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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When Covid-19 started to spread in Hong Kong, health and hygiene products flew off the shelves. It became impossible to buy the things that everyone needed most to stay safe. For those at the grassroots, particularly vulnerable elderly, it was extremely difficult to find these high-demand goods.

We were so grateful to have supplies in our warehouse of donated soap, hand-wash and healthy fruit juices. When NGO Manna asked Crossroads for help with these very goods to assemble packs for the elderly, they were very pleased to take a large supply. They immediately started distributing them to Kwun Tong elderly in need (pictured at right), as part of their Covid-19 support projects in February.

Through this challenging season, it’s an ongoing honour to keep teaming up with both goods donors and hardworking NGOs, helping each other walk with the most vulnerable in Hong Kong.

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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.

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What do you give the person who has everything?

Hong Konger Yi Li first visited our site as a secondary student, on an educational trip with her school. When she was working for the W Hotel, she thought of Crossroads again, organising a company team-building day volunteering with us. This year, when her birthday rolled around, Yi Li knew just what she wanted as a birthday gift from her friends: a day together, volunteering with us!

“Usually for a birthday celebration, you go out and spend a lot of money,” said Yi Li. “I just wanted to share something more meaningful with my friends. I asked for their time, instead of spending money on dinner or stuff that you don’t use.” Yi Li and eleven of her friends worked in different departments at Crossroads, putting their energy and perspiration into our electrical, computers and incoming goods departments. “It’s tiring and sweaty work,” said one friend, Claudia, “but it’s a good way to spend time together and doing something meaningful. I will come back if I can!”

It’s not every birthday girl who would opt out of presents in favour of giving back to people in need. Yi Li’s friends know she’s a pretty special person! “I have never seen anyone with a big heart like her!” said another friend, Beverly. “She’s someone who is always doing things differently and she makes sure there is meaning behind what she does,” commented another. We love champions like Yi Li, who don’t just put their own hand up to help, but spread the enthusiasm and passion for helping throughout their community. What a gift!

If you want to share the volunteering love, whether with families, friends, work colleagues or a community group, get in touch! We would love to help you bring a group to Crossroads for a day that changes lives. Email volunteer@crossroads.org.hk

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The offer was huge: 7,000 brand new toys, including dinosaurs and remote controlled dolls, all battery operated, from a well-known multinational toy company. It was a larger donation than we could immediately handle at our own warehouse, but we knew there might be Hong Kong NGOs in our Global Hand network who would jump at the offer. We started asking our local partners if they could use the toys for children in their programmes, and several put up their hands, including a project that runs school for sick children in hospital, mobile toy library for underprivileged areas, and a group working with children with special needs.

One little boy with special needs was particularly overjoyed with his new dinosaur. He told staff that he had been wanting a dinosaur toy for a long time, even asking for it last Christmas. “My wish has come true!” he shouted joyfully, clutching the toy for dear life.

The ripple effects of these toys are being felt beyond their young recipients. One of the NGOs who received toys runs an evening meal box programme for elderly in poverty, and some of the toys were given out to elderly for their families. Yuk Ching, who attends the programme, is an elderly grandma living on a shoestring budget. She spoke with tears in her eyes of what the gift meant to her and her family: “As a grandmother, I never give any gifts to my grandchildren,” she said. “I don’t know where the toy shops are, and I can’t afford it. This is the first time I’ve been able to give gifts to my grandson and granddaughter!”

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Instead of entering the corporate world, Myron has chosen to work for people in poverty.

We first met Myron in 2014 when he came to work with us, as an intern in our Incoming Department: a task, he says, that helped prepare him for his current role.

Myron went on to work with FOOD-CO: a service which sees Hong Kong’s excess food and other commodities reach people in need.

Myron at his current job with St James Settlement FOOD-CO

 

FOOD-CO says that Hong Kong sees 3,600 tonnes of food wasted every day. In his job, Myron helps get excess food to organisations who give it to the elderly, children at risk, people with disabilities and others in financial need.

We in Crossroads also regularly use FOOD-CO’s services as we accept goods to help feed people in need and support our own volunteers, a serious cost saver! We are cheering Myron on in his life choice! (see main image below of Myron with other interns at Crossroads in 2014)

From July 2017 to June 2018, we welcomed 99 student interns, each on his or her own life path. It is our privilege to be a part of their story as they seek to make choices that can impact a world in need. 
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We often speak of our experiential programme that simulate issues such as the complexity of poverty. Read these words from a participant this year:

“Seventy of us enter a large room. We sit on a concrete floor, empty aside from rusty corrugated iron wall paneling and a few makeshift shops…The next hour is a haze of noise, rejection, begging, and work that fails to meet the minimum targets. We start with intent and vigour but the desperation grows each moment. We start to offer our possessions and confront our own values and integrity in the quest for survival. And I feel like I’m in a washing machine struggling for breath. I cannot think of tomorrow when today looks hopeless and urgent. I’ll work all day. All night. But the challenge to survive is overwhelming. And this is day one.”

The person writing that was part of NGO, Global Development Group. This participant, as the others, already knew poverty well. GDG is an association that brings together people dedicated to alleviating suffering.  Even so, the simulation proved powerful. We often hear practitioners say that, while they work amid poverty, the simulation of it still brings the reality home in new ways.

GDG held its International Development Partner Conference in Hong Kong this year and chose to include our Struggle for Survival simulation. Its participants, largely from developing nations, found it a time of perspective-shift, and reaffirmation of their organisations’ goals.

 

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“I still vividly remember the beginning of the simulation… a group of ‘militants’ broke in, forcing us out of safety. At that moment I realised what I had signed up for. Frankly, it was terrifying.”

Gingin Mak, a secondary student, undertook our simulation of the refugee crisis and, afterwards, told us how she found it. “Throughout the entire experience, the only thought I had in my head was: How are millions of people surviving through this living hell?”

Gingin was impacted so deeply by the ‘Refugee Run’ that she decided to channel her experience into a theatrical script. She called it, poignantly, ‘Home’. It tells of a young girl, Ola, who leaves her family in search of safety. “The plot reveals the raw pain of sacrifice,” says Gingin; “of restarting life and the loss that refugees face in the process.”

 Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation (YAF)

Undertaking the Refugee Run at Crossroads helped Gingin access the emotion and empathy with which she infused her play. “The authenticity of the simulation played a key role,” she says. “It allowed me to enrich my writing with personal experiences.”

‘Home’ was performed by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation, in December 2017: an extraordinary achievement for Gingin. Her classmates from Renaissance College were likewise moved to help and focussed on producing educational packs for us to use in our refugee work. We are deeply impressed by the difference students can make when they care about world issues. Gingin and her colleagues are proof positive.

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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).

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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