“Farmers are an important part of our society,” says Adisa of Guildance Community Development Foundation, Nigeria. That’s a serious understatement. In rural Nigeria, farming is the backbone of the community and, if farmers can’t work, families don’t eat. Guildance supports grassroots agricultural communities and Crossroads was able to come alongside them to help Nigerian farmers with a UK donation of safe footwear made through Global Hand.

“Many farmers have lost legs or suffered serious foot diseases from hazards on farms. These would have been easily avoided if they’d had farm boots on,” says Adisa. Working with herbicides and other chemicals adds an additional hazard, he explains.

When a UK donor organisation offered 200 pairs of industrial-quality boots (pictured right) on the Global Hand website, Guildance was quick to accept. The boots are not only waterproof and resistant to chemicals and animal products, they have steel toe-caps, making them extremely hardy and safe for agricultural work. The boots were shipped from the UK and distributed to farmers in south-western Nigeria, where they’re now in use. “The farmers were full of praise,” said Guildance. “They now use the safety boots on their farms and, from their feedback, incidents of hazards have reduced drastically.”

The boots are a wonderful example of how Crossroads can help give a second and even third life to un-needed goods. They were offered as second-hand goods, having been formerly used in the food industry, but the quality was fine. We are excited to see them find a new life on Nigerian farms, contributing not only to safety but, in the larger picture, to food security and, ultimately, poverty alleviation.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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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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Recent years have seen intolerable suffering for women in the conflict-ridden country of Sudan where they have, systematically, been victim to violence and rape.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) sought ways to empower women in this troubled country. They looked at ways of creating employment opportunities, since women would be less vulnerable with greater independence, self-sufficiency, control of their lives and, of course, dignity.

As they sought ideas for women in business, they discussed the growing of hibiscus. This is plentiful in Sudan and is an ingredient used in tea products of fruit tea blends.

There was a problem with hibiscus business initiatives, however. While Sudan is renowned for producing high quality hibiscus for teas, around 18,000 tons a year, many Sudanese hibiscus farmers have remained caught in the poverty trap.  As hibiscus growers put it, “We produce the crop, then the traders come and take it on their terms.”

UNDP Sudan (3)It was a situation calling out for a Fair Trade overhaul.

A staff member from UNDP therefore posted a request on business.un.org. She asked for interested companies, dealing in hibiscus, to come together and discuss how to make trading practices fairer for the farmers. Some of the world’s leading businesses responded and the result was phenomenal. People from different levels of the hibiscus industry came together and brought significant change. This will impact the futures of at least 5,000 vulnerable women and girls in Sudan by, for example, seeing factories in Sudan becoming Fair Trade certified to ensure sustainable income for those involved.

This is a story that truly illustrates the power of partnerships!

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“Meet my colleague. He has been to prison seven times”, says the director of the Kazakh rehab centre. He beams as he speaks, though, because his colleague, like others in the centre, has not touched alcohol or drugs for a long time now and is no longer in danger of another prison term for associated crime.

All of the men here are middle aged. All have spent decades battling the pull of addiction. But, in this shelter, they have been winning that fight and there seems an almost palpable sense of relief.

FABBAs 2

Each man plays a role in the modest lifestyle they share. They work the gardens until the snows come. They chop their own wood. They make one nourishing vat of soup each day and bake their own bread to serve with it. It’s minimal, but this shelter offers a safe place.

That safety, however, is at risk. A philanthropist who formerly funded much of their work, has now left the country and his attentions have moved elsewhere. If the centre has to close, the men will be out on the streets.

They have an idea, though, that may help them stay sustainable. They have three containers in their yard which have now been all but emptied of the beds, blankets, clothing, washing machines, computers, desks, chairs, tiles and other items we sent from Hong Kong.

The men have arranged the containers as the outer rim of an automobile repair workshop which will, hopefully, provide them with enough income to stay open. The nicest of the containers is a brightly painted one donated by FABBAs (Hong Kong Fund Managers’ Asian Brokers’ and Bankers’ Awards). It will face on to the street to receive customers, with a door cut in its side and a ‘shop’ area within. If all goes according to plan, FABBAs’ generosity will prove be a gift that keeps on giving.

We salute FABBAs for a decade of strategic partnership with Crossroads, one which has seen many thousands of lives touched around the world.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Kazakhstan Snapshop

Population: 17.9 million
Capital: Astana

Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country by land area and ninth largest country in the world. The climate is continental, with warm summers and colder winters.

The GDP per capita is US$12,950 or around $35 per day. In Hong Kong, the GDP per capita is US$33,534 or $91 per day.

kazkhstan

 

Our food-saving superheroes

Every day, 3,600 tonnes of food waste are sent to landfill in Hong Kong, according to Feeding Hong Kong. Meanwhile, people...

read more ...

Recycling artisans make good news in Sri Lanka

When Sri Lankan artist Sagara Ranga Liyanage decided to start a handicrafts business, he had to think outside the box. "I...

read more ...

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“I don’t want to throw this stuff out. I want it to go to someone who needs it. If only there...

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