WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING?

The civil war through the 1990s in Sierra Leone killed between 70,000 – 300,000 people. Today, for thousands of survivors, the trauma and lasting effects of this brutal war continue. Tens of thousands of people lost limbs in the conflict, whether intentionally cut off in violent attacks, or lost accidentally by landmines or gunshot wounds. Life for these amputees has been particularly difficult in Sierra Leone. They feel stigmatised, have often lost out on valuable years of education, and can be excluded from employment and social life because of their disabilities.

We’re shipping to an NGO that was founded by one of these amputees. Having lost his left arm in the war, he knows the uphill battle that people with disabilities are facing in his community. He saw that many amputees felt hopeless, and couldn’t find ways to support themselves beyond begging. So, he started an organisation that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities and offers training in the kinds of skills that empower people to start their own businesses and support themselves.

They now run training programmes in hairdressing, tailoring, metalwork, electrical repairs and weaving, and have seen their graduates move from a life begging on the street to one of self-sufficiency and dignity.

They have asked us for a shipment that will help them continue and expand their programmes. They especially hope, with our support, to open a new ICT centre that can train young people with disabilities in computer skills, as well as other exciting new projects.


Our partners teach employable skills like tailoring, hairdressing (left), electrical repairs and weaving to people who have lost limbs in the war, or have other disabilities.

A hand up, not a hand out

James knows the dignity that comes with having a secure job, and earning a sustainable income. James was left with a disability after contracting polio, and found it very difficult to find a job. After going through a tailoring course with our partners, he now earns an income making and selling clothes. “I used to wait for a handout from people,” he said. “I’m an independent man now and can contribute to society.”


Jestina’s story

Jestina was one of the thousands badly injured in Sierra Leone’s civil war. During the conflict, between 4,000 and 10,000 people lost arms, legs, hands, fingers, ears or feet hacked off by fighters. Thousands also suffered landmine or gunshot wounds, losing limbs.  In post-conflict Sierra Leone, it’s hard enough for able-bodied people to find a job. For those with a disability like Jestina, it can be impossible, and many turn to begging on the streets as their only means of survival.

Thankfully, Jestina found hope in our partners’ job training programmes for people with disabilities. She is now a fully trained dressmaker, and is earning an income to support herself and two children. It’s a huge relief to Jestina that she can make her own money without needing to beg. Her perspective on life has totally changed. “I never knew there was ‘ability’ in ‘disability’!” she says.

This shipment will include goods to support our partners’ training programmes, helping more like Jestina.


Advocacy for people with disabilities is an important part of our partners’ work in Sierra Leone. They empower those with disabilities to understand and stand up for their rights, as well as educating the community to accept and celebrate diversity. 

Reference No : S4352A

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Sierra Leone Snapshot

Population: 7.5 million
Capital: Freetown
Main languages: English (official), Mende, Temne, Krio

Sierra Leone is situated on the Atlantic coast in West Africa. It has a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests. The country is rich in resources but economically impoverished, with 60% living below the national poverty line. The country was devastated by a civil war through the 1990s, which killed between 70,000 – 300,000 people and left many thousands of people missing limbs, ears or fingers. Youth unemployment is very high.
Source: UNDP, World Bank

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Community development

Most of Cameroon’s poor live in rural areas. While poverty is slowly decreasing in the cities, people in villages and small towns are seeing an increase in poverty. The people hardest hit are those most vulnerable, like children with disabilities, widows, and unemployed youth who find it hard to get a job outside subsistence agriculture.

0unZ80wcD_g7yy6kjL5naS2CQeKu9kRkSvYBvZVFJDADSmkUkyYc9RrXD-Uh3NpKqpkN7rV7=w1246-h767Crossroads’ shipment went to a part of Cameroon that had an industrial boom around the 1960s, but that industry has moved on, and infrastructure is crumbling, warehouse buildings lying empty. Social services and faciltiies are very underresourced, and most people still rely on agriculture to survive. According to our partners who received the shipment, “abject poverty and destitution is the order of the day. Street children, orphans and vulnerable children abound.”

When everyone is so poor, even with family support, children with serious disabilities rarely have the chance to go to school. Yet one of the schools served by this shipment offers innovative schemes like testing for children with dyslexia, and special glasses that help them learn – a first in the region – and vegetable cultivation for pregnant women, to help prevent some of disabilities that can form in babies from malnutrition in the womb.

Crossroads’ shipment included medical goods, tools for vocational training, educational supplies, furniture and much more that are investing for the future of this challenged region.

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Tanzania Snapshot Cameroon Snapshot

Population: 22.25 million

Capital: Yaoundé

Cameroon is in the west Central Africa region, with natural features including beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas.

