More Sustainable Source of Resilience and Recovery

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In disaster management, the framework of participatory capacities and vulnerabilities analysis (namely “PCVA”) has been widely adopted for needs assessment over the past three decades in different countries.  This lens was also referenced by ZeShan team to understand not only the impact of the ongoing 5th wave of COVID pandemic on vulnerable people but also the systemic drivers behind such impact.   These often touch upon issues related to social inclusion, public governance, health equity, equal access to public resources and even policy issues.

PCVA is rooted in two proven social development methodologies.  First, of course, it stems from the traditional tool of CVA which enables frontline workers to design and plan relief projects, based on capacities and vulnerabilities of a community.  It recognizes vulnerable people have capacities to cope with adversity and can take actions to improve and rebuild their lives, before, during and/or after a disaster.  Second, PCVA has originated from the belief that empowering communities to participate in program design, planning and/or management would lead to increased ownership, accountability, and impact.  This is therefore the best way to bring about recovery or even changes.

This framework indeed aligns very much with ZeShan’s core approach of community empowerment in all program planning.   We believe, in every community, people have resources and capacities, but often unnoticed and then under-utilized.  In the process of disaster relief and recovery, it is therefore very important to identify these resources and capacities, and then empower people at all levels, including the so-called victims.  This process is always a more sustainable way to help people help themselves and others, and rebuild their own life and community.

In the past three months, through this lens, we discussed with peer foundations, project partners and people in Hong Kong.  We have identified the pressing needs of the most vulnerable ones as well as some of their precious but unnoticed resources and capacities.   With more than 10 new relief grants, ZeShan has focused on those marginalized or excluded under the existing policy frameworks and mainstream service provision or subsidy schemes.  These include grassroots families, ethnic minorities, refugees and asylum seekers, small businesses and social enterprises struggling with unsold food stock and poor cashflows.   Designing each of our relief programs, we have tried hard to mobilize their own untapped labour and unused materials inside our hard-hit communities, with a view to preparing themselves better and stronger in the forthcoming process of economic recovery.

For a charitable foundation, we consider it not difficult to hand out materials to the needy.  We are therefore trying hard to be more forward looking.  At this current relief stage, whenever possible, a more empowering process was consciously designed and executed in our relief projects.  For we believe, this will be a more effective and sustainable way to help them rebuild their own communities at the next rehabilitation phase.

Our recent relief grants:

Initiated by Project
Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation Wu Wu Cheng” Community Mutual Support Initiative”
Fullness Social Enterprises Society Limited Love Our Neighbour
Dialogue in the Dark (HK) Foundation
WeCare (Emergent Emotional Support for Vulnerable Elderly)
Health In Action Emergency Relief to Cleaners and Deprived Families Working and/or Living in Kwai Chung
Run Hong Kong Covid Relief – Health and Essential Services
Covid Relief – Psychological Support
Christian Action – Centre for Refugees COVID-19 Fifth Wave Emergency Distribution
United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service COVID-19 Care for Ethnic Minorities
The Neighbourhood Advice-Action Council Friendly Food Support Scheme
Hong Kong Unison 5th Wave (COVID-19) Ethnic Minority Emergency Relief Project

Irene SO
Executive Director
ZeShan Foundation

Staff and volunteers distributing relief packs to elderly (Dialogue in the Dark (HK) Foundation)
Staff and volunteers distributing relief packs to elderly (Dialogue in the Dark (HK) Foundation)
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Volunteers distributing vouchers to beneficiaries
(“Wu Wu Cheng 2.0” Community Mutual Support Initiative/ Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation)
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Social Enterprise (Angelchild) staff packing food packs
(Fullness Social Enterprises Society)
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Staff distributing daily necessities to refugees and asylum seekers (Christian Action- Centre For Refugees)
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Fresh shop at RUN! Refugees and asylum seekers collecting fresh food, milk, cleaning supplies and toiletries every fortnight.
(RUN Hong Kong)
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Volunteers packing COVID relief packs
(Hong Kong Unison)
Staff and volunteers distributing relief packs to elderly (Dialogue in the Dark (HK) Foundation)
With help of volunteers, the COVID-19 Care Package were delivered to different districts
(United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service)
Staff visited cleaners’ workplaces to talk about the proper usage of PPE correctly and the use of Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits, etc. (Health In Action)
Staff visited cleaners’ workplaces to talk about the proper usage of PPE correctly and the use of Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits, etc.
(Health In Action)
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Haiti Earthquake Relief

