Kate Farr chats to four women making a real difference to the lives of women and children in Hong Kong and beyond.
Alia Eyres, Mother’s Choice and Claire Yates, Lion Rock Press
It was Claire Yates’ own experience of motherhood that inspired her to design charity Christmas cards for Mother’s Choice. “When I became a mother myself, I felt a real need to give something back to the women and babies whose journey wasn’t the magical experience we all hope for,” she says. Following the popularity of the cards, Claire decided to launch Lion Rock Press, selling beautiful Hong Kong-themed stationery and gifts.
“Entrepreneurs like Claire have huge potential to make a difference for a cause they are passionate about by donating much-needed products and services,” says Alia Eyres, CEO of Mother’s Choice. Supporting children, youth and families in crisis, its services include a child care home, foster care and adoption services, as well as counselling and non-judgmental support for pregnant girls, and sex education in schools across Hong Kong. “We also support policies to protect and promote the rights of children in our city,” she adds. Now in its fourth year, Lion Rock Press has raised $140,000 for Mother’s Choice, and the pair hope to push this figure even higher this year with the quirky, lighthearted designs. 100 percent of the proceeds go straight to this excellent cause.
The full range of Lion Rock Press x Mother’s Choice products is available to buy online at thelionrockpress.com.
Find out more about Mother’s Choice at motherschoice.org.
Nicole Woolhouse, Box of Hope
Inspired by a similar scheme from the UK, Nicole Woolhouse’s annual Box of Hope project is changing the lives of underprivileged children in Hong Kong and overseas, one shoebox at a time. The idea is simple: children decorate shoeboxes before filling them with new toys, school gear and hygiene supplies such as bars of soap and toothpaste. The boxes are then distributed to orphanages, hospitals and care homes in eight countries and counting. The benefits are twofold. “The project not only helps and gives hope to children in need, but it also teaches children about helping within their communities,” says Nicole.
As any parent knows, a little bit of healthy competition is an effective motivator, which is why there’s now an annual Box of Hope design competition. “The boxes we receive each year are always so beautiful that we decided to launch a competition. The winners come on a Hong Kong delivery with us – it’s really fun to see the donating children interacting with the recipients.”
Box of Hope has grown from just 1,200 boxes in 2008 to an impressive 24,000 in 2015. And while the scheme now attracts major corporate backers, it remains firmly rooted in the principle of children helping children. “One year we distributed 18,000 boxes, travelling to a very rural village in the Philippines. I was opening a box with a little girl and inside was a card written by my daughter’s best friend. It was amazing to be able to show the girl donating the box exactly who received it. Every trip means the world to everyone who works on Box Of Hope and we all feel very privileged to be able to do this.”
Nikki Boot, DB Mothers and Friends
From its humble roots as a Facebook group, DB Mothers & Friends is now a registered social enterprise that collects preloved furniture, appliances, toys, clothes and books from homes and offices and redistributes them to charities, schools and individuals in need. “Since we started, we’ve collected more than 200 trucks of unwanted household and office goods, saved approximately 300 tonnes of waste from the landfill and benefited more than 3,000 individuals,” says founder Nikki Boot.
Nikki and her team now operate throughout Hong Kong, collecting unwanted items for a small fee. However, the principle of working together to benefit the wider community continues to underpin the enterprise, “We helped a young family living in a cubicle unit… with limited education and a low household income, they didn’t have the money to buy shoes for their daughter. After a social worker introduced us, we were able to donate not only shoes, but also clothes, a wardrobe, a TV, diapers, toys and books. We found them a milk powder sponsor and even a playgroup, along with transport sponsorship.” Nikki continues, “We were able to hire the mother to work for us part-time while her daughter was at playgroup. When she became pregnant with their second baby, we hired the father to help us with furniture moving jobs – he’s been with us ever since!”
With the cumulative effect of these small acts, Nikki hopes to continue building a sustainable community, helping beneficiaries to improve their situation in the longer term, “I’m really happy that we were able to help someone earn a living,” she adds.