Thursday, 24 November 2011

Dinner with Dr. Catherine Bragg, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs

CEDARS has kindly invited the representatives of IMPACT FOR PEACE to join the dinner with Dr. Catherine Bragg and Dr. Albert Chau after the lecture given by Dr. Bragg.

The lecture has covered the current state of the humanitarian system; provide an over view of its evolution over the last few years, its challenges, and what it is like to be a humanitarian worker.
The lecture has also focused on the crisis in the Horn of Africa and how each person can help stop the famine in Somalia.

All participates have actively shared their opinions regarding the international humanitarian work during the dinner. If you would also like to have such a great chance to join this kind of activities, come and join us!

Dr Catherine Bragg - Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs
Mr Yannick Martin - Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator
Ms Kirsten Mildren - Regional Public Information Officer

Prof Ceci Chan - Associate Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences
Dr Albert Chau - Dean of Student Affairs
Dr Eadaoin Hui - Faculty of Education

Mr Elliot Leung - Teaching Assistant (Area: Global Citizenship, Youth and Globalization)

Cheryl Chui - Sichuan 512 Rural Recover Project + Children Policies
Saidi Ding - Beyond the Pivot
Eileen Lee - Hong Kong Alliance Against AIDS
Chloe Tsang - Impact for Peace
Vivien Tsui - Project Little Dream

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Brochure For HKU Service 100 Fair


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

End: Key takeouts - Capacity building vs. Creating unnecessary desires

End : Key Takeouts, Charlotte:

When launching a service project, providers must strive to avoid adverse effects, we suggest they should pay attention to the 4 recommendations below:

(This's a summary of what we've discussed previously, look up here Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

1) Know What to help, Prioritize & Match your Skills  - Always do a thorough & truthful needs assessment on the population / community you're reaching out at.  For instance, your team have a good mix of engineering and humanities backgrounds while the community concerned is seriously plagued with bad water system.  Although your team is capable of teaching English and many other skills, it is clear that the needs urgently lie in improving water sanitation.  When the basics are fixed, your team may think of stretching to other aspects.  Just step in their shoes!

2) Establish Baseline, Set Goals & Measure Result - be specific about what your project strive to achieve, for instance, setting a goal to increase ease of access to clean water at an affordable cost, in a setting where currently the cost is an evident barrier and have resulted in lower-than-average productivity level and health issues as shown by various indicators: shortened life-expectency, infant mortality, school absenteeism, ...etc Then during different phases of your project you would need to measure the impacts of your project, by evaluation/satisfaction survey with recipients as well as correlation studies on relevant objective indicators.  Don't be afraid of making corrections to your project to bring it back in line with the goals

3) Stewardship - The ultimate aim is to increase the communities' capacity to grow on their own.  Therefore, your role is one of an enabler or a moderator to help them carefully identify the steps they can take to achieve the goals in their interest.  In the process, you assist them in a responsible manner, to develop the domestic resources, such as people talents, raw materials, information pools & channels.  By guiding them with best practices throughout the system, you look for long-term sustainable outcomes rather than one-off result

4) Build a sense of Engagement - Encourage two-way contributions by always attaching strings to services provided.  On the national level, humanitarian aids traditionally come in a package with a state's democratization progress.  Similarly, in micro-scale projects like ours, always attach "strings" - which can be either for a complimentary developmental goal, or simply a contribution back into the system to keep the project up and running sustainably.  For instance, you may ask water project participants to attend a complimentary class on basic health / women's health, or/and ask them to learn the skills of installing simple water sanitation device and let's say, set a target for them to help install the device in 10 other households.  This sense of engagement is key to reinforcing stewardship and hence, fostering long-term change in a community

Any comments?


Part 4 - Capacity building vs. Creating unnecessary desires

Conversation between Charlotte, Sean & Sarabe

Part 4 Sarabe:

(This's just part of the series on fighting adverse effects in capacity building: Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Key takeouts)

I love Sean's reply! I should save it!
Yes... I forgot to add something too... Whenever we implement these service programmes, either to benefit the students or the locals (well, both to be exact) - we need to make sure that we're not a charity who is giving away services for 'free'. We must ask them to contribute as well, such as negotiating with them to do soemthing for us in return. Let me give you an example, say if you're going to a village in Africa where women have to walk 2 hours every day to get/carry water.. and you are going to build a water system in their village so that they don't need to walk so much to get the water - it's great.. but we shouldn't just 'give' them this. What you should do is say, make sure that they attend a healthcare class that you're also organising. So that they know they are responsible for the contribution too.

