IMG_5578It will come as no surprise that Vietnam’s rural villages see many trapped in poverty. What is a surprise, perhaps, in today’s world, is that this grip is much stronger on women than men. As a young girl, Huong took every step she could to change that story. The odds were not in her favour. Her father had died when she was little and her mother, dependent on seasonal earnings from their little family farm, needed to bring up five children alone. “All I can give you is education,” she told her children. “Study, study, study!”

Huong did. So did her five siblings. Three of them, all boys, received scholarships for medical school. Huong applied for a scholarship as well but was told ‘a girl from the village doesn’t need to go to college.’  She eyed her options. She knew girls from the village who had left to find their own way forward, only to fall into sex work in neighbouring Cambodia. She knew of others, too, who had ended up working in a dark, dusty lacquerware factory: places where workers are often in poor health and where wages are so low that they provide no way to get ahead.

Huong’s choices were bleak until, miraculously, an organisation agreed to sponsor her tertiary education. She was on her way. She studied hard, graduated and then won an internship with a major company. She moved from strength to strength in the business world, never forgetting how it felt to be a small village girl with big dreams.

To that end, Huong has taken another step in her battle to see doors opened for other young women who are trapped as she was. She has found a niche business in papercrafts: specialising in the art of quilling greeting cards. She started with just 10 women employees, but has now grown to 300 staff, never straying from the goal of paying a fair wage to every employee. Her wages are 25% higher than the local rate, but she wants good working conditions for her employees. She also gives maternity leave and healthcare benefits and strictly limits working hours to avoid exploitation._J3A1716

In the five years since Huong started the business, 2,000 young employees have been trained, most of them women from rural provinces. “Of course, this is a business,” she says, “but the way I look at it, it’s not about the bottom line. It’s about how many jobs I can create for young women, to give them financial independence and a stable family.”

It was our joy to support Quilling Card this year when we chose them as the producer for our 2017 Christmas cards. They’ve done a beautiful, professional job, testament to a woman with great vision and great values.


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Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

HELPING LIGHT THE DARKNESS

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Investing in Post-war Communities

Women and children are particularly vulnerable, with so many men lost in the conflict.

S3938 Uganda project profile-5The devastating conflict in Northern Uganda officially ended a decade ago, but even though people have returned home, life is far from restored. Families are deeply traumatised from the war’s atrocities, and unemployment is high. Women and children are particularly vulnerable, with so many men lost in the conflict.
Crossroads’ partners are working in these recovering communities to see more children succeed in school, and more youth and women trained in income-generating skills. “Our children have not been able to excel in their studies simply because of lack of essentials like mathematical sets and other things,” they wrote. “The need for scholastic tools, materials like books, pens, pencils, and drawing and painting kits is enormous.” Their soap-making project has been a joyful success story. Vulnerable women and widows learn how to make soap, and are now selling around 100L each day. This brings income to the women, who can now feed their families and keep their children in school, and it lets the community buy quality soap made locally.

S3938 Uganda project profile-4
Crossroads is shipping school supplies and equipment, along with school desks and chairs, and goods for our partners’ other programmes: hospital beds, medical supplies, office furniture and clothes and shoes for the poorest families.

This woman (left), widowed and HIV positive, was given a small loan by our partners to start a cassava business, which is now allowing her to support her family.


S3938 Uganda project profile-2Rose (left) has been left doubly vulnerable to poverty: a widow, and HIV positive. In July 2010, Crossroads’ partners gave Rose a sewing machine along with training in tailoring. It was a wise investment, indeed! After starting a small business, Rose has been able to generate sufficient income to buy three more sewing machines. She has been encouraged to train two more people in tailoring every year, and she now employs six of these people. As a result, Rose is now living a self-reliant and successful life and the returns on this investment are multiplying throughout her community.


Crossroads’ shipment will include furniture and equipment to support the administration of programmes like the job-creation scheme that helped Rose, so far reaching 800 beneficiaries.


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Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Uganda Snapshot

Population: 37.58 million
Capital: Kampala

Uganda is a fertile, land-locked country in East Africa, in the Africa Great Lakes region, with a tropical climate.

Great progress has been made in fighting HIV in Uganda, but 1.5 million people still live with the disease, and there are 1 million children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

39% of girls are married by the age of 18. 37.7% of people in Uganda live below the international poverty line of US$1.25/day.

A6

IMG_0016In Northern Uganda, a small nursery school is a haven of peace and fun for little children who would otherwise be simply playing in the dirt. The villages in this war-torn area have suffered immeasurably over the years, and the people still battle with problems of HIV/AIDS and huge unemployment, but they are now trying to rebuild lives and livelihoods. Parents have hopes for their children beyond the subsistence farming they themselves have experienced. This nursery school received a shipment from Crossroads in 2008, receiving goods which transformed the lives of many children. They currently have 72 children attending.

 

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As the children have grown, the school is now ready to open a primary school, and have asked Crossroads for books, computers, school furniture and uniforms, plus the equipment necessary for a first aid room. They are also looking to start vocational skills training for older pupils, and have asked for tools, sewing machines and other items to help with this.

