“The situation is bad…there is no tourism at all. Locally, business has totally stopped. We worry about what awaits us in the coming months if the situation will remain the same. Our people will suffer from a shortage of food, medicine.”

These words above came from friends in Bethlehem, whose handicrafts made by traditional carpenters (pictured above) we sell in our Global Handicrafts shop. They’re not unique, though. They represent a heart’s cry which is coming at us from all corners of the world. When the pandemic started spreading globally, we started talking to our partners – fair trade producers, shipment consignees, long-time friends – and all, regardless of their field of work, were telling a tragically similar story. As soon as the crisis hit, these communities were reduced to the bare bones of survival. They needed food, and they needed money to stay above water, let alone care for those who were now battling the infection.

We knew that shipping food halfway across the world from Hong Kong may not be the most efficient way to help. We also knew that Crossroads would not be able to send money of our own. In fact, money has been a particular challenge for Crossroads, too, during Covid-19.

We could do two things, however. First, we could be a voice. Our Global X-perience team was looking right then to find new ways to envision people, during a time when we couldn’t host visitors at our site. So, they produced online videos telling the stories of these suffering friends. Second, we set up an appeal for money so we could quickly and efficiently channel funds to Covid-19 affected communities and use the videos to ask for contributions. We sent money from that fund to several groups who had shared their needs. Now, we’re hearing back about how it’s lifting just some of the burden.

In Northern Uganda, where formal employment is already in single digits, an injection of funds allowed our friends to provide food for extremely vulnerable families struggling through the economic impact of Covid.

In Bethlehem, the funds are helping our fair trade producer partners there stay operational, as traditional carpenters face the instant drying up of their livelihood without a flow of tourists. “Thanks a lot for your hard work,” they said. “The amount will help us to keep on with our missions, this is highly appreciated…”

In Thailand, our partners work with people who are often forced to work in the red light districts of Pattaya. Funds from Crossroads purchased food packs (pictured above) for women who’ve suddenly had their livelihood cut off. “Wonderful news that you want to contribute to the food bags!” came the excited reply when some of our staff offered financial help. “The food distribution is still going on as the need is still huge. More and more people are losing their jobs because there are no tourists here and bars, shops and restaurants are closing all around us.”

More of the relief fund has been shared with partners in places like Nigeria and the Thai-Burma border. As always, difficult times like these affect the poorest and the most vulnerable the most deeply. A recent World Bank report said that this pandemic could push between 71 – 100 million people into extreme poverty in 2020. It would be the first increase in global extreme poverty since 1998.

Want to give funds to help during Covid-19?

You can help relieve the burden of economic hardship hitting those in poverty during Covid-19. Click here to donate. We’re also looking for sustaining donors to help Crossroads continue to serve throughout this challenging time. You can join our team of champions who help make this work possible! Click here to read more about becoming a sustaining donor.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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It’s hard not to grieve over the streets of Pattaya, Thailand, with the exploitation and other tragic stories usually written there. The business ‘booming’ on its streets is largely sex work: a massive industry which provides a means of survival for an estimated 35,000 women and men. Not all want this kind of work. Some are pushed into it by the financial need of their parents, even their own spouses, in order to pay the bills. With the arrival of Covid, though, the bars closed and, suddenly, thousands were destitute without access to some of the official safety nets.

One of Crossroads’ partners, Tamar Centre, was established to reach out to sex workers. “It’s devastating,” they told us. “Thousands of people lost their jobs when the bars needed to close during lockdown. Now the bars have re-opened but many have been bankrupted already because they don’t have enough customers. Every day we hear about more bars, shops and restaurants closing. Every day more people are on the streets without jobs. Those who have the least are just left with no one caring for them. The situation will continue to get worse,” they said. “All we can do is help.”

When we spoke with Tamar staff, they were in the middle of an intensive food package campaign, trying to meet some of the urgent immediate needs of those they care for.

Their work goes far deeper than daily bread, though. They teach new skills to women who want to break out of the sex industry, and employ many in their cafe, shop, salon and other projects. They even visit the home villages of women to help educate families there about the risks of trafficking and falling into prostitution when seeking a new life in the city.