Similarly.. students should never be 100% subsidised for a service trip.. they should pay at least 60% of the costs so that they will well.. 'treasure' the experience more.  And that will also screen out the applicants who are doing it cos the trip is cheap.

What I won't do is go to a village and show them all these technologies like an SLR camera or give the kids I don't know.. PSP or something. I know it's an extreme example... but I'm echoing what Sean said... isn't this what many NGOs and humanitarians are striving for? Education! and to know more about the world and how it works so they won't be exploited or be at risk of health damage without them realising it themselves..


Part 3 - Capacity building vs. Creating unnecessary desires

Conversation between Charlotte, Sean & Sarabe

Part 3 Sean:

(This's just part of the series on fighting adverse effects in capacity building: Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Key takeouts)

In my opinion, she is partially true as we always need to understand what the people really need, so that we won't provide some unnecessary desire to them. And what's more important, as I have said before, we shouldn't hand in a gift to them, instead we are just a moderator, to inspire them running the program themselves after we left.

Maybe we should develop a system, that when the beneficiaries earn some money becos of the skills they learnt, they have to contribute back to the program. Let's say to contribute time teaching in the centre, or donate money back to let the program sustainable!! Then they won't depend on foreign aids anymore.

Let's think about back to 90s when we don't have computer....and we were simple. When the computer comes, did they increase our hopelessness?? Of course not, since computer allows more efficient and organized working performance. And it allows us to see what's going on in this world, other than just their own community.

I disagree with "being ignorant is better than having desires to strive for", it depends on the "desire" is basic or extra. I really think Education, Literacy, Livelihood, Sanitation, Health, Global citizenship...are basic things, so let them strive for it!! if we ignore their basic desire, it would probably result in more disappointment towards foreign aids!!

I hope we all see how the imbalance this world is. We can take an easy step to just ignore it and live our "happy" life. But it would take much tougher steps with courage to narrow down such imbalance.....So let's find out what really they need and combat it~

Be optimistic about our world!!


Part 2 - Capacity building vs. Creating unnecessary desires

Conversation between Charlotte, Sean & Sarabe

Part 2 Sarabe:

(This's just part of the series on fighting adverse effects in capacity building: Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Key takeouts)

I think she has a valid point about not to create unnecessary desires, as to what unnecessary desire is I cannot say what they are exactly. IT seems to be a very pessimistic thought though

But I don't think that teaching them about computer software to creat hopelessness and disappointment - is that to say that they should not know anything about the world? Perhaps by knowing more about the outside world, it will inspire them to work harder and know how important education in.

In saying so, I think it's a dichotomy when working to improve poverty. We don't know about their happiness level at the moment. But say, for example, a poor village (with basic necessities) are probably really happy and simple, but when outsiders help them by creating say, trade links, then the fact that money gets involved will change them somehwat - so whether they're still happy in the end is a debate.

So it's important to find out what to help and how to do so. There're things that are obvious.. such as launching a water project to a particular village that obviously has bad water system. Things that are closely linked to basic necessities, after that we can go about finding more opportunities to help.


Part 1 - Capacity building vs. Creating unnecessary desires

Conversation between Charlotte, Sean & Sarabe

Part 1 Charlotte:
(This's just part of the series on fighting adverse effects in capacity building: Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Key takeouts)

just wanna share something with you two...yesterday in the evening time I had a casual meeting with a young student, who pointed out something shocking to me, although I'm not sure she was saying that because she really thought so or because she was disappointed that our program was not up to her expectation:

"be careful not to create unnecessary needs among the already poor Indians. I don't know their culture or their society, but are you sure it will help them make a living by teaching them HK-style cooking? think about it, for example, there's currently no such snacks as 'fish ball' in India, but if you bring it in via the project, then you're creating unnecessary desires and products within the community...similarly, teaching them some computer software will also let them see the world more and that will only increase their hopelessness/disappointment about their own poor situation. " she also talked a lot about the harm of careless volunteering...etc

obviously she has a point about the importance of need assessment and really matching their needs, but I found myself unable to agree with her world-view that "being ignorant is better than having desires to strive for" because seems it already assumes the poor is destined to be poor......what do you guys think?


