No one has space for excess goods in Hong Kong. So when people choose to donate them, they normally need to do so quickly.

Crossroads’ IT team has developed an app for web and mobile phone which targets this problem. Called GoodCity, it’s a way to offer goods in Hong Kong quickly and easily from your phone or computer. You upload an image of the goods and one of our ‘micro-volunteers’ quickly checks it and books a van to collect and deliver the goods to Crossroads.

“GoodCity has literally reduced our turnaround time tenfold,” said Matt Gow, Crossroads’ Director of Strategy and the brains behind GoodCity. “We can now approve and accept goods with GoodCity 90% faster than through traditional donation channels.”

Since its soft-launch in 2016, goods donated through GoodCity have been helping individuals and NGOs in need all over Hong Kong, from equipping a home for women and girls at risk, to helping a recipient with health problems, dependent on social welfare, with furniture he couldn’t afford to buy.

We’re excited to be offering Hong Kong this new way to help others, and we’re delighted that generous partners have caught the vision too! GoodCity has been honoured to receive grants for development from FIL Foundation, Operation Santa Claus and the HK Jockey Club, which have breathed the project into being, and funded its ongoing development.

Visit www.goodcity.hk to download the app now!

 


GOODCITY IN 2017

  • Value of goods donated through GoodCity: HK$2.08 million
  • Volume of goods saved from landfill through GoodCity: 21.5 tonnes
  • Beneficiaries: 400 Hong Kong charities and clients; 100 Social Welfare Department service centres
  • Average time from submitting offer to review by volunteers: 66 minutes
  • Number of micro-volunteers* reviewing and processing offers: 19

THE CHEN FAMILY: A GOOD CITY STORY

The Chen family has seen one heartbreak after another. In 2007, Mr Chen died, leaving his wife Chen battling chronic thyroid disease and mental illness. Her two adult daughters had their own struggles: the younger was in prison for drug offences, and the elder was unemployed and living with Mrs Chen. The two women were thankful when they were offered an Internal Housing Transfer flat from the Housing Department but they despaired as to how they could afford to furnish it with even the few things they needed. Mrs Chen booked an appointment with us.

In another part of Hong Kong, May was preparing to move, and had goods to give away. She didn’t want them to go to waste, so she turned to Crossroads’ Good City app to donate them. After uploading pictures, and a few words back and forth with our volunteers through the app, May had the goods delivered to Crossroads in mid-July 2016. One of the items in her donation was a Siemens washing machine, still in excellent condition.

When Mrs Chen came to Crossroads just three days later with a ‘wishlist’ of things needed for their new flat, a washing machine was on the list. It was May’s very machine that Mrs Chen took home, along with other goods from Crossroads like chairs, table, cabinets and a wardrobe. We contacted May to let her know her washing machine had found a home, and she was touched to know it was already helping. “My husband and I feel sad for this mother and her daughters,” she said. “I’m so glad to know that our humble donations could help a family in need.”


HOW IT WORKS:

 

 

 

*By the way, are you wondering what micro-volunteers are? These are people who do no volunteer on our premises, but help remotely with ‘micro’ availability for just this purpose.  Interested? We’d love to hear from you and can tell you more about remote volunteering opportunities.

 

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Hong Kong is one of the best prepared cities in the world to face the typhoons it regularly meets. For Hong Kong’s poor, though, it can be something to watch with trepidation, knowing that, for example, village housing can be vulnerable to flooding, collapse and irreparable damage.

When severe Typhoon Usagi hit Hong Kong, Mrs Wang and her family watched as it flooded their small villagestyle home in Hong Kong’s New Territories. Almost every piece of furniture was damaged. Caring for four children and dependent on welfare, Mrs Wang didn’t know how to make the family home liveable again. The Social Welfare Department referred her to Crossroads.

Mrs Wang seemed overwhelmed with the choices of goods available to her, donated from all over Hong Kong. She left with a dining table, six chairs, a double bed, wardrobe, two bookcases for her children and home appliances.

She was one of many who came through Crossroads’ gates, following the typhoon. We appreciate all who donate to assist with disaster recovery, equipping us to assist those across the world or across the street.

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The filthy waters swirled around their family home, as 10 year old Inamullah* stared in growing fear. They had now burst over the river bank and showed no signs of slowing down.

“Stay inside until the tide goes down”, his relatives had told him. But was the house safe? Already water was pouring into the ground floor and he ran to see if it was approaching the second. There was no doubt. Any moment now, they would need to move to the third floor and who knew how long even it would be safe?

The young boy needed wisdom beyond his own. While he could make a plan for himself and his older brother, a harder question was beyond his ability to solve. His mother, an old, diabetic woman, could not manage to climb those stairs in the face of the swirling waters. Inamullah sought help from his 12 year old brother who was not much bigger or stronger and, try as they might, proved too weak to carry their mother out.

For the two children, the risk of losing her was not only horrifying but hauntingly familiar. Only five years earlier, they had lost their father to the earthquake in Pakistan. Neither brother would forget the terrifying shudders of the earth that day, nor the sickening moment of realization that their dad would never come home again. Surely now they could not lose their mother as well?

Natural disasters are nondiscriminatory: they strike where they will and affect people regardless of social class or family life. In the end, the two could only gaze in abject horror as the relentless waters swept their mother away from their grasp and out of their lives. All that remained for them, in their shocked state, was to try to cheat death themselves.

Somewhere in the dark waters, Inamullah found a rubber tire and hung on to it with what little strength remained. It bobbed and ducked in the violent waters as he tried to avoid the floating debris they carried at terrifying speeds in their raging path. It was thirteen hours before rescue workers found him and took him to safety. There he was reunited with his brother and the two, now orphaned, later spoke of their battle.

“We can’t sleep at night” they said, in what we would probably call post trauma response. “We are still scared of the floods. And we are all alone now that our mother has gone. She was all we had.”

Inamullah’s mother was just one of the death toll following Pakistan’s devastating floods in 2010. The body count was close to 2,000, but that statistic hides the true human cost of the disaster. 20 million people in Pakistan were estimated to be affected. Even though most of these displaced people are now beginning to return home, each day after they returned held countless, perilous risks. There was a very serious lack of clean water, with many people forced to drink from dirty canals and other sources. There were reports of widespread cholera outbreaks, as well as dysentery and diarrhea. These illnesses can be fatal, especially for the 3.5 million children, many of whom were already malnourished due to a life of chronic poverty.

Schools were hit too. Children returned to find that, along with the rest of the buildings, their schools had been washed away. The UNHCR estimated that around 10,000 schools were destroyed by the flooding, as well as many that were rendered unusable because they were serving as temporary shelters for people who lost their homes.

After the disaster, Crossroads was immediately in consultation with people in Pakistan who were working with those affected. The kind of help they needed varied with each stage of the recovery process, but, for the load we initially sent, they asked us to gather hygiene kits, kitchen sets and school supplies. Many people in Hong Kong responded generously by donating funds and running collection drives to help the flood victims. The container was sent to Pakistan and the goods inside reached people rebuilding their lives in new homes and those living temporarily in camps and shelters.

*Name changed

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