A radio: modern but based on a retro design. It didn’t look like much, sitting on a shelf in our warehouse, but to Rose, it was a lifeline.

Rose is shy and softly-spoken, a middle-aged woman living alone in a small Hong Kong apartment. When she came to us to receive goods, she told staff that her days are long and lonely. For many years, Rose has suffered from severe depression. The medication she takes can make her feel confused and easily lost. It’s meant that holding down a job, and even leaving home, is very difficult, so she relies on a limited social welfare allowance to survive. When her refrigerator broke down in the height of summer, it was a challenge. But, in her case, the broken radio was even more devastating. She told us that the radio keeps her company at home, when preparing food in the kitchen, or in bed at night. While it’s hard for Rose to go out into the world and be part of the community, listening to the radio helps her feel connected.

Rose reached out to her social worker for help, who referred her to us. When she came to our site this month then, her wish-list was short: a radio and a fridge. Our staff helped her choose a fridge, and found the radio pictured above. “You might look at something like this and think, it’s a bit old-fashioned,” said Jack, one of our HK distribution staff remembering the radio, “but it really impacted her life. Every item on our shelves is special.”

Daily, Hong Kong people receive goods in our warehouse, whether a major order, or something small but surprisingly strategic, like Rose’s request. Many are battling mental illness, others have physical disabilities or a fighting other battles, like family breakdown, recent release from prison, unemployment, and more. It’s easy to miss the importance that humble items can have in others’ lives. If you have excess goods, please pause, before throwing them out, to ask if we can use them for the countless ‘Rose’s who come through our gates each day.

Click here to find out more about donating goods to Crossroads.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Lush, the handmade soap company, always furnishes its shops in ways that are a feast for the eyes. So imagine our delight when, just when we needed to furnish our new Hong Kong Distribution Centre, they happened to be refurbishing and offered us their exquisite, superseded items.

It was amazing. Our goal had been to create a space which Hong Kong people would find not only helpful but even beautiful: a place that felt rather like a nice boutique, although, of course, they would pay us no money when ‘shopping’ in it. This shelving was perfect, except for one factor. Our space was quite large and there wasn’t quite enough shelving to fill it. It seemed a pity. We had stored this furniture for three months, knowing how helpful it would be in this project, but we definitely didn’t have enough. Our team met on it and suggested other shelving to supplement, but it was not a great match. The following day, to our astonishment, an email came in. “Lush is renovating another store and is offering more shelving. Might Crossroads be interested?”  We jumped onto email with an astonished yes. The timing, the quality, the need met: everything about this was a perfect match. Now this space is open, serving Hong Kong people in need with, we hope, the sense that they are being cared for with dignity and respect (see image below).

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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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The seven single mothers were waiting in a social service centre in Shatin when Crossroads staff visited to follow up on the furniture and electrical appliances they had received from our warehouse. Living on social welfare benefits, and with children to care for, these seven women don’t have an easy life, but when we met them, they were laughing and smiling, and eager to talk.

They spoke of how they have banded together, over the past eight years, to support one another, share with each other and encourage each other. Middle aged, with varied levels of education and training, some of them have found it difficult to find part time jobs that would allow them to earn enough to support their families without assistance, so they rely on social welfare payments to survive.

Instead of staying at home, though, and dwelling on their difficulties, the women decided they wanted to look outwards, at what they could do for the community. They regularly support a group of blind people, who live in even more difficult circumstances than themselves, and take them on outings giving friendship and support and helping how they can.

It was a joy to be able to support these women, who have such huge hearts for those around them, with some of the goods they needed for their own homes: computers, rice cookers, microwaves, towels, clothes and more. One woman was excited to now own a reading light, being able to read books in the evening without disturbing the family.  Others were happy to receive a microwave, so they can prepare food quickly and save time to work or to take care of their children.

We’re inspired to see people in such difficult circumstances turn to support each other and their neighbours in need, even with what little they have.  “Truly, these wonderful women in Shatin deserve praise,” said a Crossroads staff member who met them. “Thank you, ladies, for being seven silent heroes who are helping a world in need!”

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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It is almost ten on a quiet Wednesday morning in the children’s playroom at a non-profit Shatin play centre. Fifty parents are gathered, waiting in a circle, holding their children closely to their sides. A moment later their leader Esther steps inside the circle, and begins a magical, joyful couple of hours for both children and their parents. The children are from grassroots families in the surrounding community, but the  toys and equipment dotted around the room traveled just a little further: they were chosen for the playgroup from Crossroads’ own warehouse in Tuen Mun.

Three times a week, Esther leads a playtime that children and their parents can attend together.  It’s an environment far removed from the strict structure and expectations faced by so many children in Hong Kong kindergartens and preschools. This playgroup’s vision is different, and Esther explains what makes it so special. “In Hong Kong, parents are crazy to get an opportunity to play with their children. In our playroom we provide space for them to have ‘messy play’ together and we also teach them parenting skills.” It was a joy for Crossroads to provide much of the play equipment and supplies that the playgroup uses to help local families.

For Esther, raised in Hong Kong herself, unlearning some of her own traditional ways of raising and teaching kids was significant. “My eyes were opened when I attended a conference where I heard about all the benefits for children to be able to play, get dirty and be stimulated to be creative, independent and responsible for themselves.”

Charles is one of the smiling parents enjoying today’s play session. With his wife, they visit regularly to have some quality time with their son Morris. Smiling from ear to ear, it’s obvious that it’s not just Morris who’s having a great time. “I think this place is great,” Charles says. “We live in Tai Wai in a standard apartment. For Morris unfortunately there is very little room to play. When he was a baby that wasn’t a problem, but now he’s started to walk and really needs more space. It’s great he can come here to play and to make new friends. Every time he comes here he gets a great smile on his face and gets really excited. Unfortunately I never had a chance to play like this as a child. It’s great he is having it here.”

In a city where space is at a premium, it’s a joy to help create a space where children can be children!

 

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

HELPING LIGHT THE DARKNESS

The BBC calls if ‘the worst refugee camp on earth’. A camp on the far-flung island of Lesvos, Greece, seen by...

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The quantity was astonishing: 7,000 brand new toys, donated through our Global Hand service by a leading toy manufacturer. NGOs across...

read more ...

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It was the end of an era when Hong Kong’s beloved Excelsior shut down in early 2019. As their doors closed,...

read more ...

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"Finally, the repair of our maternity hospital is finished," wrote our colleagues in the Ukraine. "Your beds are in refurbished rooms...

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