WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING?

Sierra Leone has faced multiple tragedies in recent decades, and our partners on this shipment have been walking with those suffering, every step of the way. During the 11 years of war in Sierra Leone, they helped more than 600 displaced people with medical care, food, clothes and counselling. When entire villages were burnt, they helped rebuild homes. When Ebola devastated the nation in 2014, killing thousands, our partners supported impoverished families with food packs and nutritional care to help people stay as healthy as possible. Then, in 2017 when mudslides caused the deaths of 1,000 people and displaced 3,000, they were there yet again, with relief goods and educational support for children who had been evacuated (see story below).

As well as responding to disasters, these partners know that through education, training and job creation, communities become stronger and more resilient to future disasters. “People can’t afford their basic needs, like clothes or shoes. They eat whatever they raise for the day, with nothing in reserve,” they wrote. Their projects aim to move vulnerable communities from this subsistence lifestyle to a more sustainable one. They have four primary schools, a secondary school and a job skills training centre, as well as a computer school for underprivileged youth and a health clinic. They have asked for goods to equip all their projects, including computers, furniture, clothing and educational supplies and equipment.


Aminata’s story

Nearly 4,000 people died in Sierra Leone during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, leaving broken and traumatised families behind. Aminata’s was one of them. When both Aminata’s parents died of Ebola, it left her the head of her small household. Suddenly, she and her three siblings had nobody to care for them. They became homeless and dropped out of school, not knowing what the future might hold.

Our partners met Aminata and came alongside her. She wanted to get a job so that her brother and two sisters, at least, could return to school and finish their education. Staff helped Aminata start a small restaurant business where, over time, she has been so successful that she is not just supporting her own siblings, but is able to help other young girls who were once vulnerable like herself.

Aminata’s is just one of many stories  showing how these partners consistently look for the needs of individuals and groups in their community, and find solutions that lead to more sustainable futures.

We are pleased to be shipping goods to help in the administration of their outreach programmes intervening in the lives of more families like Aminata’s.


A new school for flood evacuees
In 2017, Sierra Leone made headlines when severe mudslides and flooding killed over 1,000 people and left 3,000 homeless. Our partners leapt into action, offering food and other immediate aid to people who had lost everything.

Then, as villagers began to move into new homes provided by the government, they saw that there was no school for children of evacuated families. They rallied support through their network, and successfully built a new school, now home to 250 students.

Goods from this shipment will help our partners respond quickly when disasters hit, with both immediate relief and longer term support.


Flooding, landslides, disease and conflict have all taken their toll on Sierra Leonean communities. Our partners are well-placed to give immediate help in times of disaster, but also run schools and training projects that are helping  equip children and young people to find more stable employment and build stronger communities.


Reference No : S5199
Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Sierra Leone snapshot

Population: 7.6 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 which destroyed much of the infrastructure and, more recently, struck by the Ebola outbreak causing another humanitarian crisis. 70% of youth are unemployed or underemployed.
Source: UNDP

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The village of Jalbire, Nepal, is full of survivors. When the massive earthquake of 2015 hit the country, 90% of Jalbire’s homes were destroyed, devastating this community of 1,500 people. Once the dust settled, they wanted to rebuild in a way that would withstand future disasters, but they lacked the knowledge and training to make that happen. Most, moreover, didn’t think it was possible to find materials for homes that wouldn’t crumble in an earthquake.  When our team visited the area two years after the earthquake, many people were still living in temporary shelters, with plastic sheeting.

We try, in any post disaster scenario, to stay involved well after the event, knowing the impact may last for years, even decades. So while, in the immediate aftermath, we had helped provide disaster kits, blankets, clothing and other urgent needs, we had retained some of our Nepal Fund for later rebuilding projects. One of our partners in Nepal, Institution for Suitable Actions for Posterity (ISAP), told us of plans for masons’ training in Jalbire. That seemed a perfect use of our funds.

ISAP used the funding to train 33 young people in earthquake resistant construction. Graduates were given tools and they immediately began rebuilding both their own homes and others’: proof positive that local materials, used correctly, could let them build back better. And, as well as impacting the area, these individuals now have a lifelong skill-set that will help them generate income. So it’s a win-win, as the saying has it, with everybody benefitting.

Funding from Crossroads’ donors helped 33 masons graduate with new, employable skills in earthquake-resistant construction, as well as a set of masonry tools to help them get started.

