2021 is a frightening year to be living in an Indian slum. Pre-pandemic, slum life was already precarious. Relying on a small daily wage for the day’s food means that any minor medical or economic setback can leave a family starving. But during India’s catastrophic 2021 Covid wave, day labourer slum families faced a new and gut-wrenching reality: ‘No wage – no food – no existence’.  

Our long-time partners in India, Saahassee, were one of the first we turned to when India’s crisis hit the headlines. With calls and emails from people wanting to help, we set up a fundraising page, and donors started giving generously.  

Using funds we raised, Saahassee began purchasing and distributing emergency aid packages. The descriptions they shared were heart-breaking. “As we started the distribution, we were pained to hear the struggles of their Covid journey,” they wrote. “It was a deluge of suffering. Almost every household recounted immeasurable sorrow and grief.” Over and again, people told them they couldn’t access oxygen saturation meters or masks for sick family members and they couldn’t afford ambulance transport or hospital fees. Loved ones were dying as a direct result. Trauma was rife through the community. “Children appeared stiff, scared, listless and lost,” said our partners. “Some children have lost both parents. It’s been a harrowing time.” 

For nearly a decade, these friends have served in a small pocket of a huge slum that houses 400,000 people. They run strategic programmes, empowering women to start businesses, working with children to help them stay in school, and more. It’s because of these years of relationship-building that now, amid fear of Covid and mistrust of other authorities, people trust these staff enough to let them help. 

The packages they brought were a literal lifeline. They were filled with essentials such as beans, lentils and oil, as well as school materials for children in lockdown. “The Covid-affected families have been so thankful for the relief provisions, as they take a deep sigh, knowing that they will not have to beg for their next meals,” wrote staff. “This assistance has eased every single home’s anxiety for survival.” 

Funds raised through Crossroads’ appeal helped 2,728 people with food packages and children’s home learning packs.  

While the pandemic created significant difficulties in shipping goods directly to India, we were able to match goods for India remotely through our Global Hand service for Covid relief: oxygen concentrators for hospitals and 150,000 face masks, offered by a medical manufacturer in China. We’re so grateful that donors like these, and the people who gave to our India appeal, allowed us to help, even when shipping goods ourselves was impossible. 

Milind’s story

“The chaos in our slum was frightening,” recalls Milind, aged 35. “We were left with no savings and we were struggling to afford a daily meal. Milind and his two nephews, whom he cares for, received emergency assistance through Crossroads’ relief appeal. The family are mourning his grandmother, who died of Covid-19 and the boys’ parents, who both died. “I and my family don’t know how to express how relieved we were to get the one-month ration supplies, which allowed us to not only grieve but to think in peace.” 

Asha’s story

29-year old Asha lives in the Pune slum where one of our partners works. “Our lives and financial situation were completely wrecked by Covid-19,” she said. When her husband fell ill with Covid, she raced from one hospital to another in a rickshaw, until finally with Saahassee’s help, they found a bed and he eventually recovered. It was a traumatic time for the whole family, and Asha was deeply grateful for her emergency pack of food and children’s activities as they were isolated at home. “I still cannot believe it,” she said. “It was a double provision for my family. Games and story books helped my children deal with their distress, sense of isolation, neglect and loneliness.” 


Want to do more?

Your gift can help us continue to serve those struggling through the pandemic, both in Hong Kong and globally. Click here to find out how to become a sustaining donor or give a one-off gift.

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Covid-19 has brought logistical challenges to our international shipments. With the help of our financial supporters, volunteers and goods donors, though, we’ve still been active in sending shipments of goods around the world through this difficult period.

In fact, many of our partners have said it’s been more valuable than ever to have Crossroads’ support this year. They’re see their communities struggle to keep their communities safe without proper resources, and people growing poorer from the economic fallout of the pandemic.

This year we’ve sent shipments to nations including Moldova, Cameroon, Syria, Liberia, Thailand, Sierra Leone, Benin, Ukraine and Malawi, and more. Read below for just a sample of the impact that goods sent in 2020 are already making!

Sierra Leone: Latex gloves from Crossroads’ shipment are helping in our partners’ Covid-19 prevention work, as they join the fight to keep their local communities safe.

Ukraine: Health clinics in a remote rural region received computers to modernise their patient management systems, as well as other goods to equip their facilities. Many clinics in this region are seriously under-resourced, making it difficult to adequately care for patients.

Guinea: Educational supplies from Crossroads are equipping literacy centres, where our partners train ‘peer educators’ to become literacy teachers in their own communities.

Thailand: Computers have helped set up an IT room for refugee children on the Thai-Burma border, where our partners are giving vulnerable children a quality education.

You can follow our ongoing schedule of international shipments at this link.

Want to sponsor a shipment?

We’re seeking sponsors for a number of international shipments. Every $100 you donate can ship $900 worth of quality goods to communities in need! Visit this page to donate, or email enquiries@crossroads.org.hk to hear more about shipments that need sponsors.

Want to help load a shipment?

We always need muscle to help load our shipments! Email volunteer@crossroads.org.hk to find out which upcoming shipments need your help to load.

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WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING? As the conflict continues in Ukraine, millions of refugees have been forced to cross the border into...

read more ...

Zambia: Community development and training

WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING? While Zambia is a nation of relative stability and positive growth, almost 80% of people in rural...

read more ...

Cameroon: Education in rural communities

WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING? In a country where more than a third of the population lives in absolute poverty, many people...

read more ...

Cameroon: Training and rebuilding

WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING? From modest beginnings providing educational opportunities for street kids and widows, our partners in Cameroon have grown...

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