Where others might look at disadvantaged young people and see poverty, despair or a lack of opportunity, NGO Akin Alliance looks with a different lens. They see potential, an opportunity, and work with these young people to develop leadership skills and community spirit.

“Everyone in our organisation is unsalaried,” says Andy, from Akin Alliance. “We are just volunteers who come together for a common goal. So we love getting donated goods to run different events and save on our budget.”

We gave them a range of furniture to that end: outdoor chairs, lockers, desks and office furniture.

That really is our goal in serving NGOs. Nearly all have limited spending power and the gift of goods can slash a demanding budget, empowering them to use their financial resources on other needs. It’s one of the things we love about this work.

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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The Silver Lining Foundation lives up to its name. Their work is with orphans and abandoned children so they see great heartbreak and suffering. Yet there’s also joy, the proverbial silver lining surrounding the cloud, which can be found. Their name celebrates that joy with the children. Based in Hong Kong, they support vulnerable children in nearby Asian nations.

“We help 10 schools with more than 2,000 children each year,” they said. “Some orphans have been discriminated against in their home towns, or are from broken families. We treat them like our own kids.”

When Silver Lining moved offices in April 2017, they were starting from scratch. Much of their old furniture was broken or not suitable, so they approached Crossroads with a wishlist, and we were only too happy to fill it! They took away a truck’s worth of goods including 25 chairs, tables, sofas, cabinets, computers, a conference table and more.

 

That’s one thing we  love about this work. Gifts of this kind can mean dedicated NGOs, working on a minimal budget, can save money for other purposes. As we often say at Crossroads: We can’t make a capital injection of money, but we can make a capital injection of product. And, yes, we love to help others help others!

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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When we think of ‘slavery’, we easily picture 18th century shiploads of people in appalling conditions, or Roman captives under a merciless whip.

It is tempting to think the issue of ‘slavery’ belongs to yesteryear. Yet, extraordinarily, the world has, today, more slaves than it has ever known before.

One hot spot is Romania where many are lured by the offer of work in other countries only to find, upon arrival, they have been sold into the sex trade or other ‘forced labour’.

Romania is a tragic ‘trifecta’:  a source, transit and a destination country for human trafficking. Global Hand saw a unique match come about when an Australian research organisation, Social Compass, wanted to help.

They used the Global Hand website to offer pro bono research and evaluation for any NGO working in the field of sex trafficking. The offer was snapped up by Romanian NGO Pro Prietenia Arad, who does indeed serve people tangled up in such heart-breaking situations.

The two parties are now working together to see research that will bring freedom to some of those who are trapped by this modern tragedy.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Romania Snapshot

Population: 21.77 million
Capital: Bucharest

Population below national poverty line of US$3.50 per day: 21.5%

Infant mortality rates are among the highest in Europe. Access to health care is not commonly available for the poor.

Based on GDP stats, Romania is the 9th poorest country in Europe out of 50, with an average income of USD 12.80 per person.

A74

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Though many in Africa look to Ghana as a model for political and economic reform, difficulties such as poverty, disease, and lack of basic educational tools still plague people in rural parts of the country.

Thousands of those who are more educated leave Ghana for jobs elsewhere, draining the country of adequate health professionals and teachers.  Others must face the scourge of AIDS without proper treatment, and countless young children are forced to abandon their education in order to care for younger siblings and sick parents.  Crossroads shipped to an NGO working in the Volta Region of Ghana, one of the poorest areas of the country.  The organisation focuses on ensuring that the children in this area can attend school and learn how to read and write through their Read-to-Succeed programme.  They also run vocational centres that provide tools and training for youth so they can find employment once they finish school. We were able to ship a variety of items to resource the schools and training centres as well as support the building of a secondary school.
Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Ghana Snapshot

Capital: Accra

Population: 27 million. 45% of the population is under 18.

Ghana is in West Africa, located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, and has a tropical climate. It is the fifth most stable state in Africa.
There are about 1 million children orphaned for a variety of reasons in the country.
34% of children are involved in some kind of child labour, and education is often inaccessible in rural areas.

