The Global Concerns Action Team (GCAT) was a service group I began and led at Li Po Chun United World College in Hong Kong.  It operated for seven years from 2004 to 2010, aiming to offer active support to people in genuine need outside Hong Kong.  In its last three years, it had a student membership of between 50 and 70 students, making it by far the largest service group in the College.

The focus of GCAT was on action – doing something – rather than being yet another forum for discussions.  GCAT aimed to take action that makes a positive difference.  The main focus of GCAT was action to help people in other places who were disadvantaged by issues that were significant on a global scale.

GCAT students worked in Project Teams that engaged in action projects, especially (but not only) during during China Week (November each year) and Project Week (March each year).

GCAT projects involved expressing compassion through action for those who were very poor or disadvantaged on the spectrum of global wealth, and also helping people who were being hurt directly by global environmental issues.

GCAT organised fund raising to help people and also contributed voluntary labour to help with certain low-cost/high benefit projects, especially during the College’s annual China Week and Project Week.  Financial assistance was given to support the poorest communities and most needy families, not as a straight financial handout but in a form that provided a basis to ensure ongoing benefits.  In this way, GCAT projects aimed to empower recipients, helping people take control of their lives.  Just as importantly, GCAT aimed to develop a deep sense of lifelong responsibility within the students throughout the College, so that they would always see these issues as being important and grow into competent, concerned, compassionate and caring citizens who would want to take action to support those less fortunate than themselves.

In its first year, GCAT raised HK$31,000 and supplied a hospital in East Timor with a laptop computer to help with rural health education, built the first toilet block in a remote village of lepers in south-west China, worked with Habitat for Humanity to build low-cost housing near
2005-07 Chris Sykes (Canada)
2007-08 Melissa Chiu (Hong Kong)
2008-09 Marius Larsen (Denmark)
2009-10 Pedro Hurtado Ortiz (Nicaragua)
Conghua in China, and supported the reconstruction of a primary school in south-east Sri Lanka affected by the 2004 tsunami.  In 2006, GCAT refurbished the homes of leprosy sufferers in the remote village of Ma Chan in the mountains of China’s Yunnan province.

In November 2007, GCAT supported Waka Tibetan orphanage in south-west China as part of the China Week program (CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS).  In 2008, GCAT raised the funds and helped build two medical clinics in Majiang, a poor rural area of China’s Guizhou province.

In 2009, GCAT held a fundraising extravaganza to raise funds for a third medical clinic in Guizhou province.  This clinic was built in late 2009 and early 2010 in Cengong County (see picture HERE).

In late 2010, it was decided that GCAT’s work had been completed.  During its seven years, GCAT had raised awareness of hitherto unrecognised needs outside Hong Kong, and it had shown a way for students to engage actively towards addressing those needs.  GCAT had grown so large that many students felt it might be better if each of the project teams became a separately managed and funded service team.  The seven project teams operating in 2010 that became the seed groups of new service teams were the following:

  1. 1.  Leprosy sufferers in rural China.  From 2004 to 2007, support was focussed on Ma Chan, a leper’s village in China’s Yunnan province (CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS).  This work was so successful that GCAT felt its work in Ma Chan was complete, and therefore the Project Team broadened its focus to include even more needy communities of leprosy sufferers in Liangshan Prefecture of Xicheng in Sichuan province, and though Joy In Action’s work in Guangdong province.

  2. 2.  Primary Education among minority groups in China, focussing especially on children of the Yao tribe in the mountainous fringes of Guangdong province (CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS)

  3. 3.  Orphanages in Cambodia; GCAT focussed on two orphanages in Phnom Penh run by the Happy Tree Social Services, the House of the Rainbow Bridge (an AIDS orphanage) and CPCDO (which caters for the poorest of the poor children from Cambodia’s rural provinces) (CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS).

  4. 4.  Human trafficking in Cambodia.  The first group of students visited refuges in Cambodia run by the Somaly Mam Foundation in 2009, and there have been several subsequent return visits each year.

  5. 5.  Sponsoring the construction of basic medical clinics in poor rural areas of Guizhou province, China (in co-operation with the Amity Foundation)  (CLICK HERE , HERE and HERE FOR DETAILS).  In 2008, GCAT raised the funds and built two medical clinics in Majiang County.  In 2009, funds were raised for a third clinic that was built in 2010 in Cengong County.

  6. 6.  Working with Free the Children in China.  This project team focussed on children helping other children through education.

  7. 7.  GCAT established a UNICEF Support group, specifically designed to support humanitarian work to help children in North Korea.  Contact was established with successive UNICEF Representatives in North Korea and students met with these representatives in Pyongyang during the 2009 and 2010 goodwill trips to North Korea.

To support these projects, GCAT conducted fundraising projects, which are described HERE.

The main times when students were able to engage in service work to support GCAT was during the annual China Week (in November) and Project Week (in March).  Some details of GCAT service work performed at these times can be seen in the links below:

China Week 2005 (Lepers Project)

China Week 2006 (Lepers Project)

Project Week 2007 (Cambodian Orphanages Project)

China Week 2007 (Tibetan Orphanage Project)

Project Week 2008 (Medical Clinics in Guizhou Project)

China Week 2008 (Medical Clinics in Guizhou Project)

Inaugural Fundraising Extravaganza 2009

China Week 2009 (Medical Clinics in Guizhou Project)

Project Week 2010 (UNICEF in North Korea Project)

To go to Stephen Codrington’s Homepage, click HERE.


Global Concerns Action Team