World Vision

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Early in the morning of 14 August 2021, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, causing hospitals, schools and homes to collapse, claiming over 2,200 lives and leaving communities in crisis. According to UNICEF, it has been estimated that about 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, have been affected by the powerful earthquake.

The disaster caused damages in mainly the departments (or provinces) of Sud, Nippes and Grand’ Anse which were 125km away from the capital city of Haiti. There were severe damages to infrastructure, including shelters built from previous storms, buildings like hospitals, schools and churches, roads which were necessary for the community to carry out relief services and to recover. Several hospitals have been damaged or destroyed, while those still operating are overloaded, with a serious shortage of personnel and medical supplies to address growing health needs.

Social challenges emerged as gangs’ violent activities spread over the country urged the need to support on protection or security alongside the intervention like health, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), shelter, food security, children protection and education to the damaged area.

Before this earthquake, Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western hemisphere; about 65% of its population live under the national poverty line. Political instability has hindered the economic and social development.

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, about 4.3 million people (44 percent of the population analyzed) were expected to be starving severely from September 2021 to February 2022. The worst situations were reported in Nord-Ouest, Centre (the Haut Plateau), Sud and Nippes, which are classified to be in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency). (Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Dated 12 Nov 2021)

ZeShan therefore made a relief grant to support World Vision’s relief work to address the pressing needs of health and nutrition, child protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as shelter.

Deworming activities are on-going in schools

Deworming activities are on-going in schools  ©World Vision

children friendly space

Children friendly space.   ©World Vision

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Forget Famine Not

Oxfam, World Vision and Medecins Sans Frontieres

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A deadly mix of conflict, COVID‐19, insect attack and persistent droughts have pushed more than 7 million people across six countries in East Africa to the very edge of starvation. According to UN reports, approximately 108,000 people there were under catastrophic famine‐conditions, a phase marked by critical acute malnutrition, starvation, destitution and death. This phase is understood in the humanitarian sector as the highest and most urgent Integrated Food Insecurity Phase Classification (IPC) of level 5. Additionally, almost 7.8 million people are exposed to emergency phase (IPC4), and if things worsen are one step away from famine. As many as 26 million are classified at “crisis level” (IPC3), where action is needed now to stop them sliding into emergency.

The region has endured substantial and widespread breeding of desert locusts since late 2019, resulting in loss of pasture and crops. Added to this, from June to December 2020, rising conflicts has exacerbated the food insecurity situation in the region. The Climate Prediction and Application Centre and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization have both made predictions of dry conditions and worsening food insecurity situation in 2021. Coupled with economic impact of COVID‐19, lockdowns continue to destroy livelihoods and push millions into desperation.

This challenging period could erode human and economic development gains that have been made towards the global Sustainable Development Goals across the region. The rising food insecurity also increases the risks faced by women and girls, including gender‐based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse.

In view of these pressing emergency needs, ZeShan Foundation made in the summer of 2021 three major emergency grants to support the ongoing famine-related relief operations in South Sudan and Ethiopia by three INGOs, namely Oxfam, World Vision and Medecins Sans Frontieres.  The relief efforts include provision of food relief, clean water and sanitation, emergency healthcare and protection of vulnerable groups, especially children and women.