Sean's Sharing - Turning Slumdogs into Millionaire

The reason of organizing this project is tracing back to the summer of 2007, when I joined a Service Learning Program called Project SEE held by General Education Unit, HKU. I was sent to Kolkata, India to work with a local NGO named FOCUS (Forum of Community United in Service) in the theme of Child Rights. Although it was not my first volunteer service trip, India culture definitely had great impact on me. We didn't do much in that trip (only teaching and home visits), however, I don't want the service to be just one-off-deal, and I really see the needs of those children and women striving for education.

Last year I went back to Kolkata and discuss with my friends working in FOCUS on how we could do something that actually benefit those poor family living in slum areas. Then finally we set up a Child Education Sponsorship Program to support educational expenses for 50 children. We found out that it only costs HK$ 300-400 for one year education fees including uniforms, books and stationery. If Hong Kong people can save money from buying 2 sets of clothes or eating out twice a week, we can definitely sponsor more kids to go to school! Before I left Kolkata, we also discussed about the situation of unemployment, and not surprisingly found out it is difficult for high school graduates to find a job. Therefore, we got to consider other ways to assist them.

When I came back to Hong Kong, Charlotte Wong and me founded an organization (not registered yet) called Impact For Peace. We would like to achieve two main goals: Universal Education and Sustainable living Standard Improvement in Third World Countries. We strongly believe when people are willing to share what they have with people who are in need, and create an impact to the friends around, world peace is not too far to reach. Although we can't deal with all the political reasons, we only want to show Love and Care, and that is the most important in mankind.

This Summer Impact For Peace recruited 10 HKU students to continue our work in Kolkata. This time we are focusing on deliver Vocational Skills to women and high school graduates, in order to let them acquire some skills like leather work making and computer utilization etc. This project is sustainable since after HKU students left, those women and graduates are still making the leather bags. We are now planning to set up a fair-trading line so that the money earned from selling their products (in Hong Kong or elsewhere) can be put back into bonus rewarded to the maker, and buying raw materials. We hope you can support our project by buying one leather bag, there are limited stocks in CEDARS office! Come and grab one!!

Next year we would like to organize a similar project in India, if you think you have special talents and you want to share your skills to Indian women and students, please contact us at:

Chloe's Sharing - Turning Slumdogs into Millionaires

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. This is what brings me to India for a 6 weeks service trip.

We all know that there are billions of people living under poverty line but we seldom have the initiative do something for the needy. After watching the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” a few years ago, the pictures of Indian poor’s living conditions stayed in my mind.

In this summer, finally I have got a chance to been to India to explore the situation. Kolkata is famous for Mother Teresa and her Centers while at the same time notorious for its poverty. Besides the poor living condition in the slum area, high unemployment rate is also an issue that's worth concerning. Our programme aims at eradicating poverty by transferring vocation skills to dropout students and uneducated women. Comparing to direct resources distribution, we are hoping that by equipping them with vocational skill, they would be able to improve the standard of living in a long-term and sustainable manner.
Though most of the women in our centre have not been to school, they still have a strong desire to learn in the Women Centre. I was deeply impressed by their attitude and character when I saw how hard they try to absorb new knowledge. It is my honor to have the chance to be their teacher for six weeks.

Another focus of our work is conducting community research in the slum areas and squatter areas. You can never imagine how the environment looks like without stepping into their neighborhood. Without much attention from the general public and the society, there is a vicious cycle of poverty inherented from generations to generations. It is difficult for the children in slum areas to have the chance to leave where they were brought up. I hope the research can address their needs and therefore more helping hands can be given to them.

