Charity shows reality of poverty

Crossroads Foundation sets up 'global village' to acquaint people with plight of downtrodden

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 November, 2012, 4:58am

A local charity is giving Hongkongers the chance to see what daily life is like for the poor and downtrodden.

The Crossroads Foundation has set up a "global village" as a microcosm of world needs.

Based at an old army base in Tuen Mun opposite the Gold Coast shopping precinct, the village shows different situations facing the world's poor. For now, visitors can experience refugee and poverty programmes. But this is only the start.

"Initial designs are now in the planning for an earthquake simulation where you will be able to experience the equivalent of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake and afterwards enter a disaster scene such as you would have seen after the Sichuan earthquake in 2008. You'd be surrounded by rubble and smoke," said David Begbie, director of experiential programmes at Crossroads, including Global Village.

"There's also a war zone planned to help people understand issues about landmines and child soldiers. Another concept we're working on is human trafficking."

Begbie said the organisation was in discussion with the government over this development and negotiations had been going well. The refugee and poverty programmes Crossroads had already run had been a huge success and this was why it planned to expand, he said.

Crossroads provides experiential learning for many students in Hong Kong, including 240,000 senior-secondary students, 300,000 primary-school pupils, 35,000 children attending international schools and 70,000 university students. Corporate outings are also very successful.

"Now you can actually experience life in a slum or a refugee camp, but what doesn't exist yet is the full global village where you can just walk in and see the needs of the world," Begbie said.

"There's a breadth of issues we are working on. We're looking to create an experiential humanitarian centre."

David Begbie's parents Malcolm and Sally are founders of the Crossroads Foundation. Last month they were appointed Officers of the Order of Australia by Paul Tighe, Australia's consul general to Hong Kong and Macau, for their charity work.

The Global Village venture hopes to give local and international students a global perspective and compassion for world issues. It offers programmes both in Chinese and English.

Crossroads receives donations from organisations and individuals in Hong Kong.

Half the money is distributed to people in need in Hong Kong and the rest to more than 60 other countries.