Investing for Life

Northern Uganda: a place where a nightmare was played out, largely unnoticed by the rest of  humanity for twenty years.

play-equip-from-japanese-international-school-2Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, led by the infamous Joseph Kony, would enter villages, often at night, to abduct children as child soldiers or rebel ‘brides’. Some were as young as 7. Children were often forced to kill siblings or parents: a strategy designed to make them feel too guilty to escape the rebels and sneak back home. Those who resisted the LRA were usually shot. The abducted children often spent years in the bush. There they were taught to pillage, torture, cannabilise and kill. It was normal for ears and lips to be cut off, as a threat to any who would ‘talk’. Children wee traded with neighbouring countries for ammunition. Others became cannon fodder, some as young as 4, since young children, in these skirmishes, are not necessarily issued weapons.

Crossroads shipped, year after year, to this location supporting work among these young lives. When our team visited, they were told “Take a good look round. Everything you see came from Crossroads.” They saw tables, chairs, beds, sheets, shoes, clothes, educational supplies, cupboards, cabinets, computers for the educational system and equipment for vocational training.

24392597432_995a1f64ad_k

Former child soldier David Livingstone speaks to participants at Crossroads’ Refugee Run simulation in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum

The children’s favourite was a surprise to us all. One of the key leaders in the area, David Livingstone, asked us if we had any playground equipment “because counsellors advise us that the children of war need to ‘learn how to be kids’ again.” The very week he asked, we received an offer from an international school in Hong Kong offering, amazingly, a brand new set of swings, slides and climbing equipment, worth US$20,000. Once in Uganda, it was used from sun up to sun down.

David himself has broadened his work to include agriculture, small businesses to help families and communities re-start. He has also opened up medical work to battle a new illness, the infamous Nodding’s Disease, which is claiming the lives of their children in the post war era. He joins us at the World Economic Forum when we take the Refugee Run there as we seek to keep this desperate part of the world before world leaders who can help.

The children’s favourite was a surprise to us all. One of the key leaders in the area, David Livingstone, asked us if we had any playground equipment “because counsellors advise us that the children of war need to ‘learn how to be kids’ again.” The very week he asked, we received an offer from an international school in Hong Kong offering, amazingly, a brand new set of swings, slides and climbing equipment, worth US$20,000. Once in Uganda, it was used from sun up to sun down.

It is our goal, at Crossroads, to invest for life. Our partnership in Northern Uganda is one example of many we celebrate in this our anniversary year.

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.

map-uganda

“They called it ‘Black September’. Two months afterwards, you could still smell the acrid smoke in the air.” The aid worker falls silent, recalling the charred remains of East Timor’s capital, Dili, in 1999. “I saw people in the streets just wandering… wandering, like they didn’t know what to do with themselves.”

September 1999 is burnt into the memory of East Timorese people, when the horrors of the war came to a savage conclusion. As peace-keepers and aid workers later sifted through the wreckage in Dili, they found the bodies of whole families strewn with their possessions around the remains of their burnt homes.

Those aid workers had to face heartbreaking issues. How do you heal the memories of a six-year-old boy who has witnessed the slaughter of his mother and baby brother? How do you help a teenage girl who battles devastating shame and confusion after being raped by a soldier? While the country battles to rebuild its infrastructure, the people of East Timor struggle to overcome deep psychological wounds: the legacy of 24 violent years.

In July, 2003, Crossroads sent a shipment to a group in East Timor, working to help children deal with their horrific experiences. The group, a non-profit organisation, could not afford many of the resources it needed to do this work. We were able to send clothes, shoes and household items for families struggling to rebuild their homes, as well as toys and other items that will be used in the children’s counselling centre. An entire playground set was one of the larger items in the container, which the community helped to build in the grounds of the local school.

An aid worker from this group wrote to thank us for the goods, saying, “Words are not enough to describe the joy we felt upon receiving this container. We’ve been waiting for such materials for a long time.” The playground set was particularly well-received by the children, who have been deprived for so long of a normal, happy childhood. “The children in our school are very eager and excited upon receiving the materials,” he wrote. “They are specially overjoyed with the very nice playground. This playground is so important for the development of the kids, but when it arrived, it was not only the kids who enjoyed it, even the parents and adults are making fuss out of it!”

Our joy is, likewise, great, as we hear such news of lives in East Timor being changed through donated goods from Hong Kong.

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

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 ...