This service trip is undoubtedly fruitful and rewarding. Though the Indian children and women are not having an abundant life, they are still optimistic and passionate than most of the Hong Kong people. Sometimes I have an impression that we were not going there to teach, but to learn instead. It is such a life-changing experience and I highly recommend HKU students to participate in a local or oversea service trip during the university life.

Chloe Tsang
Faculty of Social Sciences
Major: Government & Laws

Eileen's Sharing - Turning Slumdogs into Millionaire

I'm an ordinary university student who has experienced an unordinary summer in Kolkata India!

This summer, the ten of us from different facilities and with different backgrounds come together and fight for the same goal: to improve the livelihood of the slum people in Kolkata. In the pre-trip session, we tried to apply our knowledge in this program and we learned to stand in the needy's shoes before giving our helping hand.

During the trip, we taught the slum children English and equipped the women with leather work making skills. As what you can imagine, things didn't go on smoothly and we got to change and modify our plan with referring to the limitation in an unfamiliar environment. We learned to communicate with overcoming the language barrier and listen with our heart. You'll definitely understand what the slum people truly need when you do this.

In the post-trip session, we are now arranging for the fair-trade line which helps the slum women to sell there leather work products. What's more, we planned to set up a few stationary donation centers in the school campus in order to collect the unnecessary stationaries from our schoolmates and send them to the slum children in Kolkata.

See what you should, do what you could! You will live a brighter love when you give more.


Eileen Lee
Faculty of Medicine
Major: Chinese Medicine

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Health and sanitation sound important as well

Besides the 10 students from The University of Hong Kong, we are so happy to meet  some friends who would like to carry out different projects in Kolkata alongside with our Vocational Program.

There will be a research carried out on the relationship between School absenteeism and infectious diseases. Our students are required to visit FOCUS’s schools, observe the situation, then assist teachers to carry out the school absenteeism data collection the research. We want to generate data and make precautious measures when there is a pandemic.

Maternal Health and Birth Control projects are also planned to caryr out. Our students have to record video clips of women or family talking about disadvantage of having too many kids, and the importance of birth control. Also record some women about the importance of maternal health and prevention of family abuse, etc. After editing the clips, they will organize talks or workshop to the slum women.

Tthe water sanitation is going to be analyzed, we may proceed the installation of water filter in slum family.

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Sequel - Vocational Skills Transfer Program

Sorry for my laziness to update this blog, but in the last few months, Charlotte and I were working intensely on a new program!! Since I have asked FOCUS staff what kind of jobs can Class 10 graduates look for, they said "Not much". Also the unemployment rate is abnormally high in Kolkata, how can this situation encourage children to go to school??

That's why we think teaching them some life-long skills can help them target on more well-paid job, which is a way to end the poverty cycle.

The aim of the Vocational Skills Transfer Program (VSTP) is to provide an opportunity for HKU students to design and launch various talents development programs for post-Class 10 Indian youngsters.  Designing and managing the project alongside with us and the local partner FOCUS, HKU students are given wonderful opportunities to put into practice their specialized academic knowledge and other talents.  Compared to the popular short term teaching program, this Vocational Skill Transfer Program does more than putting volunteers into routine teaching because it is a career-oriented skill transfer program that pinpoints to the need of Indian society.  Proposed skill transfer courses are:

1.      Computer software (Office, Photoshop, video editing)
2.      Computer hardware (assembling, repairing)
3.      Basic Health Care
4.      Conversational English
5.      Tailoring
6.      Zari Work (Embroidering work) and leather work
7.   Machines Repairing

With an exploding population that grows that 1.548% per year (Wiki, 2009), India is expected to surpass China in 2025 with an estimate of 1.6 billion total population.  Massive and widespread unemployment at 8% (Census, December 2007) only means the chance for a stable job is slim for those less competitive secondary school graduates and illiterate women in particular.  In view of this, the above mentioned program is thus proposed for the benefit of both HKU students and Indian community if certain practical skills can be shared among them.

Our program has just started!!!
The 1st group: 6 June - 15 July
The 2nd group: 11 July - 19 August

If you want to support our program, please send us email:


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Updates of Sponsored Children

Here are the photos we received from FOCUS about the sponsored children, all 50 children are now going to schools, the donations go directly to cover the school fees, uniforms, books and stationaries. We are glad to receive such positive feedback from India counterpart.

