The other night, I was taking the streetcar home and I saw a man. He was disheveled; with matted hair, stained clothing, and holding plastic bags. As I looked at him counting coins in his hand, I felt this prompting in my heart to give the money I had in my wallet to him. As I sat with this prompting, I started making excuses- will he use the money to buy alcohol or drugs? What if he touches me with his dirty fingernails? What if he starts muttering something crazy to me? What if he became offended that I took pity on him being homeless?
I wish I could tell you I was like the Good Samaritan and introduced myself, gave him the money, and offered him clean clothes and a hot shower. Instead, I continued to have a silent argument with God in how I couldn’t help him as he got off the streetcar into the dark alleyway. As I stared at his shadow, I was left with that feeling of a missed opportunity, a missed rending of heaven-on-earth moment. I felt ashamed. I pride myself on being a person for social justice, for shining a light on those forgotten in society and yet did not even want to sit next to this guy, let alone help him.
Don’t we all have those types of moment? We choose to walk with a Starbucks on hand and ignore the homeless man sitting right outside the same corner. We avert our eyes to prevent making eye contact with the grannies that push carts piled high with cardboard boxes and we convince ourselves that we are people who make a difference by buying that fair trade product or by pressing LIKE on Facebook in support of for some convicting social injustice article . We make all the excuses in the world to not love our neighbors. We let our comfort and laziness wall us in.
However, it’s encouraging to know that there are people who are not like the rest of us. There are people who are willing to walk with the very people rejected by the rest of us. People who lead quiet and faithful lives in shining a light to the most vulnerable. Here are 5 of my favorite charities and the good Samaritan’s who inspire me to be better everyday.
In Hong Kong, here are 5 charities that I love and support:
- Branches of Hope: Speaking to my teacher heart, Branches of Hope’s Keeping Kids in Kindergarten program is the only charity in Hong Kong that has a sponsorship program that support kids from refugee and asylum seeker families in attending Kindergarten schools all over Hong Kong. They provide funds for transportation, school uniforms, textbooks, and other material needs that a child needs in order to go to school in Hong Kong. For 9600 HKD, you can help a child stay in school for 1 year.
- Lost and Found: While leading their church, Maylin and her husband discovered many ethnic minority women in their church were vulnerable to trafficking and unjust labour circumstances in Hong Kong. As a response, they prayerfully started a shelter and social enterprise to walk with women at risk. I love their heart in dreaming big and serving the one person with lots of love and perseverance.
- Mighty Oaks: Founded by Poh Lee Tan, Mighty Oaks is dedicated to the health and well-being of the elderly in Hong Kong so that they can live with dignity, purpose, hope, and love. I love their aim in loving the elderly who are often forgotten through connecting generations together with the arts and gardening. One such program is their ACE Program with the vision to connect every school in Hong Kong to support one elderly facility within their own neighbourhood through social, recreational, and educational intergenerational enrichment.
- Inner City Ministry – Working with the Nepali community in Hong Kong, ICM equips leaders from their own community to lead and empower others. From their children’s program to their sewing ministry, this organization is thriving in providing spiritual and practical support for ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. I got to know Ramilla from ICM and am so thankful for all her help at Barefoot Love and also for their sewing ministry who is our new workshop partner in our new Spread the Love Sewing Eco-bag Workshop.
- Eden Ministry: Eden Ministry HK is both a social enterprise that makes beautiful jewelry and provides shelters and employment training for women freed from trafficking situations. Currently they have a drop-in shelter along Temple Street area open to Chinese women and men who want to leave this industry. We recently partnered with Eden for a Spread the Love Jewelry Making workshop, where we created beautiful custom necklaces and earrings.
Because of their heart, Barefoot Love exists. Because of their work on the front-lines, Barefoot Love continues to strategize ways to support their fight.