Posted by: Sam Olsen | March 13, 2012

Hong Kong Cares!

Saturday morning saw me up and out pretty early (not as early as Sam, but his was more up and IN early as he returned crashing about from Wan Chai as the sun was rising).  I trotted down to Central and, having nearly been run over on a four-lane road, managed to catch the 962 bus. This is an example of HK ‘express service’. Stops four or five times on the Island then whizzes through the tunnel into Kowloon, past the Tsing Yi bridge (think Humber, people who know), and onwards onwards up towards China. I didn’t go that far, but disembarked at the Hong Kong Gold Coast. This is a nice complex with a marina, shops, hotel and a few restaurants. They’ve even built a beach using sand from nearby Hainan Island. The air was clean, and quite a few gweilos were in sight. 

 

Packed

I wasn’t there for leisure, however. I was on an EV mission (Leading the Way in Asia, Africa and the Middle East often appears to mean reducing everything to intials). EV  = Employee Volunteering. Organised by one of the local CROs (country risk officers), I’d basically had to tag along as our team is a bit small to muster our own event.  We congregated at a place called Crossroads HK, which is a really amazing charity in an old Gurkha army barracks. Crossroads’ basic tenet is simple, to put those with things (of which there are many in HK), in touch with those in need of things. For example, large office in HK renovating, gets rid of 30 computer monitors, which get sent over to a school in Indonesia. Hotel refurbishing, passes on 12 single beds to be given to families in need in HK. Or, in my case, 400 pairs of Hush Puppy shoes got rejected back to the manufacturer because of a design fault, and we unpacked and repacked the lot to send off to Cameroon and Uganda.  

Crossroads have also set up various ‘experiences’ such as living in a slum, becoming a refugee, etc., that they run for schools and corporations to get a sense of how you’d cope in these situations. Most importantly there is also a cafe and a shop. So many people come to volunteer on a really regular basis, and the atmosphere is great! We had two schoolgirls aged 15 (one Brit, one local), a nice Moroccan/Chinese girl called Yasmin, the ‘boss’ of the clothing department a very maternal Indian lady, and another regular HK local. The music played and we unpacked and repacked, for the entire day. Absolutely knackering. And it did make me think about the poor people who had actually made the darned shoes and packed them in the first place.  If I found it tough going for a day, they must be sent mad with it 6 days a week, 12 hours a day (and no doubt I am looking on the very optimistic side with those numbers).

Well, at least my conscience is temporarily appeased. Definitely keen to take the boys up there for some good organic veggie food in the cafe. 

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