While Israel is a developed nation, with high literacy, the gap between rich and poor is significant. The region’s most vulnerable, such as those with disabilities, single-parent families, new immigrants and people injured through terrorism and conflict are often living below the poverty line and struggling to afford the basics of life.

Covid-19 has created even more challenges for those already in poverty in Israel, increasing unemployment and decimating small businesses and day labour jobs that rely on tourism.

Our partners in Israel are acutely aware of the needs around them, and for more than 16 years, they have been supplying humanitarian aid stations all over Israel with needed goods. The projects they serve include new immigrants, the homeless, unemployed people, children’s welfare villages, Holocaust Survivor centres, facilities for the disabled and other institutions.

Crossroads is well-placed to ship containers of valuable aid goods to our partners in Israel, where their channels of distribution are efficient and effective, bringing much-needed relief to thousands each year. They have requested Crossroads’ help with goods like clothing, bedding, toys and household goods for their centres.


During recent lockdown in Israel due to Covid-19, Crossroads’ partners brought containers of much-needed aid to projects serving people who were already poor, and now struggling further.

One centre in Nazareth who received essentials like furniture, clothing, shoes and bedding, said, “I can’t even express how happy they were, how they hugged these shoes, how it’s very important to them. Some have never received a gift like this in all their life, because it’s very expensive. One guy wanted to kiss the shoes, to put them under his pillow.”

The words show how much it means to those in need to know that there are others who care enough to help.

This shipment will include goods that can bring hope and relief to those living without basic necessities.


Helping new immigrants battling poverty

Omida, a single mother from Uzbekistan, moved to Israel hoping to escape the poverty she had known all her life, but when she resettled, she found it very difficult to move beyond that poverty. Our partners have helped her with clothing, baby goods and other things to relieve some of the burden on Omida as she seeks to create a better life for her little one. This shipment will include goods to help provide relief and support for single parent families and immigrants like Omida, while they establish a new home.

 


Vulnerable groups like holocaust survivors, elderly, those with disabilities and new immigrant all appreciate the relief that donations of material goods through our partners’ network of centres can bring.

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Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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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.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Trying to do school online can be an uphill battle for children from low-income families, like Jiahui, who’s just starting Form 6 in Hong Kong. Jiahui’s family income is just enough to cover rent and essentials. It’s simply not enough to stretch to buying a new computer for Jiahui to learn from home. In a Mingpao article featuring Crossroads, Jiahui said that during the Covid-19 school closures, she struggled to manage online classes using just her small mobile phone screen,  until she received her own donated computer. Now, she says, studying is five times more effective than it was before.

Across the city, thousands of grassroots Hong Kong students are at an instant disadvantage when schools close and lessons go online. Together with our partners, we’re helping close that gap for students like Jiahui. With significant support from partners like the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and Microsoft, as well as companies who both donated computers and volunteered to process them, Crossroads’ computer team has prepared and given out more than 600 computers to Hong Kong students in need throughout the Covid-19 school closures.

Hang Seng Bank, who also donated computers for the campaign (picture above), sent volunteers from their company to help process and format the donated computers for students.

We’re hugely grateful to volunteer services Hands On Hong Kong, Easyvolunteer.hk and Social Career, who were all strategic in helping source individual and corporate volunteers from organisations like Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (pictured above), fast-tracking the process.

Want to help Hong Kong students in need?

If you or your company has computers to donate for students in need, we’d love to hear from you! Visit www.goodcity.hk to donate or email enquiries@crossroads.org.hk to discuss.

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WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING?

“Poverty has spared no one,” writes Crossroads’ partners. In their work with rural communities, they see daily the real face of poverty. “94% of rural women and young farmers here spend time in poorly paid or unpaid work such as chores or supplementing men’s paid work with free labour, drawing water or carrying sand for construction,” they say. It impacts infrastructure like health clinics too. “Village clinics which service pregnant women and children under 5 in remote areas have inadequate facilities or none at all. With high unemployment, youth are vulnerable to exploitation, theft, substance abuse and prostitution, which continues the spread of HIV.”

