Words from CEO – Reviewing 2018 Embracing 2019

By Christina Chua, the CEO of The CEO Foundation

We have many things to be thankful for in 2018 while we usher in this exciting new era starting in 2019. The biggest triumph has to be the success in receiving a formal alliance with Henan Province Education Bureau with the stamp of approval from the National Security of China in the summer of 2018. We, together with all beneficiaries in our past and future programs, are most grateful to you, who have been standing by us and believing in what we do for our young generation. Thank you for remaining in the family even when there seemed to have little happening during the registration process in 2017-18. In 2019 we are marching into a new era with new exciting programs not limited in China but Hong Kong and even other parts of the world.

China

To recap briefly further back in early 2017, the Central Government of China demanded a federal registration requirement for all off-shore foreign non-profit organizations, inclusive of those from Hong Kong. After a long and tedious process that lasted about a year and a half, the CEO was granted the new official status to carry forth new programs and activities in China. Despite the rapid growth seen in many facets including social services today in China, CEO continues to unfold areas to pioneer positive changes for the poor, the needy and our next generation.

Our local platform is a primary school currently serving over 400 children in poor rural areas in Wuxi, Luoning. After years of cooperative establishment with two major universities in Luoyang, CEO stands a favorable position to expand the horizon of social work professionals. We believe social workers are the primary link to tackle family issues products of poverty, amongst the young generation. We believe social workers are the primary link to tackle family issues products of poverty, amongst the young generation. Aside from maintaining continuous assistance given to some of the Family Anew fostered children that remain in our program, the new focus is to instigate a plan to groom a new generation of compassionate and competent social workers.

From each of the two universities that we have been offering internship opportunities for the last ten years, we are starting a new scheme from 2019 to select and interview a limited number of the “cream of the crop” each year, i.e., capable, willing and motivated social work undergraduates to become CEO interns. They will participate in our new extended apprenticeship program. They will be prepared in practical settings locally and in Hong Kong to lead the trend of “School Social Worker.”

Love-in-Action trips are now re-opening to you, who are interested in visiting the poor and needy in China.

Hong Kong

For the last 16 years, CEO focuses on helping the poor and needy in Mainland China. The process has reflected our firm belief that the greatest need for children, with disabilities or not, is to discover their self-worth, to know that they matter and are cherished. Fast forward to 2018, and we see the same need exhibited in three categories of population crying out to us in Hong Kong:

  1. Children with disabilities
    Comparatively, children with disabilities in Hong Kong are privileged to have ample support services catered to their needs than that in China. Notwithstanding, we trust that we can contribute a new level of quality to their rehabilitation.
  2. Socially withdrawals – Recluse youth
    The ever advancing technology and the material abundance seen in metropolitan cities like Hong Kong seem to post significant challenges for many parents to affirm such worth in their children. A term “recluse” has emerged mainly among the teens to young adults in HK. The recluse population typically withdraws from the general public and social interaction. They live in a secluded aloneness unable to express or contemplate their feelings. CEO recognizes the silent cry of these young hearts and empathizes with their parents today.
  3. Inmates
    A state of despair, regrets, and debasing oneself by the committed crime likely render hopelessness in many incarcerated. Inmates’ rehabilitation has been an ongoing effort made by the authority and humanitarian organizations attempting to reduce recidivism. We trust that our program will offer renewed hope and a sense of worth to the imprisoned souls.

Under our Life Education, a new program emerges namely HI Partner. “HI” stands for Human-animal Interaction/Intervention. Over the last three decades, researchers and studies globally have shown that canines’ unconditional acceptance helps people of all ages. The program utilizes animal-assisted activity (AAA)/animal-assisted therapy (AAT) as a new therapeutic approach to reach the above three groups of beneficiaries. Over the last three decades, researchers and studies globally have shown that canines’ unconditional acceptance helps people of all ages to reduce stress, change, and adjust negative opinions and values, enhance and affirm self-confidence, and affirm self-worth in those who care for them. CEO utilizes the knowledge and develops several projects in HI Partner Program.

The first two combined pilot projects began in mid-2018 and January 2019 collaborating with Haven of Hope Sunnyside Special Education School and Zion Youth Social Service respectively. The purpose of this project is to create an AAA/AAT platform that the recluse population can participate in as canine handlers; and to simultaneously help rehabilitate a group of children with severe cerebral palsy. The CP children participated in a weekly animal-assisted therapy class when a CEO Social Work Canine (SWC) would present in those sessions. The result has been affirmative and encouraging albeit gradual. Amongst these children the awareness of the surrounding has increased (eye opened to focus on the SWC), motor skills have improved (reach out to touch and feed the SWC), and positive responses have shown toward the SWC (tightened fists relaxed). We are pleased also to see the increased commitment level of the recluse youth currently being trained to become a canine handler.

To sustain and ensure continuity of HI Partner program, we are preparing to embark on a third pilot project; a specialized scheme called canine prison training. The project will serve to maintain a constant flow in the above circle of services involving human and canines. The project includes sending a selected CEO candidate to the US to acquire the necessary skills to operate a prison canine training program in HK The ultimate goal of the scheme is to actively involve inmates to engage in training therapy/service canines to help physically, mentally, and emotionally disabled people in Hong Kong. Such training scheme has seen over 30 years of success in inmates’ rehabilitation worldwide. By learning to train and care for their assigned canine, the process gives inmates a perspective of other-centered. The process enables them to feel loved and accepted, to provide them with hope, to know that they can help the helpless, and to contribute to society despite their predicament. It is also technical training for the inmates that have short sentences to re-enter society with an acquired profession of canine training.