Ghana_S3350_6

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“Despite the rhetoric on good donorship and the mushrooming of the international aid reform industry, millions remain consigned to the shadows of unfashionable crises and disasters. For them, every day is a lottery to live or die…” Mukesh Kapila

“When we shine a light on a natural disaster like the earthquake in Haiti, we not only stimulate the interest of millions of people in helping, but we also make the case for fixing what is broken.” Rick Stengle, Editor of TIME. (Time Magazine, 21 January, 2010)

PressCan that light illuminate ‘the shadows of unfashionable crises’ in Kapila’s statement? When media places that spotlight on suffering, does it stimulate interest in a world which is otherwise uninterested and make the case for ‘fixing what is broken’? “In the case of the tragedy of Haiti,” Stengle continues, “there is a positive correlation between what the media are doing and the desire to help…”

Few would question either of the above statements. The difficulty is that ‘what is broken’ cannot be fixed in the short time that a tragedy stays in the media spotlight and, once the focus of the cameras is turned elsewhere, the world’s interest tends to turn with it. Yet, for the affected populations, recovery is likely to take years or even decades.

So which sectors, are responsible for those ‘consigned to the shadows of unfashionable crises and disasters’? And, of them, what role does media play?

•    GOVERNMENTS: Some say governments are not driven by media, but by political, economic, cultural, historic and geographic constraints. Others, like Boutros Boutros Ghali, go as far as describing CNN as the 16th member of the Security Council, claiming governments did not act unless media motivated them.

•    NGOs & IGOs: Many non government or inter government organisations claim media to be crucial to the empowering they receive from their community, though others, particularly academics, dispute this.

•    PRIVATE SECTOR: In the past, government giving far outstripped private giving, but these days private sector giving is approaching parity. Media is the most direct way the members of the private sector get their information.

•    MEDIA: The topic at hand.
A number of excellent initiatives explore or quantify current and forgotten disasters. For example:

•    ECHO offers a ‘forgotten crisis assessment’. (http://ec.europa.eu/echo/)
•    IRIN regularly offers stories on forgotten disasters. (www.irinnews.org)

•    MSF lists ‘Underreported Humanitarian Stories’. (www.doctorswithoutborders.org)

•    ReliefWeb offers continuous information on disaster situations. (www.reliefweb.int)

•    IBT (International Broadcasting Trust) addresses the issue on behalf of its charity coalition. (www.ibt.org.uk)

•    A site like Reuter’s AlertNet tracks media coverage of disasters. It permits a user to select disaster coverage according to one’s interests, as well as providing tools to support those who want to report on forgotten disasters.(www.alertnet.org)

The Red Cross has tracked humanitarian response against need assessed:

Their chart shows that the tsunami received almost 5 times more than requested, per head, while other disasters such as those in Niger and Malawi, received only 1/3 of that needed.
Can one, though, actually map the disparate nature of response and reporting? Our researchers at Global Hand did just that and we were caught by surprise in the way they mirrored one another:
A close pattern emerged, mapping the UK’s fundraising body – the DEC – and press coverage:

So, even though it would be naïve to call media the silver bullet, there is no shirking from the fact that a connection exists. Additionally, in so far as that is true, should we ask whether we can raise the bar in some way, regarding those who are forgotten?

Raising the bar would mean, though, resolving issues on which people are divided. That is not easy. The issues are considerable.

•    HUMANITARIAN PRESS OFFERINGS: FLUFF OR SUBSTANCE?
Some say humanitarian press releases lack editorial substance: often just a thin veneer over fund-raising copy. Others say that can be addressed with training and dialogue.

•    FORGOTTEN DISASTER COVERAGE: COMPELLING JOURNALISM OR DOOM AND GLOOM?
Some say humanitarians lack media understanding: one can’t maintain ratings with ‘doom and gloom’ material. Others say this caricatures disaster coverage and material can be found compelling enough for ratings to be maintained.

•    CELEBRITY HUMANITARIANISM: HELP OR HINDRANCE?
Some see celebrity humanitarianism as a hindrance: presenting a shallow, at times inaccurate, representation of complex humanitarian issues. Others believe it has value, nonetheless, because it does indeed make the story press worthy. If, say, Angelina Jolie or Bono turn up in little known locations, that, in turn, raises profile and helps drive global response.