Hundreds of people in Shire’s University IDP site live in an unfinished building, where they sleep, cook and eat. Many don’t have mattresses or blankets. ©Claudia Blume/MSF

Hundreds of people in Shire’s University IDP site live in an unfinished building, where they sleep, cook and eat. Many don’t have mattresses or blankets. ©Claudia Blume/MSF

It is one of the camp sites in Tigray region. Oxfam is providing life-saving aids, including food, water and hygiene kits to displaced people in Tigray since Jan 2021. ©Oxfam

It is one of the camp sites in Tigray region. Oxfam is providing life-saving aids, including food, water and hygiene kits to displaced people in Tigray since Jan 2021. ©Oxfam

Caregivers preparing nutritious food. ©World Vision

Caregivers preparing nutritious food. ©World Vision

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China Social Work Research Centre

Peking University and Polytechnic University

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Since 2007, Peking University has been rolling out its social work program under its Department of Sociology, in a joint effort and strategic partnership with the Department of Applied Social Sciences (DASS) of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The primary purposes of the joint program are to foster the integration of social work theory and practice as a way to indigenize and professionalize social work in China, as well as provide training to enhance the problem-solving capacity of social workers towards achieving social development.

The two institutes co-founded the PekingU-Hong Kong PolyU China Social Work Research Centre. The Centre is devoted to the development and indigenization of social work theory and practice in China, aiming to develop a pipeline for leading scholars who are committed to the social change of China in the long term. To that end, strengthening the teaching capacity both undergraduate and graduate programs in social work is an integral part of the Center’s mission.

In 2012, ZeShan Foundation and Si Yuan Foundation jointly committed RMB20 million to establish a dedicated development fund. The fund will be critical to supporting the sustained growth of the Centre, so that it may develop into a leading institution for teaching and research in social work development, a think tank for social policy, and an international hub linking with social workers and social policy makers from mainland China, Hong Kong and the international community. The fund provides seed funding for research and program capacity building and enable PKU and the Center to leverage for external funding from the government and private sector.

In 2013, to commemorate the partnership, the compound of the Centre was renamed Si Shan Yuan (思善苑), taken from the names of the two sister foundations. During the unveiling ceremony on July 20, Prof. Zhou Qifeng, President of Peking University, presented Dr. Thomas Chen with the Outstanding Educational Contribution Award in recognition of his unwavering support for education in China.

In January 2014, a 4-day intensive training on social work curriculum development and capacity building was organized for about 100 Master of Social Work (MSW) instructors from various universities across China. Co-organized by Centre, the Social Work Teaching Guidance Committee under the Ministry of Education, and the China Association for Social Work Education, the training program attracted both local and international scholars and senior social work practitioners. Leading pracademics from the University of Chicago and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University participated as trainers in the workshop.

Peking University (PKU) is considered a cradle for higher education in modern China. It has been at the forefront in the teaching and research of humanities, social sciences and liberal arts education. Throughout its history, the university has distinguished itself in terms of intellectual freedom and leadership in social sciences and has produced and hosted man prominent Chinese thought leaders.

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Disaster Relief in the Philippines

World Food Program & Oxfam Hong Kong, the Philippines

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In November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines and caused severe and extensive devastation, resulting in numerous casualties and hundreds of thousands homeless. 13 million people were affected by the typhoon, 3.5 million people displaced and over 23,000 injured.  A number of provinces in central Philippines had witnessed massive destruction and loss of life.
In response to the disaster, ZeShan Foundation donated HK$1 million to three leading international humanitarian organizations, namely Doctors without Borders (also known as Medecins sans Frontieres – MSF), the United Nation World Food Program (WFP), and Oxfam Hong Kong for their disaster relief efforts.  The donation will help to provide vital relief to families and also facilitate the rebuilding of their homes and communities in the affected regions.
[Feature photo source: AFP]
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Disaster Relief in Nepal

Habitat for Humanity, World Food Programme & MSF, Nepal

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In response to the Nepal Earthquake in April 2015, ZeShan Foundation supported disaster relief organizations providing food, medical support and shelter.

Nepal, which remains one of the world’s poorest countries, was rocked by a 7.8-magnitute earthquake on April 25, 2015. Hundreds of aftershocks followed, including a 7.3-magnitude quake on May 12. The disaster killed some 9,000 people, injured more than 20,000, and displaced hundreds of thousands across the country. The quakes also caused widespread devastation, destroying some 800,000 houses.

