My name is Katie Glover, I’m officially at the three-week mark of my internship at the Good Lab and so it’s about time I got started posting. I recently completed my second year at Queen’s University with a major in Global Development Studies, the Good Lab has been kind enough to take me under their wing for an 8-week internship in May and June of this summer. I grew up in Seoul and Hong Kong – living in Hong Kong for 10 years or just about half of my entire life (so far) – and it’s been great to be home while I take a break from life at university.
This is the first crowdfunding-style event I have attended or been a part of organizing, it’s a far cry from the type of events I normally attend at school so it was a nice change of pace. I was responsible for communicating with the wholesalers, as this was a self-catered event, Culina HK did an excellent job and was extremely accommodating with their services considering we ordered the food only two days in advance. I quickly realized I had overestimated my knowledge of cheese and deli meats but it was nothing that a little bit of googling couldn’t solve – the end result was a larger quantity than expected and at a much more reasonable price than you would find at any supermarket. On the day of the event, I was lucky enough to try my hand at catering: we came to the decision that allowing the guests to serve themselves might turn into a bit of a mess and chose to divvy up the food in preparation for the guest’s arrival – I received a number of compliments, including a business card, in response to my “catering services”.
Growing up in Hong Kong, I rarely witnessed much of a community atmosphere, outside of the one at Hong Kong International School. While initially a little intimidating, it was great to see so many people from different industries, neighbourhoods and cultures come together for this event. I was impressed with the energy in the room and the overall enthusiasm for donating. It was a surprising change from the fast-paced, competitive nature that Hong Kong is so often reduced to.
Almost 100 members of the Hong Kong community came together to lend their ears and and their wallets to a crowdfunding event for three worthy causes. Co-hosted by HK+Acumen, UnLtd, ERM-HK Foundation and Simmons and Simmons, “Filanthropy” – the second of it’s kind – featured Free to Run, MicroForests and Resolve which aim to address a series of social issues in Hong Kong. Events like “Filanthropy” typically have two major objectives: to generate funding and to increase awareness. So, I’ll provide a brief introduction of each beneficiary of the evening.
Free to Run
Free to Run is an organization built on the premise of “empowerment through sport”. The goal is to enable refugees and provide opportunities for learning and self growth through a study and mentorship program, encourage confidence and equality through both these programs and sport programs, as well as engage participants in the actual design of the programs. In Hong Kong, refugees receive only HKD$1500 per month per adult for housing and HKD$40 per day for food. They also do not have the right to work or volunteer to further enhance their status. The limited funds and limited opportunities available make organizations like Free to Run crucial to the welfare of the refugee community in Hong Kong.
If you would like to know more about Free to Run:
MicroForests is an organization that aims to empower disadvantaged women in Hong Kong – single mothers, new immigrants, etc. – through a “Life Transformation Training Program” which prepares them for a variety of job opportunities within the MicroForest company.
MicroForest conducts an array of workshops, such as: Team Building, Body-Mind-Spirit Enhancement, CSR, Education on Green Sustainability, Social Innovation and Family Bonding. Each workshop focuses on different skills and outcomes, but they are incorporated into the process of creating one’s own self-sustainable MicroForest (pictured below). Throughout the year-long “Life Transformation Training”, women are not only taught how to make these creations but also the skills necessary to share their knowledge and present themselves in a professional setting with confidence. They are then introduced into the MicroForest workforce with a number of job opportunities available, including: workshop facilitator, courier for delivery, clerical work for sales order and designer for artwork.
If you would like to learn more about MicroForests:
Resolve is an acronym for: Rights, Equality, Solidarity, Organization, Leadership, Voice, Empowerment – the guiding principles of this inaugural Fellowship with the goal of empowering ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.The need for such a fellowship was
partially inspired by Ifzal Zaffar, a Hong Kong police officer, who was able to prevent a man from committing suicide because he spoke Urdu – he was dubbed a “hero” in the Hong Kong community. However, Zaffar’s story provided a stark contrast to the typical representation of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. The fellowship aims to combat what Victoria Wisniewski Otero – the project’s creator – calls “a vicious cycle of disempowerment”.
There are a number of barriers in Hong Kong that prevent the inclusion of ethnic minorities. As a result, the fellowship is not only open to minorities but any youths who feel they could positively contribute to the mission. Similar organizations such as Campaign Bootcamp and The Advocacy Academy have found success among youth in the UK. There is a growing pressure among millennials to involve themselves in catalyzing change – this was demonstrated in Hong Kong during the infamous 2014 Umbrella Revolution. These programs enable younger generations and prepare the future leaders of the world as they tackle injustice within their communities.
As this was my first Crowdfunding event, I was not quite sure what to expect but the general layout is as follows: after a brief networking period, each charity is given the opportunity to briefly introduce their organization and their mission as well as a quick Q&A session. Each spokesperson is then asked to leave the room while participants have the option to contribute. Upon purchasing a ticket, each participant commits themselves to a minimum of HKD$100 donation but as the wine was poured and the night went on, people got increasingly generous. What’s more, the energy and comradery in the room was evident as there was a sense of collective effort in the donations to these three organizations. Towards the end of the night, it was announced that Environmental Resources Management (ERM-HK) would generously match the donations from the event – culminating in a grand total of almost HKD$75,000 for the entire evening. Overall, “Filanthropy” successfully facilitated the three organization’s efforts to spread their message among like-minded individuals and generate funding to further support these efforts. I had little to no expectations for this type of event and I was astounded by the generosity of the attendants, what a great experience to be a part of!