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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Ms Wan’s life fell apart when she injured her back at work. Suddenly, she was unable to work and confined to the house. She battled headaches, dizziness and, beneath it all, anxiety. Ms Wan didn’t understand the complex process of claiming compensation for her injury, so she gave up seeking help of that kind. Thankfully, a social worker was assigned to her case, one who is walking alongside her to get the help she needs. When Ms Wan was to move house from a small hut in the New Territories to an apartment, that social worker asked Crossroads for help with the furnishings.

Her story typifies what we love to do in Hong Kong: help individuals who, day by day, are struggling to make it when life is tough and personal resources limited.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Marcus and his mother Mrs Yang are a tiny family of two, and they face life’s challenges as a team. Marcus is in kindergarten, and was diagnosed with autism early enough for intervention to help. His mother has fought hard to get him help through government services, such as physiotherapy and speech therapy with Heep Hong Society. Mrs Yang was working as a beauty therapist, but the hours were long and she couldn’t give Marcus the attention and support he needed, so she stopped working and now devotes herself to his needs full time, relying on CSSA funding to cover their expenses.

The duo had been assigned a public housing flat, but, with their slim budget, they couldn’t afford to furnish it, so they turned to Crossroads for help. They took a range of furniture to equip their new home. It was in the detail, though, that we most fully saw this mother’s heart.  She had deep understanding of the touches that would make Marcus’ life easier. She quietly told our volunteers, for example, “He’s afraid of the dark, but there’s only a 20cm space beside his bed for a lamp.” Our team helped her find a light to fit, to help him feel secure at night. She told us Marcus has a special obsession with cars and was excited to get a toy car for him from our stock.

People say that a true test of justice is the way we treat the poorest and most vulnerable in our midst. We want to do all we can to contribute towards justice of that kind.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Mrs Lee came through our gates with just one item on her wishlist: a new stroller. Her little boy ‘Ricky’, aged 3, should be able to walk on his own, but he has a developmental delay. He can’t walk far, therefore, without assistance, and he also needs physiotherapy and speech therapy. Mrs Lee’s husband is the family breadwinner but he struggles with mental illness and has not been able to maintain a job. Managing these challenges is not a role for the faint of heart.

Mrs Lee soldiers on but, when the day came that saw Ricky’s stroller break, it felt like the final straw for her. She knew that a new stroller, big enough for her 3 year old, would run into hundreds of dollars and they just couldn’t afford it. Carrying Ricky to his therapy appointments, and on trips to the market, was exhausting her both mentally and physically. She turned to her social worker for help, who referred her to us. It was a joy to provide the tired family with a new, appropriately sized stroller that could relieve just a little of the pressure upon them.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Meet Josiah, a Hong Kong citizen living at the grassroots. 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: a bed for rent with sliding, lockable doors, in cramped, shared rooms. For this ‘room’, not much bigger than the bed itself, Josiah paid HK$2,000 a month. For years, he lived here, wanting 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 NGO ImpactHK 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, 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 better environment.

Crossroads became part of Josiah’s new journey when we helped him find a bed and chairs for his small flat. Some of our staff later paid him a visit at his new home and he told them how much he liked his new furniture and how grateful he was. What’s most remarkable to us, though, is seeing how these acts of kindness have profoundly affected him, moving him to ‘pay it forward’. The experience has given him a heart to give back, grateful for how he’s been helped by others.

Impact HK helped Josiah find a new flat. Crossroads helped him furnish it.

 

“If you need me to come and volunteer, just call me!” he said.

We love stepping into the story of individuals such as Josiah, helping equip Hong Kong NGOs as they serve tirelessly at the grassroots of our city.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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At 95, Mrs Kan has seen many chapters of Hong Kong’s history. She lives alone in Tai O, a traditional fishing village, by a river, lined with rickety wooden homes on stilts. When the fierce winds of Typhoon Hato swept through, in August 2017, Tai O was a vulnerable target. Its population is largely older people, these days, as many of the younger generation have moved closer to the city.  So Mrs Kan and her elderly neighbours rely on each other in times of need, not always easy given their advanced age and limited mobility. When this massive storm hit, the community watched in fear as flood waters rose higher and higher, damaging their homes, their appliances and their furniture.

Initially, it seemed impossible to replace what the storm had damaged. Mrs Kan lost a washing machine and a fridge.

Her neighbour, Mr Kwan, is 87 years old. He, like her, lives alone and since suffering a stroke, has had trouble moving around.

“The water went above my knees,” he recalls. “I was not able to move, and some of my neighbours called the fire department to help me.”

Thankfully, he was rescued, but he lost his fridge, washing machine and most of his furniture.

Crossroads ran a campaign to source electrical goods and other needed support. The response was immediate and overwhelming! Several businesses and individuals leaped to help, offering to fund or supply what we needed. When our team went out to Tai O to deliver and install the goods, residents recognised our red Crossroads t-shirts calling out, “Thank you, thank you!” as our volunteers pushed heavy appliances along the small lanes.

Mrs Kan herself was pleased to see her washing machine and fridge replaced, as seen in the first picture below. Mr Kwan, and other neighbours also received electrical goods and our staff helped install and connect them (2nd picture below).

As well as Tai O, we were also pleased to support Kar Wo Lei Tsuen, a village right next door to Crossroads’ site, where people suffered storm damage to homes and possessions.


In numbers

650 items in total were delivered to 400 households Tai O:

  • 184 fridges
  • 99 washing machines
  • 31 stoven
  • 60 kettles
  • 60 rice cookers
  • 60 fans
  • 50 heaters
  • 53 beds & mattresses
  • 53 other household articles

TTHANK YOU!

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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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,...

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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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“Every time I went home, I felt so depressed, because of the condition of our flat. I even attempted suicide because I wasn’t able to afford electricity bills.”

Mrs Tse’s life is hard, by anyone’s standards. She’s a single mother with five children ranging from 8 to 18. She lives in a public housing estate and survives with welfare support. She’d love to find a job, but her mental illness makes life unpredictable, and her social worker has recommended that she rest from formal work at the moment.

A problem with the estate’s plumbing led to a leaking water pipe that flooded the Tse’s cramped apartment and ruined their furniture. “She’s desperately needing to replace the rotten furniture,” said Mrs Tse’s social worker, “but there is no way she can afford to fix it by herself.”

When Mrs Tse visited Crossroads, we were only too glad to be able to help her browse and select furniture to meet her family’s needs. They took away cabinets, a bunk bed and sofa, and, more importantly, the feeling that somebody truly cares.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Computers from Crossroads are helping the Neighbourhood Advice-Action Councils’ Shun Tin hostel care better for the 19 adults with intellectual disabilities in their home. Previously, it was only the staff who had computers, for essential office admin work. They asked us for computers for their clients to use as well. The dedicated staff are always looking for more ways to enhance their residents’ quality of life and give them new experiences. One computer from Crossroads is being used to play audio and videos at their community dance classes. Another is available throughout the day for the residents to use so they can learn valuable skills, and engage more with the world around them.

“We believe it’s important to allow our clients to use computers in this era of technology,” said staff. “Knowing how to use computers is an important skill in modern society.”

The hostel has generous government assistance, but when it comes to furniture, computers and other needs for the shared rooms and offices, it can be hard to make space in their budget. Crossroads has loved partnering with NAAC to fill this gap!

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 ...