we not only pay the ‘fair trade’ minimum. We pay an additional sum which the women use to invest back into their community and families. The Gogo Olive ‘grannies’ were able to buy eyeglasses for some of their workers with this ‘premium’ payment. It was a joy to see photos of the proud faces of these middle-aged craftswomen wearing their new glasses, for some the first glasses they had owned.


Beauty in a Brothel

Beauty lived in a poor Indian village where she agonised to see her father struggle to meet costs for his nine children.

IMG_3909At just 16, she was desperate to contribute to the family income. She turned to a trusted ‘aunty’ of the family. Her aunty said she could find Beauty a job as a housemaid. Beauty took it but soon found that the job was in fact in a brothel. She was trapped. One of our partners met her just a month after Beauty began the work. She runs a papercraft business in Kolkata’s red light district that takes women from the sex industry and gives them new jobs, new training and a new dignity. Named Love Calcutta Arts, it was this group that created
our 2014 Christmas cards. 20 young women in their employment have created thousands of Christmas cards for us using handmade paper and cuttings from beautiful recycled saris. We were excited to share their creativity and their story with the world as we sent the cards to our partners, supporters and friends.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Shop Now!

Browse Global Handicrafts’ full online range here or visit our shop at Crossroads Village to walk through our colourful global marketplace, with even more handmade delights from around the world, all of which care for the people who made them.

SHOP

Give Now!

Donate to a shipment like this one.

DONATE MONEY

Donate Goods!

Want to donate goods for a shipment like this one?

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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 ...

Toxic Waste.

Toxic Outcome.

2011-0101-WEEE_0351

They call them “electronic graveyards”: vast dumping grounds in west-Africa, where millions of tonnes of discarded computers and appliances from the rest of the world are sent to find a final, toxic resting place.

It often costs less to dump the goods overseas than recycle them properly. Items such as broken televisions, computers and keyboards are shipped to Ghana and other nearby nations, where people in poverty sift through them for parts to sell. It’s poisonous not only to local waterways and soil, but also to the people who are trying to make a living from dealing with the electronic waste, and those in the neighbourhood affected by toxic fumes from burn-off.

We’re acutely aware at Crossroads that when the planet suffers, its people suffer too, and it’s the poor who are left the most vulnerable to environmental change. Each year, we’re donated thousands of electronic and electrical goods, which we gratefully redistribute to people in need. Sometimes, though, donated appliances and computers are broken or missing parts and need to be disposed of. When that happens, we want to manage the disposal process in a way that causes the least harm to the environment.

front door

Enter St James Settlement and their WEEE Go Green project.

Partnering with St James Settlement’s WEEE Go Green hasn’t just helped the environment, it’s invested in local underprivileged people, who are employed to process the recycling.

Partnering with St James Settlement’s WEEE Go Green hasn’t just helped the environment, it’s invested in local underprivileged people, who are employed to process the recycling.

For more than seven years we have partnered on the project, which offers a neat solution to the problem of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) in Hong Kong. Their workshop in Tuen Mun takes discarded WEEE from around the city and then trains and employs disadvantaged people from the community to process the goods. Whatever can be fixed is repaired and donated to the elderly and other needy groups and whatever can’t be fixed is stripped and recycled efficiently. Crossroads’ partnership on the project has been an investment not only in the lives of those employed, who have been given new skills and opportunities, but in the health of our planet and the people who suffer because of environmental damage.

 

refurbishment of refrigeratorOver the course of our partnership, Crossroads has given WEEE Go Green a hefty 38,443 kg of electronic and electrical waste. Some of those items were even repaired and given back to Crossroads, so that we could give them away to our clients in need. On other occasions, the workshop has sourced equipment for our own operations, like a chest freezer that our kitchen staff needed to store food for daily volunteer catering. They also supply us with new rice cookers for local clients who need them, from a stockpile of 30,000 donated to them – an incredible and valuable gift!

In a city that generates 70,000 tonnes in WEEE each year, it is a privilege to partner with groups like St James Settlement who care enough about our environment and our people to make Hong Kong a safer place for both.

dismantling the WEEE

The repairing and recycling of WEEE is an investment in Hong Kong’s greener future.

It is our goal, in Crossroads, to invest for life. Our environmental partnership with St James is one example of many we celebrate in this our anniversary year.

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 ...

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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 ...

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