 

Best of all, if Nature has her way again in the future, she will have a much harder time destroying these newly constructed buildings.

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Esther, of Hong Kong, wasn’t born blind. She was three years old when an episode of measles took most of her sight, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that glaucoma claimed the rest.

“At the beginning, I couldn’t accept that this happened to me. I was scared. I didn’t dare go out,” Esther says, “but then I realised that if I stayed home for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t help.”

Upon receiving the bitter news ten years ago, Esther decided to undergo skills training. Today, Esther is one of four guides we employ to run our Blind X-perience. She leads thousands of business people , students and others from the community. When they first step into the darkness, people feel afraid,” she says. “But they tell me, as soon as they hear my voice, they feel comfortable and safe.”

Esther is painfully aware of the employment challenges facing people with visual impairment. “I know many blind people who can’t find a job,” she says, “even if they are university trained.” Having this part time job in the Blind X-perience is more than just welcome extra income, though. Esther loves letting visitors ‘x-perience’ the challenges of visual impairment, and the empathy that comes from stepping into those shoes for just 45 minutes.

“People tell me after this experience that now they understand blind people a lot better,” Esther says.

She also gives participants a glimpse of what life is like for the visually impaired in poorer parts of the world. For blind people in a Nigerian village, upon which the Blind X-perience is based, there is no such thing as special schools for the blind, talking computers, braille books or even proper canes.

Esther’s outer eyes may no longer work, but her insight is profound. We are deeply grateful for this talented, dedicated woman and her fellow Blind X-perience guides. She does a brilliant job opening the eyes of those of us who already thought we could see.

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Mikono Refugee Crafts is based in Kenya.

All Mikono handicrafts are made by refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Uganda and Mozambique. Most of these refugees are slum dwellers with the desire and the need to earn a living. Their status does not allow them to find jobs easily but through Mikono they are given the opportunity to use the skills acquired from their home country to make handicrafts that are sold to help support them and their families. Thank you for changing the lives of African refugees through your purchase of a Mikono product!

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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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.

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The deaf population of China numbers around 72 million.  Since the majority of deaf young people are unable to find adequate employment, many turn to gangs, theft, and drugs. In an effort to curb this growing trend, Hearts & Hands offers employment to deaf people in the handicrafts business. All the workers are disabled or deaf, and they are each able to learn useful skills while working in a friendly, encouraging environment. Thank you for offering your support to these people and giving them the hope they need!

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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China Snapshot

Population: 1.35 billion

Capital: Beijing

Population below international poverty line of US$1.25 per day: 11%, or 157 million people

China is experiencing rapid economic growth, but the benefits have not reached millions of people in rural areas. People who are already poor are the most vulnerable to death, injury and loss of livelihood when floods and earthquakes hit.

Natural disasters in China affect more than 200 million people every year.

China_S1359U_6

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Freeset, an organisation based in the heart of Calcutta’s red light district, offers employment to women who want to escape prostitution. For the approximately 10,000 sex workers in this area, “poverty has left them without options. The cries of their hungry children drive them to sell their bodies,” says Freeset. Working with Freeset can provide some of these women with an alternative life – a life of freedom.

Handmade in India from eco-friendly jute, all stylized with some Indian charm, our Freeset products turn heads as well as helping set women and their families improve their lives.

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When Rwanda suffered its inimitable ethnic fighting, the result was not simply war. It was genocide. In 100 days, the country saw 500,000 people killed. Bertrand Russel called it, “The most horrible and systematic human massacre we have had occasion to witness since the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis.”

The images of death from that period are searing. So is the legacy the country continues to battle as it tries to reconstruct, train its youth and equip them for a different future. The population averages US$1.57 per day. Good employment, and the training that enables it, are therefore critical.

A simple gift of tools can help. There are training centres in the country helping young people master employable skills. The equipment they need, however, may be beyond their reach.

Knowing the depth of need in many communities, Ian Wells (pictured), one of Crossroads’ long term community volunteers, offered a huge set of tools on Global Hand, our match-making website. They were snapped up by a Rwandan carpentry centre.

Tools - Ian

With drills, saws, vices, chisels, hammers, screwdrivers and more – a treasure trove for this impoverished area – the donation was collected from the UK and shipped to Rwanda.

“Rwanda is clinically dead as a nation,” said Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, at the time of the genocide.  As better quality employment opportunities open up, this country is, increasingly, able to give the next generation a greater chance at life.

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