We’ve partnered with Tamar for many years, selling their handmade cards in our Handicrafts shop, produced by women transitioning out of the sex industry. When their business was crippled by Covid, they reached out to us with a suggestion: what if Tamar‘s workshop were to create Crossroads’ 2020 Christmas cards? “If you would place this order, it would give us the opportunity to employ many women for this, and would give the women a job and an income,” they said.

So, we placed our order! The ball is rolling, and they have already started employing some of the women in their projects to begin work on our 2020 cards (pictured above), ready in time to spread much-needed joy to the world at Christmas.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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WHO IS THIS SHIPMENT HELPING?

Along the border between Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) there are nine camps housing more than 93,000 refugees, mostly from ethnic minorities such as the Karen group. They are living in a desperate state of limbo. Without proper papers, refugee children here can’t attend school or even travel to larger cities once they’re older, meaning they grow up stuck in the same poverty cycle they were born into. They are extremely vulnerable to disease, violence, rape, drug abuse and human trafficking.

Crossroads has been partnering with an NGO working at Mae Sot, near the largest of these border refugee camps. Knowing that children here can’t access formal schooling, they started their own schools – four so far – where children are given love, attention and a quality education. While basic and in desperate need of resources, these schools provide a place where the children are safe and protected, and where they can access a level of education otherwise out of their reach. They are excited to be constructing a new school building, creating a more secure environment to care for children from families who work at the nearby rubbish dump. They have the space now, but are seeking the equipment and furniture to fill it.

Crossroads is preparing a shipment of goods to bring the school buildings to life and equip other parts of their work with refugee families. We hope to include goods like school and office furniture, clothing and shoes, computers, appliances, beds and more.


A safe haven for orphaned refugee children

Some of the goods from this shipment will furnish a dormitory building (pictured left, under construction) for orphaned refugee students at our partners’ school.

Sadly, some have suffered abuse or are at high risk of abuse, being alone and vulnerable. This new building will create a safer place for them to live while they study.

 


Despite scarce resources, our partners’ schools are places of hope and joy, where each child is given care, attention, and an education.

More than 100 migrant and refugee families live on this rubbish dump in Mae Sot, where they collect plastic to sell for a few cents a kilogram.


Reference No : S5507
Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

The school by the dump

For students at our partners’ newest school, an education could mean breaking out of a life sifting through trash. Most of these children live with their families at the Mae Sot rubbish dump, where people sort and collect pieces of discarded plastic and other trash to sell to earn a living.

“Children here have nothing to do,” wrote staff. “Young girls that stay home with nothing to do are often raped by men that are drunk. They need education.”

We are looking forward to supplying the school with a huge amount of needed goods through this shipment, such as furniture, computers, clothing, recreational equipment and other goods.

Thailand snapshot

Population: 69.4 million
Capital: Bangkok
Official languages: Thai
Language spoken in Mae Sot refugee camp: Karen and other dialects

In recent decades, Thailand’s economy has grown at a remarkable rate, reducing poverty from 67% to below 10% in just 30 years. Rural areas and certain communities, like the refugees living along the Burma border, though, have not benefited in the same way as the urban population. Refugees in the border camps are living in desperate poverty, with very little hope of improving their circumstances.
Sources: UNHCR, World Bank

 

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NGO, ‘Rejoice’, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is committed to supporting people of any ethnicity, religion or age who are living with HIV. They provide medical, social and educational support, counselling programmes and community initiatives. They came to Global Hand because, along with this range of services, they have established the ‘Buddies Society of Ipoh’ with the goal of providing comfort to kids affected by HIV. Whether they are HIV+ themselves, or have lost a parent to HIV, or both, the reality is that their lives will now never be the same. The Buddies Society hand makes bears as a gift to these children, providing them a ‘buddy’ in their pain.  We supported ‘matches’ for these Buddy Bears and saw them reach HIV affected kids (see main photo below) through the NGO, Sevac, in Uganda.

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 ...