Now our students from University of Hong Kong has arrived in Kolkata, besides carry out the Vocational Skills Transfer Program, they will also moderate this Child Education Sponsorship Program, and looks for furthur extension of such meaningful karma!!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Impact For Peace on Youtube

Maybe these videos are quite unflattered, they are the original tapes I recorded when I visited the sponsored children. Authentic and true!!

Please have a look and give us comment!! It's my very first time to be a journalist.....

Monday, 14 February 2011

Change a Life Children Sponsorship Program

Due to my promise to my FOCUS friends last time, I decided to go back with a more concrete plan. Through email, I asked Jamil, Biplab and other teachers to pick out 50 most needed children especially girls who wanted to be enrolled in Government school or at the edge of dropping out from school due to financial difficulties. After I received all 50 children profile in later Dec 2010, we started our action by sending email to our friends and asked for their support! Once I arrived Kolkata again in Jan 2011, I visited the families of all 50 children, conducted interviews, took photos as well as video to capture the reality of how difficult the poors are living. Thanks Biplab who acted as translator and accompanied me to visit all the families.

During the visits, I revealed the actual situation of ordinary Indians lives. The whole family, usually more than 6 members live together in tiny rooms (20 sq. meter on average), with shared kitchen and toilet with their neighbors. In the bedroom, there is only one bed, parents always let their kids sleep on the bed while they lay on the floor or under the bed. These kind of small flat rent about 600-1000 rupees per month, but the average family monthly income is just around 3000 rupees. That is not the worst cases, I also witnessed the street families, who are living just under a shelter of cloths and wooden planks. I thought they would be embarrassed and felt insulted when I visited them, however, they still carry smiles and didn’t look as desperate as I thought. Maybe that is the optimistic we should learn.

Concerning about the educational system, there are also divided into kindergarten, primary (Class 1-4), secondary (Class 5-10), high school (Class 11-12) and then college or university. Indian Government promise to provide free education until Class 10, but yet not compulsory. The reasons of parents who are not willing to send their kids to schools are either they cannot afford the extra cost or require them to work. The former reason is more reasonable as there are not much child labour within cities. So, what are the extra costs? Uniform, textbooks, stationeries, extra-curricular activities...etc., which can cost around 1500-2000 rupees per year. Although you will say it can be covered by a monthly family salary, you may forget he or she is not the only child!

However, one thing I found it quite ridiculous is that when the parents can afford sending their kids to formal Government school, they also send them to private tuition which costs around 200-300 rupees per month, it even add more burden to the family. They don’t think the teachers in Government school are teaching well, and the academic result reflects students taking private tuition are achieving higher marks. Therefore, it becomes a trend. I argued with Biplab that I found it quite unnecessary to attend private classes, as it doubles the learning hours in every topics which is very inefficient. “We cannot change the fact now, but in return it is also a way for NGO teacher like me to have some extra income!” Oh, that’s how Indians achieve equilibrium...

In short words, after my investigation, the education fees of one child for one year is around 1800-2000 rupees if they are studying in Government school, whereas it raises up to 5000 rupees in private school. So we are now asking 3000 rupees (US$70/ 50 Euros/ HK$500) as a minimum amount to sponsor one child. You are encouraged to donate more, just state clearly what purpose do you want to provide for your sponsored family, we will try our best to let your words reach FOCUS.

During the sponsored period, FOCUS promised to send us back the recent photos, copy of academic report or even videoes taping the progress of your sponsored kid. FOCUS will also send you the official receipt. FOCUS and I4P are both charity organization, we will not charge any administration or advertisement fees, so that 100% of your donation can reach the poor.

In my eyes, Indian children are absolutely adorable, their big eyes and chocolate-colored skin are the most impressive. Dancing and singing are really their talents, remember gangs of dancers at the background of any classical Bollywood movies (such as Slumdog Millionaire)? If you are impressed of what we are doing, or want to help kids effectively continuing their education, please support our Change a Life Children Sponsorship Program.

We hope to hear from you!

By Sean