The United Nation World Food Program: To provide food to survivors;

Médecins Sans Frontières: To fund medical and non-medical teams to set up surgical units, provide support to hospitals, run mobile clinics in remote areas, distribute essential relief items, and provide water and sanitation in Nepal.

Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong: To distribute temporary shelter kits, carry out rubble removal and debris clearance, as well as construct transitional housing and permanent homes in the longer term.

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Library Construction

Room To Read, Sri Lanka

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In 2010, ZeShan Foundation supported the fundraising concert for the construction of a library in the Vidyathilake Primary School in Sri Lanka, organized by the Room to Read chapter of the Island School in 2010. The event featured the world’s youngest professional guitarist by the Guinness Book of World Records, Yuto Miyazawa, was a great success.

The project has drawn input from parents and local community members in the construction process and is closely monitored by a local Construction Committee with guidance from the local R2R team. The local community is empowered and feels a sense of ownership through direct participation. Shortly after the completion of construction work, library was fully furnished and filled with almost 1000 books in July 2012. Having adequate light and good ventilation, the spacious 800-square-foot single-story building is welcoming and inviting to students. Training on how to develop reading skills, manage the library, and organize library activities were conducted for librarians and teachers to ensure that facilities will be fully utilized, and ensures the sustainability of the project. It is hoped that the library will be a catalyst to improve literacy and leave great impact on the local community.

Room to Read was founded by John Wood. The organization focuses on enhancing literacy and gender equality in education, so that “all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.”

Click here to read the completion report.

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Teaching Fellows in China

Teach for China, China

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In 2010, ZeShan, together with Si Yuan Foundation and River Star Foundation provided support for Teach For China, formerly named China Education Initiative, an NGO which seeks to reduce educational inequity in China by engaging recent college graduates in the United States and China. Providing an alternate teacher sourcing channel for public schools in China, TFC has developed a teaching fellows program to meet the pressing need for teachers in understaffed low-income schools, while fostering a cross-cultural constituency of young leaders positioned to advance the cause of educational equity.

Forty teaching fellows are placed at schools in teams of four, with two Americans and two Chinese to each team – living and working side-by-side. They strategize about how to motivate and influence their students, cooperate with local school administrations, collaborate with local teachers, and work to improve their students’ educational prospects. To ensure the relevance of its approach, TFC works closely with government partners on program design and implementation.

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Rural Teachers Training Program

Zigen, China

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ZeShan in 2009 joined forces with Seeds Foundation and Si Yuan Foundation in supporting an initiative which aims to develop a training manual and provide “Training the Trainers” (TOT) courses for rural teachers. Developed by The Zigen Fund, an NGO committed to improving the livelihood of rural populations in China, together with experts in rural education, the manual introduces effective teaching and learning methodologies in the context of rural China, and reasserts the value of being a rural teacher.

Training has been provided to 120 county-level “master trainer” teachers in Hubei, Hebei and Yunnan provinces on how to use the manual. They are expected to train up to 3,000 rural elementary school teachers in the next three years. A conference will be held in 2011 to share best practice indicators for quality rural education, showcase the training manual, and hopefully inspire other adult education programs in rural areas.

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Building Disaster Response Capacity in Public Health

School of Public Health and Primary Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

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While Asia is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, there is only limited region-specific research in relations to the role of public health and medicine in disaster response and management.

In order to improve preparedness for future disasters and mitigate the resulting adverse impact, the School of Public Health and Primary Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong initiated a research project to develop case studies of public health issues resulting from major natural disasters. Modeled on the concept of case-teaching methods in the research and teaching of disasters and humanitarian studies, the project is led by Professor Sian Griffiths and Professor Emily Chan.

The study examines medical and public health responses to recent major disasters in Asia and their complex emergency situations. The results of the project, including a set of case studies, will be shared among academic, research and policy professionals, and are expected to contribute to the body of knowledge currently available and stimulate further discourse. They will enhance knowledge and understanding of key issues in disaster response and training in the region. The outcome is intended to be used for teaching and as academic references for future research and historical referencing purposes. Also in the plan is a series of public seminars at which public health professionals and academia will be invited to share their experiences in public health and medicine in disaster and humanitarian response.

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