We often speak of our experiential programme that simulate issues such as the complexity of poverty. Read these words from a participant this year:

“Seventy of us enter a large room. We sit on a concrete floor, empty aside from rusty corrugated iron wall paneling and a few makeshift shops…The next hour is a haze of noise, rejection, begging, and work that fails to meet the minimum targets. We start with intent and vigour but the desperation grows each moment. We start to offer our possessions and confront our own values and integrity in the quest for survival. And I feel like I’m in a washing machine struggling for breath. I cannot think of tomorrow when today looks hopeless and urgent. I’ll work all day. All night. But the challenge to survive is overwhelming. And this is day one.”

The person writing that was part of NGO, Global Development Group. This participant, as the others, already knew poverty well. GDG is an association that brings together people dedicated to alleviating suffering.  Even so, the simulation proved powerful. We often hear practitioners say that, while they work amid poverty, the simulation of it still brings the reality home in new ways.

GDG held its International Development Partner Conference in Hong Kong this year and chose to include our Struggle for Survival simulation. Its participants, largely from developing nations, found it a time of perspective-shift, and reaffirmation of their organisations’ goals.

 

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140 students from Diocesan Girls’ School had a taste of inequality when they did our ‘Some, Tonnes, None’ simulation in 2018. Along with many other Hong Kong schools, DGS makes Crossroads a regular fixture on their school calendar, as part of their curriculum unit of growing global citizens. One little girl, who was given an empty plate, remembered how it felt to see a classmate in her group holding a plate piled high with food.

“Now I think of those people who lack resources and keep struggling for a basic living,” she said afterwards. “It is really sad to know that there are many people who are still suffering chronic hunger.”

The parents of students who do this programme have told us they talk about it for months: face to face with a planet where 20% of the people live on 80% of world resources and vice versa.

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Unilever's global supply chain managers took part in the Struggle for Survival x-perience.

Unilever’s global supply chain heads make and sell paper bags to ‘survive’ life in the slum.

Unilever’s global supply chain heads became ‘slum dwellers’ for a morning when they took part in our Struggle for Survival x-perience in London in May.

A team from Global X-perience in Hong Kong and Global Hand UK threw the Unilever staff into their new roles as impoverished families in a slum, desperately trying to keep themselves alive by making and selling paper bags, escaping loan sharks, disease and other perils.

After the fast-paced simulation, the participants, in small groups, were tasked with coming up with solutions that would help Unilever care better for the communities they work in and source from.

Staff discussed how Unilever can better care for and work with the communities where their goods are manufactured.

Staff discussed how Unilever can better care for and work with the communities where their goods are manufactured.

The event kicked off an international meeting for the supply chain heads. They  were already scheduled to meet when Unilever’s chief supply chain officer was so moved by Crossroads’ Struggle for Survival X-perience at the World Economic Forum in January that he invited our team to run it for his staff at this gathering in May.

“It had such an impact on me even within a 90 minute session,” said one of the staff after the simulation. “It generated loads of empathy, ideas and positive action,” commented another.

Would you like your company, club or organisation to do one of our x-periences? We’d love to talk about how we might work together! Email partnerships@crossroads.org.hk

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It’s a nice problem to have. Our phones run hot and our email boxes burst with new messages as Hong Kong people generously offer goods to us each day. The people of Hong Kong love to give.

So, yes, a nice problem to have, but a problem, of sorts, nonetheless. With phone calls numbering 60, 70, or more, every day, it can be hard for even our dedicated team of volunteers to keep up.  They were sometimes overwhelmed. So was the system they were using. It was designed for an earlier time in Crossroads’ history. It worked fine, back then, but could not meet today’s demand. Nor, from what we could see, would it meet tomorrow’s.

Microsoft2When Microsoft first contacted Crossroads, it was to arrange a day of corporate volunteering and simulations. But after a day serving at our Crossroads’ site and experiencing a taste of poverty through the Struggle for Survival simulation, they were inspired to do more than just use their muscles!

Microsoft worked with Crossroads to come up with a partnership that truly used their core strengths, and solved our incoming phone calls dilemma.They donated and hosted a brand new IT system which is far better suited for handling the generosity of Hong Kong’s wonderful community.

“The most immediate benefit is that we have more visibility of our donation pipeline so that we will be able to match more donations to more needs and deliver relief faster. That means we will be saying ‘no’ [to donations] less often!” said Matthew Gow, Crossroads’ CTO.

With Microsoft’s partnership, it’s a joy to be saying ‘yes’ to more lives changed!

We can help your company engage with development issues

Crossroads has helped hundreds of companies, including some of the world’s biggest brand names, find ways they can develop their CSR programmes and serve the poor, through volunteer days, finding NGOs to partner with around the world, taking part in simulations, and much more.

Contact us today at enquiries@crossroads.org.hk to start talking about how we can help!

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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