 

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We hope that with an injection of further goods from Crossroads, these children happily playing with toys provided in the last container will have a more secure future education and the route to a better life.

 

 

 


Shipment includes:

  •  Stationery, Computers, books, uniforms, school & office furniture to equip the new primary school
  •  Medical equipment for first aid, and items for vocational skills training.

 


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Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Give Now!

Donate to a shipment like this one.

DONATE MONEY

Donate Goods!

Want to donate goods for a shipment like this one?

DONATE GOODS

Uganda Snapshot

Population: 37.58 million
Capital: Kampala

Uganda is a fertile, land-locked country in East Africa, in the Africa Great Lakes region, with a tropical climate.

Great progress has been made in fighting HIV in Uganda, but 1.5 million people still live with the disease, and there are 1 million children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

39% of girls are married by the age of 18. 37.7% of people in Uganda live below the international poverty line of US$1.25/day.

 

A6

Job Creation and Training

S36881UN statistics indicate that up to 78% of Zambians in rural areas are living in poverty, as our consignee for this shipment can attest. When the large mining company in their town closed down, huge numbers of people lost their jobs and are now struggling to survive. Along with the loss of jobs came the demise of medical clinics and sports clubs and other social amenities also run by the mining company. Added to this is the HIV/AIDs problem, which has resulted in many orphaned children in this area. Our consignee aims to improve and change people’s lifestyles. Their programmes focus heavily on education and training to impart marketable skills and bring hope for the future. This is the third shipment to this organisation that has proved well able to use what we send.

 

4Brian (right) benefitted greatly from the computers which arrived in a container from Crossroads – he learnt up-to-date skills at the project’s computer school and was able to find work in a business centre. Then he was able to take part in a government election registration exercise, and with the money he was paid he started ‘B and D business centre’, employing four people!

 

Potential impact:

  • Computer training for at least another 50 young people.
  • A Sewing centre to train at least another 50 young people.
  • Clothing and essentials for 125 school children & wider families.
  • Children from remote areas able to attend school.

Shipment includes:

  • Computers & sewing machines for school and vocational training
  • A minibus for bussing children to school
  • School chairs, desks and equipment
  • Clothing and household goods for local communities.

 

This shipment will help their project to improve the lives of children in the area and give hope for the future.


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Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Zambia Snapshot

Population: 14.83 million
Capital: Lusaka
Zambia is a beautiful, landlocked country in Southern Africa, with a tropical climate.

74.5% of people in Zambia live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day.
40% of children are involved in some kind of child labour
1.1 million people are living with HIV.

A65

Lei Mei was 25 when she suddenly lost her hearing. It was a devastating blow. She knew that being deaf would mean the loss of her job as a salesperson.

Her future looked bleak. She did, indeed, lose her job and learned that the only way she could hear again would be a cochlear implant, costing her US$30,000. She had been earning approx. US$200 per month and paying all her costs out of that. This purchase, then, was impossible. She tried selling goods on the street at night but, with her hearing challenge, this was harder for her than others in the noisy marketplace and she struggled. With just two years’ schooling, she had nothing else to fall back on.

In time, she was introduced to ‘Hearts and Hands’, an organisation which had, amazingly, been set up in her area to employ people with hearing difficulties. They taught her how to make handicrafts and, today, she has done so well she is in charge of the stock and fabric rooms. When our Global Handicrafts team visited, they told us, “She said that normally, in her local community, deaf people are treated as second rate and very often cheated. Here, though, she is genuinely respected and valued and nobody cheats anyone. It is truly run on a Fair Trade basis. She loves this work.”


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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...

read more ...

7,000 brand new toys for Christmas

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

read more ...

Excelsior Hotel close equips HK social enterprise

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

read more ...

Helping equip Ukrainian maternity facility

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

read more ...

Dancing goats are, it would seem, responsible for the world’s love of coffee. According to legend, Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd from ancient times, found his goats very spirited on one occasion, seeming to ‘dance’ near a certain plant with little red berries. The latter turned out to be coffee beans and the rest is history.

Legend or not, with centuries of coffee history behind them, one would think Ethiopia’s coffee farmers should now be thriving. Until recently, though, farmers such as Mama Doree and Burtukan Zeleka received only a pittance for their long years of labour in the famed Sidmamo region. Many of life’s basics were beyond their families’ reach: clean water, adequate clothes, medical care, proper housing and education for their children.

IMG_2144Enter a Fair Trade cooperative. “Now we are getting great dividends!” Mama told members of a visiting Crossroads team. Both families, along with many others, now have those much-needed clothes, clean water, better housing and education for their kids.

As our team photographed Burtukan Zeleke, in front of a huge pile of coffee for export, she gave them a message to pass on. “This coffee,” she says, “is the best not only in Ethiopia but in the world. You should all buy and drink it!”

Happily, we in Hong Kong do! This cooperative is one of the suppliers whose coffee we sell in our Fair Trade Cafe. Come, join us and raise a cup to Fair Trade!


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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...

read more ...

7,000 brand new toys for Christmas

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

read more ...

Excelsior Hotel close equips HK social enterprise

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

read more ...

Helping equip Ukrainian maternity facility

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

read more ...