•    REPORTING CAPACITY: INTERNATIONAL/ LOCAL
Some say this can’t be asked of international press since, these days, fewer retain regional offices. Others say that, rather than parachuting international journalists in to a location, national journalists should be empowered to report.

•    COMMUNITY JOURNALISM: BALANCED OR BIASED?
Some suggest that greater use should also be made of blogs and video sharing. Others say community reporting may prevent a balanced picture and mainstream journalism is still essential in this context.

•    AGENDAS: INSUPERABLE OR INSEPARABLE?
Some argue that the humanitarian sector and the media have differing agendas and audiences. It is not the media’s job to give voice to the millions who have no voice on the world stage. Others respond by saying that, though their agendas are not the same in entirety, there is significant overlap. The fact, they say, that millions of human beings are battling for survival is not only worthy of humanitarian interest but, arguably, of news interest as well. The audiences of the two, they add, may not be dissimilar as both sectors clamour for the attention of the public at large.

•    HIERARCHY OF DISASTER: RANDOM OR REASON?
Some complain that there is an odd peculiarity to the hierarchy of disaster coverage, governed by a set of somewhat arbitrary factors with no ‘obvious’ pattern. They ask whether the process should not be less random? Do we owe our fellow human beings a measure of accountability? Others counter that there is no appropriate strategy for setting a hierarchy in place.

•    EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE: SACROSANCT OR INDULGENT?
Some argue that calling upon the media to report on forgotten disasters constitutes a violation of editorial independence. Others say there is a moral imperative at work here and that even editorial independence should not operate in a moral vacuum when millions of lives are at stake. Freedom to report does not constitute freedom from responsibility.

•    ACCOUNTABILITY: LIBERATING OR CONSTRICTING?
Some say that even if journalists want to get such stories told, they would not be permitted by their editors. Others say that, if MSR were in place, editors would be obligated to make supporting resource available.

•    RESOURCING OPTIONS: MORAL IMPERATIVE OR MORAL CONCERN?
Some suggest that a solution might be found if a humanitarian fund were set in place to cover the costs of press coverage. Others argue that the very act of providing money for journalistic endeavour could be a moral compromise, per se.

•    FOURTH ESTATE: EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE/OBLIGATION
Some cite the Fourth Estate, alluding to William Burke who, in an 18th century sitting of parliament, acknowledged the governing personnel of his day, the three ‘estates’, and then gestured to the press gallery, saying “There sits the Fourth Estate… more powerful than us all.” With that power comes responsibility, they say, to the millions who suffer unseen. Others say that would violate editorial independence.

•    GLOBAL COVERAGE: NICETY OR NECESSITY?
Some conclude that, while greater coverage of human beings in forgotten scenarios is a nice-to-have, it is simply not going to happen: that we are not, as the saying has it, our brothers’ keepers. Others say we, as human beings, have a responsibility that millions not be left unseen or unheard and they call for Media Social Responsibility.

•    MSR/CSR

Some say that implementing MSR would make it hard to keep ratings high and to ensure profitability. Others argue that this is analogous to the manufacturing sector, a decade ago, when it resisted calls for global responsibility, objecting to, say, environmental accountability and telling others not to interfere. They too cited profitability as the issue but, with compliance now the norm, businesses have found a way to exercise responsibility and stay profitable.

MEDIA SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY – IS IT TIME?

Is it, then, time to raise the bar? Should we, as some suggest, be considering Media Social Responsibility? Imagine major networks preparing annual reports, they say, and including a section in which they account for the way they exercised their global responsibility by putting forgotten people on the world stage.

Whether Media Social Responsibility is worth considering, or even a vehicle for discussion, is yet to be seen. Global Hand has opened discussion about the possibility of a conference with Reuters, CNN, the UK Media CSR group, Media 21 and the United Nations. The goal would be to gather journalists, editorial staff and even heads of industry, together with senior humanitarian actors. We welcome response from interested parties.

