SHIPMENT FEEDBACK

Children from mountainous tribal villages in Vietnam come top of the list for the wrong reasons. According to UNICEF, they’re the most likely children in the country never to attend school, and those who do, tend to drop out sooner than their urban peers. In the mountainous district of Quang Nam, in Vietnam, many families are very poor. Parents are eager for their children to get ahead, and escape poverty, and they know that education is the key.

Crossroads shipped to a part of Quang Nam province where most of the village schools operate out of temporary buildings without proper desks and chairs, and it’s not an environment that makes it easy to study.

These villagers decided they wanted to rally together and write a different story for their children. “Together with a little support from the government, they built some good school rooms,” wrote our partners, who run projects in the villages. “But they were stuck for a source to buy desks and chairs.”

“Your shipment enlightened their hope!” – Crossroads’ partner in Vietnam

School desks and chairs, health and medical equipment, computers, office furniture, school supplies and more, made a significant impact on the work of our partners in Vietnam, who estimate the shipment impacted the lives of around 2,300 people.

Along with educational goods, toys and medical equipment, the shipment we loaded included a quantity of excellent school desks and chairs donated by Hong Kong schools. They were able to share 100 sets of the school furniture with this village school, bringing it to life.

“Your shipment enlightened their hope!” wrote the staff. “The teachers, children and the government thank you for bringing help on time!”

We are so grateful to all who made this shipment possible, through funding, donating goods, and volunteer efforts.


ONE STUDENT’S STORY OF HOPE UNLOCKED

‘Y’ is 21 years old and although she’s an orphan, she has aged out of the orphanage system, meaning she now has to find her path in life on her own.
Thankfully, Crossroads partners are supporting and mentoring Y, and were excited to learn that she had successfully passed the entrance exams to a degree in hospitality at a big city university. She needed a computer to keep up with her studies and to start learning computer skills, but had no way to afford one herself. When Crossroads’ shipment arrived, our partners were able to give one of the computers from the container to Y, helping her study and learn, and work towards a better future for herself!

Reference No. S5023

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Huong grew up in a rural Vietnamese village where the odds were against her. Her father had died when she was little and her mother, dependent on seasonal earnings from their little family farm, needed to bring up five children alone. “All I can give you is education,” she told them. “Study, study, study!”

Huong did study hard, graduated and then won an internship with a major company. She quickly climbed the corporate ladder. She never forgot, though, how it had felt to be a small village girl with big dreams and, in time, started a business employing other young women trapped as she was. She chose to specialise in the art of quilling: crafting coloured sheets of paper into extraordinary shapes.

 

Huong started with just 10 women, but the enterprise has now grown to 300 staff, never straying from the goal of paying a fair wage to every employee. She also gives maternity leave and healthcare benefits and strictly limits working hours to avoid exploitation.

In the five years since she started, 2,000 young employees have been trained, most of them women from rural provinces. “Of course, this is a business,” she says, “but the way I look at it, it’s not just about the bottom line. It’s about how many jobs I can create for young women, to give them financial independence and a stable family.”

Today, Quilling Card’s handmade products are hot sellers in our Global Handicrafts shop. We sell a large variety of their greeting cards, as well as quilled earrings, and quilling kits. We were also excited to choose them as the producer for our official 2017 Christmas cards, sending thousands to Crossroads’ supporters and friends around the world.

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Many have read the unforgettable story of Christina Noble. She lived in dire poverty as a young child until, after her mother died, she and her three siblings were sent to separate orphanages. In time she ended up homeless, living on the street. It was a miracle that she survived. As an adult, her own childhood suffering has fueled a deep passion for other children battling maltreatment, abuse and poverty. In 1989 she went to Vietnam to care for such children there and has dedicated her life to children’s rights.

When a company told us they had computers available for donation in Vietnam, we offered it on our Global Hand website. The Christina Noble Foundation received them (see main photo below) and used them for the children’s library in their Sunshine School: a great name for kids who would, otherwise, have a very dark childhood.

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Vietnam has come a long way from its earlier history of suffering, but there are still parts of the country which battle hardship.The wider Quang Nam province is ranked as one of the most impoverished areas in Vietnam. Many families here are barely surviving on less than US$1 dollar a day per person. We are partnering with NGOs there to help. As one puts it:

“The growth Vietnam has had over the past ten years has been tremendous and we at Children’s Hope In Action (CHIA) support children, their families and their communities to continue this growth to build better futures for everyone.”

CHIA runs extensive services providing medical care, support for those with disabilities, educational opportunities, along with water, sanitation and housing.

This year, they received two superb corporate donations through Global Hand. 8,000 women’s sweaters which they distributed to people in the mountainous north (see the main photo below), where winter can be cold, and 2,245 pairs of magnificent, household name shoes (anonymity requested by both donors) in the villages too. CHIA, as their name suggests, are people in action.

