New Day Asia

China








When a group of friends met around a dinner table in Hong Kong they committed to work together for the support vulnerable women and girls in Asia…

Liza Green first experienced giving circles in her native South Africa, recalling ‘we all gave money every month which was distributed in the townships to charities that worked with young people; it was very small but I always thought that it was an amazing concept.’ After moving to Hong Kong in 2002, she and her husband Chris, were particularly troubled by the sex trafficking industry that blights so many of Asia’s poorest countries. In response, New Day Asia giving circle was launched around a dinner table with eight friends in 2007. Membership grew organically to 86 over five years, through dinner parties, word of mouth and the occasional article in the island’s financial press. Members, who are mostly expatiates and permanent residents, each pledge a minimum monthly contribution of HK$500 (US$65). The circle raised US$425,040 during its first five years, supplemented by US$137,657 in co-funding from corporate businesses, to fund projects in Cambodia, India, China and Nepal that protect and empower women and girls.

Twice each year, members gather to decide what new projects to support. Liza explains, ‘If we fund anything new then a member must take that project on as a champion. Ideally we want to support no more than three or four projects because that’s what we can comfortably manage as volunteers.

LOVEQTRA Sengchemdrukmo Girl’s Home is a registered non-profit organisation in China, remotely situated on the Tibetan plateau, andone of the circle’s earliest donations.  The home offers protection to young girls rescued from domestic slavery and abuse. One of New Day Asia’s members had a personal connection with the home’s founder and recommended the home as a potential project to the group. After an evaluation, New Day Asia offered an initial grant of HK$98,000 (US$12,600) for refurbishment work at the home, with follow-up grants being given for other capital expenditure in subsequent years. Recently, one member collected a large quantity of winter clothing from her children’s school to be donated to the school. As Liza notes, ‘It’s an ongoing relationship, where we’ve been helping a very small non-profit with little access to funding, but the relationship remains strong and we are a critical component of their fundraising requirement — it’s very fulfilling on both sides.’ Recently, Liza and Chris, along with their children, met with several girls who have graduated from LOVEQTRA in Shenzhen where they are studying.

‘We’ve always emphasised member involvement’, says Liza, ‘for example, one of our members made project visit videos that went online, we have volunteers arranging site visits and now we have two members overseeing a specific project each.  The Greens are reluctant for New Day Asia to hire any professional staff, and value keeping costs as low as possible through volunteerism.

Liza wants New Day Asia to remain focused on abused women and girls even though they do support project that has a broader mandate. She feels the circle model works well and would like to see it replicated in other Asian cities: ‘I’d like to see a New Day Singapore, a New Day Jakarta, and so on; different cells run by people who wanted to do that and working independently from us in Hong Kong, but perhaps using our ideas and guidelines. We’ve created this structure; we just want people to use it.’  

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