This article began with Kapila’s haunting words: “… millions remain consigned to the shadows of unfashionable crises and disasters. For them, every day is a lottery to live or die…”

Global Hand has joined its voice with those who believe, in light of that reality, we need to keep this discussion going until answers are found

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Vietnam_kids_on_the_floorAt just 5 years old, Khang*, of Vietnam, had almost no way to ‘make it’ with the options life had left him.

Khang’s father had died in prison: a concept that, at 5, he could hardly understand. He and his mother lived on the streets where she, through prostitution, had tried to earn enough to take care of him. Eventually, though, she found life overwhelming and abandoned Khang.

The little boy ended up in the care of a charity that provides shelter for young ones in crisis. Crossroads shipped a container to the charity that runs Khang’s home, including goods like computers, school supplies and clothes. His ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ in the home are there because their parents, too, cannot take care of them. They may be drug addicts, homeless or simply too poor to manage another mouth to feed.

 “We encourage these kids to dream big!” NGO staff member, Vietnam

Each one of the children’s backgrounds is a tragedy. Amazingly, though, their future has been redeemed. “We encourage these kids to dream big,” said one of the staff, perhaps because nobody else has told them they can.

Khang, now 15, wants to be an accountant and work for an international bank. Living on the streets with his mother, it’s unlikely he would ever have gone to school, or even survived. Today, though, Khang has every chance of achieving his dream!

Vietnam_students_in_school

The children receive a golden opportunity twice a week: computer classes, where they learn the sorts of skills that their wealthier schoolmates take for granted. The computers they use are laptops from the shipment we sent last year, as are the desks they sit at!

It’s a privilege to partner with NGOs like this one in Vietnam, who are actively working to fight poverty and change the futures of children in need.

*Name changed

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Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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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 ...

When we think of ‘slavery’, we easily picture 18th century shiploads or Roman times. Yet, today, the BBC tells us, the world has more slaves than it has ever known before.

Romania_ladies_legsOne hot spot is Romania where many are offered tempting ‘jobs’ in other countries only to find, upon arrival, they have been sold into the sex trade or other ‘forced labour’.

Romania is a tragic ‘trifecta’: a source, transit and a destination country for human trafficking. Global Hand saw a unique match come about when an Australian research organisation, Social Compass, wanted to help.

Global Hand can help your company find non-profit projects to partner on. Click the link for more:
www.globalhand.org

They used the Global Hand website to offer pro bono research and evaluation for any NGO working in the field of sex trafficking.

The offer was snapped up by Romanian NGO Pro Prietenia Arad, who does indeed serve people tangled up in such heart-breaking situations.

The two parties are now working together to see research that will bring freedom to some of those who are trapped by this modern tragedy.

Can we help you find non-profit projects to partner on?

Visit www.globalhand.org to search for NGOs around the world looking for corporate partners.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Nepalese_woman_cleaning_riseWhen Anu’s family fell on hard times, they were forced to pull her out of school. It was a harsh blow for this Nepalese village family, who knew the young girl had huge potential, but they simply couldn’t afford to pay her fees.

Hope finally came to town in the form of an NGO who opened an innovative kindergarten for impoverished families, and they employed Anu’s mother. It brought in enough extra income for Anu to re-enrol in school and finish a high quality education. Today, instead of expecting a lifetime of poverty, Anu has plans to study further and become a civil engineer.

Engagement strategist for Crossroads’ Global Hand, Eric, met Anu when he visited Nepal this year with a Microsoft representative. Microsoft Hong Kong has been designing a project for villages like Anu’s, building computer labs in schools where there are none.

Microsoft Nepal 2The partnership with Microsoft was born when they organised a team day of landscaping and manual work at Crossroads’ site, but weren’t content simply to use their muscle for us! They wanted to use their core strengths but consulted Crossroads for guidance on NGOs who needed their help and how to go about it.

Crossroads worked closely with Microsoft to find partners in Nepal that desperately wanted computers and could use them strategically for the poor. Today, Microsoft is in the final stages of establishing two computer labs in poor communities, and would love to do more.

Can we help your company connect with NGOs that need your help? Email engagement@crossroads.org.hk to talk!

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...

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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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