All these are patterns that keep people poor and prevent communities from developing, but our partners are making a difference. Their projects focus on advocacy, education, counselling and business training. As well as supporting health, micro-enterprise and education, they teach women public speaking and negotiation skills that help them fight for their own human rights and access services they didn’t know they deserved. Likewise, their farming projects teach people more advanced agricultural methods that can yield more than twice the amount of food, and make them more resilient to droughts or sudden economic changes.

We are pleased to be sending a shipment of goods to support our partners’ projects across the board. As well as being distributed to needy families, schools and clinics, the goods will update and expand their facilities, which they say will allow them to employ more people and reach even more in the community with their development programmes, which have already impacted more than 200,000 people.


Women meet in our partners’ support groups to learn about money, business, health and their own human rights, increasing their ability to advocate for themselves and their children to break out of poverty.

Sendeza’s story
From age 17 when she had her first baby, bearing children was all Sendeza knew. She birthed 11 children in total, of which 4 died. “My body was not healthy and neither were my children,” says Sendeza. She was dependent on food aid from a nearby clinic, and her children were malnourished, but she had no time to seek advice or work that could have made her more independent. Thankfully, our partners met Sendeza and counselled her in things like family planning, home hygiene and generating income for the whole family. Today, she trains other women in need of similar support, and she loves that she can be part of their empowerment.


Most rural clinics for pregnant women and young children are desperately under-resourced. Our partners run roaming health programmes where women and babies can access health information and treatment, as well as education on raising healthy children.

Esitele’s story
Esitele remembers the day her husband left. She thought when he told her they were separating, that it was a joke, until the next morning he was gone, leaving her with twin 3-year-olds. “Life became tough,” says Estile, “and then tears could not change anything, so I decided to stop crying and stand up for my children.” She joined the village savings loan group, a scheme initiated by Crossroads’ partners, hoping it would help her save some money and to be able to borrow money when she needed it. “Things worked as I wanted,” she said. “I borrowed money and invested it in farming potatoes and groundnuts.” She used her farming profits to buy building materials and build a beautiful, strong, brick home for her and her twins, and to buy farm animals. “I am so happy, though I know I still have a long way to go,” says Estile. She is hugely grateful to our partners for their support and counselling, helping her and other women like her to be financially secure. This shipment will include goods to boost our partners’ women’s empowerment projects.

he told her they were separating, that it was a joke, until the next morning he was gone, leaving her with twin 3-year-olds. “Life became tough,” says Estile, “and then tears could not change anything, so I decided to stop crying and stand up for my children.” She joined the village savings loan group, a scheme initiated by Crossroads’ partners, hoping it would help her save some money and to be able to borrow money when she needed it. “Things worked as I wanted,” she said. “I borrowed money and invested it in farming potatoes and groundnuts.” She used her farming profits to buy building materials and build a beautiful, strong, brick home for her and her twins, and to buy farm animals. “I am so happy, though I know I still have a long way to go,” says Estile. She is hugely grateful to our partners for their support and counselling, helping her and other women like her to be financially secure. This shipment will include goods to boost our partners’ women’s empowerment projects.


(S5234)

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Malawi snapshot

Population: 18 million
Capital: Lilongwe
Language: English, Chichewa

Landlocked Malawi is sometimes called the ‘warm heart of Africa’, for its culture of hospitality, however, the nation ranks among the world’s least developed countries. The country’s economic performance has historically been constrained complex factors including poor infrastructure, high population growth, and poor health and education outcomes that limit labor productivity.

The economy is predominately agricultural with about 80% of the population living in rural areas

Source:BBC Country Profile/CIA World Factbook

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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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Mr Gande, at 76, could be the face of grassroots poverty in Malawi. He’s a farmer who has always survived day to day by growing his own food. After suffering a back injury, though, it became more and more difficult to live off his land.

