Posts Tagged With: Crossroads

I’m still alive, and on my way to somewhere new.

Just checking in from the cone of silence to let you know that I’ve enjoyed hanging out in the UK since I left France in late July.  I’ve pottered about in Manchester, relaxed in a couple of lovely coastal towns in Wales, explored Bristol (home of an excellent hot air balloon fiesta), and then returned to London town.

In London, I spent a week or so helping the fine folk from CrossroadsGlobal Hand team run a “Struggle for Survival” simulation, managed to fit in visits to a couple of musicals and a few iconic sights, watched a lot of amazing sport on television, and have spent much of the rest of my time scouring the outdoors/travel shops of London for the kit I’ll need for the next chapter of the adventure… in India!

Tomorrow I’m flying to India where I’ll spend 3 months as volunteer logistics crew on an expedition with Raleigh International.  I’m feeling quite daunted, not least about having to fit all this new kit into my backpack!  But am looking forward to getting involved in some community development work ‘on the ground’ to see what that’s like.  And I’ve been getting quite excited about the difference toilets can make to local communities… You’ll probably be hearing more about that over coming months!

I’m hoping there’ll be sufficient internet access for me to be able to update you on my personal journey as the adventure unfolds, but just in case, here’s a link to another blog:  This is the official Raleigh blog for all their India expeditions.  My expedition is called ’12J’ and our adventures as a team will start appearing there soon.  You can get in touch with me by leaving comments on the expedition blog if it turns out I’m de-internetted for a while!

And with that, it’s back to the packing challenge!  Hope you’re all well.





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Meanwhile, at Crossroads…

I feel like I’ve posted a lot of touristy things (which is all fun and interesting, and there’s plenty more where that came from), but wanted to let you know that in between the weekends of Hong Kong adventures, there has been lots happening at Crossroads where I came to spend the bulk of my time.

In just the last few weeks, containers have been packed full of furniture / clothes / blankets / hospital beds / school desks and chairs / computer equipment / cooking and hygiene kits / all sorts of good useful stuff to be shipped around the world to places like the Philippines, Nicaragua, Uganda (2 containers!), and Vietnam, and all kinds of goods continue to be processed and packed up ready for more upcoming shipments that will help all kinds or organisations doing great work in places of great need.


One of the containers had FABBAS written on the side in large letters, so you can imagine the kind of music I sang a lot that day as I walked around the site looking after our many volunteers 🙂


I was passing the loading area last Saturday just in time to snap a picture of these ingenious garden furniture wheelchairs while they were waiting to be packed into the container for Vietnam.  A plastic outdoor chair.  Some bike wheels (in this case I think they’re actual wheel-chair wheels with the extra rim).  Some straps and harnessing.  Bam – wheelchair.  Imagine the difference that could make to one person’s life.  To their family.  A community.  The effect multiplies so quickly, for such a small initial cost.

While all that goodness has been heading outwards through Hong Kong’s enormous port area, many local people in Hong Kong who are struggling for many reasons have come to Crossroads in order to pick out furniture and electrical appliances and small household goods that will help them immeasurably in their own situations.  About half the goods that come into Crossroads is redistributed locally, within Hong Kong.  This is a hugely important part of the work here.

Meanwhile, generous people – individuals and businesses – have donated all kinds of interesting stuff for us to redistribute to those who need it.  It’s not always immediately obvious how all the items will be useful (50 karaoke machines for example, or a single carousel horse – sans carousel).  And sometimes it is a huge effort to get the goods here (like the entire contents of 26 serviced apartments – had to be picked up 3 days after we got the initial call as the new fit out was happening on the 4th day.  If we couldn’t take it, the whole lot would have been thrown out!)  And sometimes the processing required seems Everest-like (2 x 40 foot containers of hand sanitizer – donated as it had been labelled incorrectly and shipped here all the way from Antwerp.  We will relabel every single one of the thousands of bottles before we send it all out again to many willing recipients.)

But always, a way is made where one is needed.  We can only do this because cheerfully willing volunteers from the local community continue to appear to help the much smaller number who are here full time.  Some come regularly for years, others occasionally and some just once.  It has been both incredibly challenging and a great joy to be part of that process – meeting the people, and finding tasks for them that will match both their skills and abilities, and our needs.

And while the Hong Kong tourist-adventuring has been great, it’s my time at Crossroads that I’ll carry away with me from here when I go.  All too soon.

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Stop Press!

I have much to tell you about how I spent the Chinese New Year long weekend (awesome crazy markets, street parade, fireworks), and the Australia Day celebrations here (flags, vegemite, damper, terrible aussie slang and a screening of “Australia”), but in briefer news…

…in case you missed it in the Australia Day honours list, today Malcolm and Sally Begbie were both made Officers of the Order of Australia.  Malcolm and Sally are the founders and directors of Crossroads Foundation, which is where I am!  So, as you can imagine, the team here is thrilled.

You can read a bit more about it here (although there is an error in the article – the Begbie’s started Crossroads in 1995, not 2005 as stated).  Also featured on the Crossroads website here.

If you’re the kind of person who gives thanks, then do that for these wonderful humble servants who continue to help so many through their work.

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Volunteering with the volunteers

While I’m in Hong Kong, I’m visiting a group called Crossroads Foundation.  I have had a number of friends come here over the years, so I’ve been in touch with their work for a while.  It’s very exciting to be here in person – see the site and meet the people I’ve been hearing about in monthly newsletters for more than 10 years!

Crossroads is operated by a team of full time unpaid volunteers, which includes people who are here ‘permanently’, and those (like me) who breeze in for shorter periods – from a few weeks to a few years.  There are about 60 people on full time team at the moment.  None of these people are paid – all their living expenses etc come from other generous financial supporters.

This is not nearly enough people do all the work that goes on here, so we rely heavily on ‘community volunteers’.  These are local individuals, school and corporate groups and occasional international teams.  Some come regularly, and some just once or very occasionally.

I tell you this, because while I’m here I’m helping out in the volunteers office, where two of us try to work out who is coming in each week, and where to place them according to what work needs to be done.  It involves a fair bit of admin, being welcoming and friendly to all the volunteers and knowing lots about everything that’s going on around the place.  Very importantly, it also involves developing good relationships with all the department managers so you can variously tell them there’s no volunteers available today to do the job they want done, or cajole them into taking lots of  volunteers and finding worthwhile tasks for them to do when they may not have expected any!  It’s busy, interesting and people-intensive, and I’m enjoying it so far.

I’m working with a lovely lady called Mandy, who most recently lived in Darwin, so the heating in our office is always ‘tropical’.  Mind you, for the last three days (count them, three!) there has been blue sky and intermittent sun here (amazing!) so there was actually a fleeting moment of having the office window open today!

Flowers and fruit trees are decorating the site at the moment ahead of  Chinese New Year – a major festival in Hong Kong starting this weekend

Reception / volunteers (that’s me!) / Silk Road Cafe / Global Handicrafts shop… all this way. And note the blue sky in the background!

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