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IMG_5578It will come as no surprise that Vietnam’s rural villages see many trapped in poverty. What is a surprise, perhaps, in today’s world, is that this grip is much stronger on women than men. As a young girl, Huong took every step she could to change that story. The odds were not in her favour. Her father had died when she was little and her mother, dependent on seasonal earnings from their little family farm, needed to bring up five children alone. “All I can give you is education,” she told her children. “Study, study, study!”

Huong did. So did her five siblings. Three of them, all boys, received scholarships for medical school. Huong applied for a scholarship as well but was told ‘a girl from the village doesn’t need to go to college.’  She eyed her options. She knew girls from the village who had left to find their own way forward, only to fall into sex work in neighbouring Cambodia. She knew of others, too, who had ended up working in a dark, dusty lacquerware factory: places where workers are often in poor health and where wages are so low that they provide no way to get ahead.

Huong’s choices were bleak until, miraculously, an organisation agreed to sponsor her tertiary education. She was on her way. She studied hard, graduated and then won an internship with a major company. She moved from strength to strength in the business world, never forgetting how it felt to be a small village girl with big dreams.

To that end, Huong has taken another step in her battle to see doors opened for other young women who are trapped as she was. She has found a niche business in papercrafts: specialising in the art of quilling greeting cards. She started with just 10 women employees, but has now grown to 300 staff, never straying from the goal of paying a fair wage to every employee. Her wages are 25% higher than the local rate, but she wants good working conditions for her employees. She also gives maternity leave and healthcare benefits and strictly limits working hours to avoid exploitation._J3A1716

In the five years since Huong started the business, 2,000 young employees have been trained, most of them women from rural provinces. “Of course, this is a business,” she says, “but the way I look at it, it’s not about the bottom line. It’s about how many jobs I can create for young women, to give them financial independence and a stable family.”

It was our joy to support Quilling Card this year when we chose them as the producer for our 2017 Christmas cards. They’ve done a beautiful, professional job, testament to a woman with great vision and great values.

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One of the tenets of our fair trade principles is care for the environment. In our cafe and marketplace, we sell goods that are eco friendly as well as powerful in generating income for people in need.

The creativity of our producers leaves us in awe as they recycle and upcycle.

• In Uganda, for example, victims of the war years were strapped for materials to generate income. They roll, colour and varnish newspaper to produce jewellery so elegant none of our shoppers can guess the source material.

• In Mongolia and Myanmar, artisans upcycle glass shard to produce Christmas ornaments.

• In Cambodia, in the hands of craftsmen, rice sacks turn into funky bags, large and small.

• In India, saries are upcycled to provide decorative features on hessian bags.

• In Vietnam, crisp wrappers turn into tableware

Many of those farmers and suppliers also focus on organic products: tea, coffee, jams, cocoa, chocolates and spices.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Shop Now!

Browse Global Handicrafts’ full online range here or visit our shop at Crossroads Village to walk through our colourful global marketplace, with even more handmade delights from around the world, all of which care for the people who made them.

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These items were made by rural craftspeople in Duyen Thai, a picturesque Vietnamese village south of Hanoi. The area is well-known for its wide range of lacquerware products and people of Duyen Thai have been engaged in the industry for many years.

Au Lac Designs works in Vietnam as a fair trade organisation, helping traditional craft producers such as those from Duyen Thai develop their small businesses and create sustainable development for the rural poor.

Your purchase of Au Lac Designs products supports Vietnamese craftspeople and their families.

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In a workshop in Hue, Vietnam, two rows of women are intent on their work. Fine, brightly-coloured thread and embroidery needles fly through the lustrous silk, as patterns of flowers and swirls come to life.

Even as they concentrate, the women have time to talk and laugh in the well-lit workspace. It is a world away from their small, traditional homes, where many of these women live in poverty.

This is Vinh Hoa, a social enterprise in Hue, which has taken the rich embroidery and silkwork traditions of Vietnam’s ancient cultural capital, and used them to train and employ women who might otherwise have no way to find steady, safe, fair employment.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMany of Vinh Hoa’s staff can’t do fine embroidery work in their homes. A lack of electricity means the dim lighting weakens their eyesight badly. After 2-3 years working in such conditions, Vinh Hoa staff told us, the women’s eyes can be so damaged that they can’t continue embroidering at all.

In the workshop, though, Vinh Hoa has set up workbenches with bright down-lighting, protecting the workers’ eyes, giving them a social meeting point, and ensuring a longer, brighter future as skilled artisans!

Crossroads’ Global Handicrafts shop is dedicated to promoting and selling fair trade products from all over the world, like homewares, gifts, clothes, toys and the scarves made by the women at Vinh Hoa.

Our shop sells several of Vinh Hoa’s exquisite, hand-embroidered scarves, with two available online: Chrysanthemum scarf and Floral purple scarf, and more in-store.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Browse Global Handicrafts’ full online range here or visit our shop at Crossroads Village to walk through our colourful global marketplace, with even more handmade delights from around the world, all of which care for the people who made them.

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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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