Stories about children in the Borderline normally come from faraway places and feature kids that have the misfortune to need MSF medical care. But the ones we’re going to talk about here are much closer to home and yet they are still touched by the humanitarian spirit. They are the beginning of a chain of understanding and sympathy that connects all who work in and support MSF. The MSF office in Hong Kong has been trying to find new ways of involving children and their parents to create that awareness of the wider world. Here are just two examples of how that can work.
Waste not, want not
Public information campaigns about how to avoid wasting food are getting more insistent in Hong Kong. So when a little girl in a nursery class suddenly got very enthusiastic about cleaning her plate at lunch, you might suppose that she had got the message from those TV ads. But no. She had made the connection with a different issue and come to the same practical conclusion.
Her ELCHK Grace Nursery School took part in “MSF Day 2015” and helped to recruit students to become MSF Day Student Ambassadors. The school then had a follow up talk about one of the MSF medical topics that is not too technical or difficult to get across: the malnutrition treatment programmes.
Not long afterwards, the form teacher noticed the very determined cleaning of the plate. And then she heard a very clear explanation, a link in that chain of sympathy. “Yes! There are many children who don’t have food to eat!”
No Gift, No Toy
“Self-initiated fundraising” sounds like a rather burdensome way of making a contribution, which could otherwise be done by slipping a cheque in an envelope. But the whole point of the process is to maximize the involvement of the person who wants to give and to multiply their generosity outwards to their family and friends. In this case, through a birthday party for five year old twins, Gerard and Bernard. The guests didn’t bring presents, they brought donations to MSF.
The boys’ mother, Michelle, had prepared the ground with her sons of course. “We watched MSF’s field work videos and website together beforehand. They asked ‘Why do these children have no food? How come their hospital is in a tent and it’s different from that in Hong Kong?’ After hearing our explanation, they were willing to sacrifice their gifts to help others.”
The difference for Michelle was that, unlike her previous, more traditional ways of giving to charities, the birthday party got her totally involved in the cause and the mechanisms. “Through this event all the fifty families at the party learnt about this self-initiated fundraising channel. We not only gathered their support but also got an opportunity to educate the kids.”