“He has to crawl to get around,” said Thandiwe Moyo, one of our staff, who visited him in his humble home: one where he sleeps on a hard bench, his chickens in the next room.

Being disabled in this way means Mr Gande now relies mostly on the kindness of neighbours. Malawi likes to call itself ‘The warm heart of Africa’, and, certainly, his neighbours, in their provision of food and other care for him, demonstrated that. Even with their support, though, his life remains tough, uncomplaining as he is.

His quiet life is one example of those at the grassroots who benefitted from a shipment we sent to Malawi this year. Mr Gande received items which, unremarkable enough in themselves, were life-changing nonetheless. A thick, soft mattress, for example, now protects his injured back and he now has much needed clothing which was beyond his normal financial reach (picture below).


Our shipment to Malawi saw items distributed, at the grassroots, to hundreds more individuals like Mr Gande. At an institutional level, moreover, it helped equip a medical clinic and a school, both offering services to the poorest of the poor in the region.

 

Before our hospital beds and mattresses arrived at this health centre, staff told us it grieved them to see patients arrive when the centre was full, knowing they could only offer them a sheet spread on the floor as their ‘bed’. Our shipment helped build capacity for this centre.

 

Village children, though bright and ready to learn (above pic), can find it hard to focus on learning while sitting on the floor, with nowhere to write. Our shipment included school desks and chairs (below pic) that will make learning easier at this school for both students and their teachers.

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We deliberately photographed these men from behind. We wanted to be sure we didn’t show their faces. Mr Kwan (name changed), like many in need within Hong Kong, was very glad to receive what he needed, but that joy was tinged with feelings of shame about the circumstance which had left him in dire straits.

His story told of one low point after another. Serious depression had combined with long term insomnia to lead Mr Kwan to start abusing sleeping pills to get through each night. His marriage broke down. He moved away from his wife and young son. He then lost his job. Living on his own, on government assistance to survive, Mr Kwan hit rock bottom. “In 2013, I suddenly realised that my life couldn’t go on like this,” he said. “My son is not young any more. I don’t want to miss any more moments of his growth. I’ve given him so little. I want to compensate for what I did in the past.”

On his slow climb back to health and better relationships, Mr Kwan was hit again, this time with heart problems that led to two heart surgeries. When we saw him at our site, he had recently undergone the surgery, saying his doctor had advised him to move slowly, avoiding rapid movements while he heals.

The younger man assisting Mr Kwan on our site, in this photograph, was his son, now a teenager. The father had finally been granted access with his son, and he was desperate to bond, and make up for lost time. Mr Kwan’s previous apartment was too small to have his son stay overnight. With joy, he told us he’d been granted a larger apartment, but didn’t have the needed furniture. “I really want to take this single sofa bed,” he told our staff. “It will mean my son can stay with me and sleep on it from time to time.” He had hoped that coming together to our warehouse would be a bonding moment in itself as his son selected furniture he would use, the sofa bed pictured in particular.

“I want him to join me in the process of creating this new home,” he said.

The sofa bed chosen by Mr Kwan’s son: a symbol of a new beginning

The road ahead is still long for Mr Kwan and his son, as they get to know each other once more. We were grateful to be able to find him a sofa bed, TV cabinet, wardrobe, and more. His story was an insight for us into the complex challenges and different kinds of pain that may be carried in through our gates with each person in need of help. For so many, their troubles compile one upon another until they must reach out for help, and it’s at that point that we’re privileged to respond with love and compassion.

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History says that the most recent war in DR Congo ended in 2003, but those on the ground live with a different reality, especially the ones in the nation’s East. Here, there are still pockets of brutal violence, where families are fleeing their homes at a moment’s notice, loved ones are slaughtered and rape is wielded as a weapon of war.