Although the country as a whole has improved standards of literacy and healthcare, there is still a long way to go. Less than half of children go on to secondary education, and over 40% are involved in some kind of child labour. In rural areas, less than half the population has access to clean water and sanitation.

Cameroon_S2893_5

Every gift can change a life. When Maclaren, maker of high end children’s strollers, gave Crossroads a massive donation, they reached needy families across the world. Some were included in shipments to places like Uganda, but most were given to help children right here in Hong Kong.

One stroller went to Chi Kin, a 3 year old with special needs that prevent him walking. His family’s limited budget has already been stretched with medical bills. So, for them to get him, a big boy, around busy Hong Kong, he needed the Rolls Royce of strollers, albeit on a Mini budget. The sight of the Maclaren gift, brand new and still in its packaging, left them open mouthed with amazement. It was perfect for his needs and, best of news, it cost them nothing.

2014-04-09_1220Another went to ‘Mi Li’, a widow, a mother of five who is completely blind. Living on a shoestring budget, Mei li could not afford the needed furniture for her home, much less a stroller for her baby. Though unable to see, she carried her baby around on her hip throughout the day, while trying to care for her other four children. When she heard a brand new stroller could be given, her hands stroked it in wonder. For her, too, this was a transformative gift.

We are grateful beyond words to partners like Maclaren, who are using their core strengths and resources to equip families in need.

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Education and job creation for people with special needs

The Philippines is home to some of the most beautiful places on earth. However, 26.5% of the population lives below the international poverty line, and life is particularly difficult for those with disabilities who are living in poverty.

Philippines

Living with special needs in the Philippines makes it difficult to find a job or access proper education. Government statistics indicate that 97% of people across the Philippines living with disabilities are not reached by the public school system. Our consignee in Manila is bringing change to the lives of children, young adults and adults with disabilities like autism. “Due to the high cost of medical, rehabilitation, and educational and vocational training services for youth with special needs, many families cannot afford to avail of quality intervention for them,” they write. Their programmes for developmentally disabled people include job-readiness courses (64 students), life skills and transition education (150 students) and community-based rehab and education (reaching 600).

Shipment includes:

  • School furniture for educational programmes
  • Toys and musical instruments for rehabilitation activities
  • Computers for clerical skills training
  • Household goods and furniture for training in hospitality skills and personal life skills like managing a bedroom or kitchen

A86Aingee (16) has autism. Our partner’s programmes help her learn to cope with normal activities that many of us take for granted. As well as structured learning experiences, Aingee learns to handle daily life routines and activities, from grocery shopping to trips to the dentists and swimming or going to the movies. This gives Aingee the opportunity to learn how to work with others in a safe, caring environment.

This shipment will help more than 150 people like Aingee take life skills training.


A45Louis’ parents were very worried when, at 14 years old, his special school closed its doors and he was left with nowhere that could cater for his special needs. Louis, who has autism and cannot talk, has attended special schools since he was 3 years old. Most of the schools his parents could find would only take young children, rather than teenagers or adults. They worried Louis would never learn the life skills he needed to be independent, or even hope to find a job. Thankfully, they discovered our partner’s school and now at 20 years old, Louis is thriving.

“My son has finally come home,” says his mother.

“He will stay here and develop to the utmost that he can ever be, as a special person.”

Crossroads shipment will help more people with disabilities like Louis reach their potential.

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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

It is a shocking truth, but 8 out of every 10 people with sight problems should be able to see. Visual impairment can be prevented or cured with the right resources made available. 9 out 10 live in low income countries or communities.

French retailer L’Occitane understands this. It has long felt a connection with those with sight problems. The company and their richly fragranced cosmetics and beauty products, so reliant on the senses of smell and touch, have adopted blindness as a particular focus for their social responsibility activities. Their founder, Olivier Baussan, wants to turn one of his old factories into a museum where he can teach blind children about careers working with aromas.

The company, worldwide, supports work against preventable blindness and its Hong Kong office therefore contacted us to book our Blind X-perience for their employees. Mo Tam, one of their staff, said of the x-perience, afterwards, “I felt dazed and confused. It was very scary to walk in the dark. I was afraid to fall. Fortunately, our guide leaded us all the way. I realized the importance of being helped and how we should always help people in need.”

Not only was Crossroads able to help L’Occitane, but L’Occitane graciously helped Crossroads too. The company raised over $5000 for our Blind X-perience. Having been open for some years, its complex equipment needed funding for renovation. Now, with L’Occitane’s help, it is open, year round, to serve its purpose: giving sighted people an x-perience of life for those who cannot see.

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