A few weeks ago here at SPEAK HQ we were blessed to receive some incredible news from our group at the International Christian School in Hong Kong. In a truly epic undertaking, they recently helped to organise and run a 3-day benefit concert in aid of the city's foreign migrant workers. Group leader and ICS teacher Brad Christensen tells the story:
Last year (around Spring), I was approached by the director of the International Christian School Secondary Show Choir, and asked if SPEAK HK would "sponsor" a benefit concert for them. They had noticed the Pray & Post campaign we'd done for Foreign Migrant Workers last Spring, and they wanted to take up FMW's as the focal cause of their concert. We jumped at the chance, and contacted three charities here in HK (all of whom serve the FMW population of the city). Once this school year kicked off, the HK SPEAK chapter got to work. We decided to make the concert a 3-day event (January 16-18, 2015). The concert's programme was entitled "HOME," and was written to tell the story of a group of FMW's who leave their home in the Philippines to work in Hong Kong.
The first two nights were set up as benefit concerts (the attendees were members of the general public), with a collection taken and refreshments sold (all proceeds donated to the 3 charities we'd chosen). We also invited representatives of those three charities to address the audience on those nights, bringing attention to the difficulties that FMW's face here in HK and the work that's being done on their behalf. As the majority of middle class Hong Kong families employ FMW's in their homes, this was an issue that we felt was very relevant for the audience.
The third day (Sunday, January 18) was something different entirely. As the majority of Hong Kong's FMW's have Sunday as their one day-off, we chose this date as the day for our "Open Day." The concert was performed as a matinee (at 2:30PM), and free tickets were distributed to FMW's across the city (the students and I personally emailed, phoned, and hand-delivered tickets to a couple dozen church groups and FMW charities across the city). After the concert (Jan 18), we served 500 hot (free) meals (paid for by a wealthy donor who had a relationship with International Christian School) to the 300 FMWs who were in attendance (the leftovers were snatched up quickly, as many FMW's are not fed by their employers as the law requires).
Following the meal, we hosted a number of events - a "vintage shop" (clean, used clothing that we'd raised through a clothing drive was given away), an open gym (volleyball, basketball, etc), a "Zumba" class (aerobic exercise), a computer class, a blood pressure check station, and (our most popular event by far): A fun photo booth (wigs, hats, moustaches, etc were provided). We also had booths staffed by the 3 charities that we'd partnered with - advertising their services to the FMW's who were in attendance. The 300 attendees had a wonderful time, and the students enjoyed serving them immensely. We even hosted a "lucky draw" during the concert intermission, at which point we gave away over $1,000US worth of grocery gift vouchers (and a brand new Samsung smart phone - all of which had been donated).
The weekend itself was a massive logistical undertaking, and the SPEAK students worked very hard to make it happen. For my own part, I barely saw my family that weekend, and wound up taking Monday the 19th off work to spend at home with my own children. Still, it was a wonderful event, and we raised close to $2,000US in donations, all of which will go to the three charities (you can have a look at our charity partners here, here, and here). In fact, the administration, teaching faculty, and students at ICS were so blessed by this opportunity to serve, that they have placed this event on their calendar as a recurring annual event. From the perspective of those we served, and from the experiences of those who had the chance to serve, I would call the event an undreamt-of success.