Pendeze, a young Congolese woman, lives in one of these communities. She can speak to the ongoing conflict from bitter, firsthand experience. When she was a teenager, Pendeze and her family were forced from their home during an attack. They tried to hide in the bush, but soldiers found the family and killed Pendeze’s mother and father in front of her. It left a deep, open scar on Pendeze’s young heart and she longed for revenge. She joined a rebel group and fought as a soldier while still in her teens, until finally, she had the opportunity to return home.  As with so many child soldiers, though, she found ‘home’ no longer existed. The warm faces of family and the close community she had known had been destroyed. She had to rebuild life from scratch. In this, she was helped by one of our partners, on the ground.

Despite the odds, this group has developed several strategic arms of support. They have created a refuge which our shipment helped furnish. In this haven, people can meet, finding healing after their years, even decades of trauma, including the sexual abuse which so typically marks these conflicts.

Our shipment also helped equip a medical centre. Hospital beds we sent are being used for new mothers and are, they told us, “so beautiful that the health centre manager felt obliged to repaint the room to fit with the beds”! Even the provision of something as simple as refrigeration played a role.  Prior to this, it was hard for them to get blood for transfusions, but “with a fridge, the blood is now made available and the community so much helped”. That refrigeration also permits then to store medicine which needs temperature control.

Tools in the shipment created jobs for 50 youth, now able to find work as painters.  In a war zone, a reliable job, even a basic one, helps anchor lives.

Books in our shipment filled the community’s first library since the start of the most recent conflict.

Finally, fabric and sewing machines from Crossroads have helped train people in valuable tailoring skills. Pendeze, the young woman whose life was devastated by her suffering, is herself one of the tailoring school’s success stories. She now runs her own business, and owns two sewing machines. She’s a walking example of hope, and how a shattered life can be healed and begin again.

Our partners are seeing many, many more follow in her footsteps, following the arrival of our shipment. They estimate that the goods we were privileged to send have impacted more than 4,000 people directly, and more than 10,000 indirectly.

 

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Feedback Story

Read how this shipment impacted the people in Iraq:

READ THE STORY

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Meet Josiah. He’s a Hong Kong citizen, but not one of those who works in a smart suit beneath the glittering lights of our designer malls and high streets. Josiah has lived at the other end of the spectrum. He moved out of home when he was young, and fell in with a bad crowd, soon becoming a drug addict. Without a decent job, and having to feed his addiction, he could only afford to live in the most basic accommodation possible. Poverty, coupled with one of the highest population densities in the world has led to tiny spaces being made available: beds for rent with sliding, lockable doors, in cramped, shared rooms. They are known, sadly, as cage homes or even ‘coffin’ homes as they are not much bigger than the bed itself. Josiah paid just HK$2,000 a month.

For years, he lived in this ‘coffin’ home, desperate to break out of this lifestyle, but not knowing how. “When you’re in a coffin house, you can’t change,” he told our staff. “We always quarrel there. People just shout, there is no order. No relationship with neighbours.”

It was a turning point in Josiah’s life when Hong Kong NGO Impact HK reached out to him. The group has a focus on helping Hong Kong’s homeless, giving them counselling, goods to meet their basic needs, and helping them find a place to live. They helped Josiah find an apartment that he can call home. It’s just 70 square feet in size, but already Josiah feels a weight off his shoulders, and a new optimism for the future. He can talk freely and peacefully with his new neighbours, he has more privacy and a cleaner (bug-free!) environment.

Crossroads became part of Josiah’s new journey when we helped Impact HK work with Josiah to find furniture for his small flat (he’s pictured below at our site with our staff and his social worker). When some of our staff paid him a visit at his new home, he said, “I like my new bed and chairs! I am thankful to Crossroads.”

What’s most remarkable to us is seeing how these acts of kindness have profoundly affected him. They’ve moved him to ‘pay it forward’. The experience has given him a heart to give back, grateful for how he’s been helped by others. “If you need me to come and volunteer, just call me!” he said.


Want to help change lives like Josiah’s? We’re raising $4 million to help us continue serving grassroots families in Hong Kong and overseas. Your donation, however small, can help us reach our goal. Click here to give.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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