Global children's charity spreads message in Hong Kong
SOS Children's Villages focuses on nurturing needy youngsters and keeping families together
Prompted by an e-mail two years ago from a concerned Hongkonger, a global children's charity has set up a branch in the city.
SOS Children's Villages had its official launch in Hong Kong late last month and enlisted the help of players from English Premier League soccer club Manchester City, who were playing in the city, to raise its profile.
SOS helps more than 1.6 million children and adults in 133 countries; in Asia it has 500 programmes that benefit about 200,000 people.
In mainland China it has 10 "villages", which are groupings of about a dozen homes.
The charity targets orphans or children who are neglected by their parents. It also helps parents struggling to look after their children so as to keep the family unit intact.
Meryl Davies, director of the Hong Kong Friends of SOS Children's Villages, said that while there was no office in Hong Kong, it meant people helping the charity could feel more connected to the work of the organisation.
She said there were no SOS-funded programmes in Hong Kong but it was a possibility.
"I have been approached by somebody who would like to do projects here but that's for the future, not now," Davies said. "But the way SOS grows is by somebody in that place saying that our model would work there."
Davies singled out Briton Alasdair Boulding as the reason why SOS was now operating in Hong Kong.
"He was sponsoring children with us through the UK and he came to us and said why didn't we do something in Hong Kong?," she said.
Boulding, who lived and worked in Hong Kong for 10 years but is now retired, said it was the right time for SOS to come to the city.
"There are a lot of generous people in Hong Kong and Asia is now a real focus for the world," he said.
"I've got two adult children and they have all these gadgets that nobody really needs like iPod, iPads and PlayStations, but when you come to Asia, you see people who have absolutely nothing and are in extreme poverty."
Vincent Kompany, captain of Manchester City, who has worked with the charity for almost a decade, said there were many ways people could lend a hand, such as donating money, volunteering or helping raise the charity's profile.
"Children in Hong Kong and around the world need help and I urge people to get involved in any way they can," Kompany said.