Interview with Heide Cheuk: ‘Keys to Sucess’ – living grants to empower young women in poverty
“I was truly impressed by the girls' resilience and positivity in making the best of their situation!”
The disparity between the rich and poor in Hong Kong is one of the most severe in the world. Women and children are amongst the most affected.
Direct cash giving can certainly be helpful especially in emergency situations when immediate assistance is critical – such as during a pandemic.
Hearing the personal stories of each beneficiary and how each person is affected by poverty compromises their daily decision-making. We found that each story and individual struggles are different. Despite the economic struggles these individuals are experiencing, we are impressed by their resilience and positivity in making the best of their situation.
‘Keys to Success’ Financial Support Scheme
Sponsored by 3 Wells Watch Industries Ltd., aimed to provide emergency economic support to young women and their families, in the way to maintain their living and overcome the obstacles. Through regular meetings and a home visit, sharing the opportunities with beneficiaries and sponsored organizations. We hoped to create a judgment-free space with the existence of companions, in inspiring the young ladies to achieve their full potential and reach their dreams.
1. What motivates you to start this program – Keys To Success with Teen’s Key Hong Kong?
We wanted to find a way to GIVE DIRECTLY to low-income families with no strings attached and as little red tape as possible. The key motivation is simply to give direct cash support to those in need.
2. What is the big problem you are trying to solve?
There are many charities and government programs in HK that provide aid in kind, such as food vouchers, food drives, anti-pandemic packages, etc which provide very specific aid. However, we found that direct cash can help low-income families in different ways such as helping with rent, bills, and even paying for extra lessons and education. Thus, filling in the gap where other aid-in-kind programs cannot help.
3. Who and what are you trying to change?
We wanted to especially give aid to individuals in low-income families ranging from single mothers with young children to young girls without any family support struggling to finance their studies and basic daily needs. We hope our 3month direct cash support can improve their economic and psychological well-being in the short run.
Direct cash giving can certainly be helpful especially in emergency situations when immediate assistance is critical – such as during a pandemic. Hence, it is important that we identify those individuals/ families in need of urgent assistance.
However, we realize that direct cash giving has its long-term limitation because some of the things that contribute to improved well-being – such as health care or schooling – may be inaccessible or of low quality.
4. What does ‘Keys to Success’ do to achieve the vision?
Our program works with Teens Keys to identify individuals in dire need of this short-term cash support and provides aid to 10 individuals/families for a period of 3 months. During this time, Teens Keys works with the beneficiaries by providing social welfare follow-up support in hopes to educate and guide each recipient on how to spend the received funds wisely. We hope that direct cash assistance can increase spending on food and basic daily needs and improve education and health outcomes.
5. Do you have any expected Milestones to achieve together with Teen’s Key? What are they?
We hope that our program can garner and attract more supporters over time so that we can provide financial aid to more families and individuals as the pool of funding increases.
6. Anything you want to share with your friends/ your corporate partners/ even your kids?
It is important to build a culture of giving back and contributing to our community for those in need. We live in a world with so much disparity and inequity. The wealth gap is ever widening and the world is facing a surge of economic inequality. COVID-19 has continued to widen the gap. Consequently, urgent actions in both short-term and long-term programs to support people living in poverty are needed.
The disparity between the rich and poor in Hong Kong is one of the most severe in the world. Women and children are amongst the most affected. Due to family obligations, women in poverty generally work less and lack employment protections. Hence, our program works with Teen’s Key to identify young girls who have children living in poverty as a target group of beneficiaries.
7. Your letter/ message to Teen’s Key young women & girls.
Despite your hardships and struggles, the strength you exude in facing your daily challenges to take care of yourself and your families is very admirable and inspiring.
Keep up the good work and believe in yourself, even small steps taken in the right direction can produce great results!