After two decades of working in financial services in the United States and in her native Hong Kong, Amy Fong (B’92) felt something was missing.

“I always wanted to do something meaningful and impactful,” says Fong. She found fulfillment when she left the world of finance in 2015 and started a new career as CEO of Save the Children Hong Kong.

This was not an immediate jump, but rather a slow leap. Fong knew she wanted a change but was unsure about her next steps. She thought she might join a social enterprise, so she initially turned down the CEO job with Save the Children.

“I thought it was too much of a stretch,” she admits. Meeting with some of the organization’s leaders — women like herself who had left the corporate world to join a global movement to better the lives of children — changed her mind. Fong was impressed with their diverse backgrounds. “They all came from different walks of life to join Save the Children,” she says.

Eglantyne Jebb created Save the Children nearly 100 years ago, crafting a landmark United Nations document on children’s rights. Jebb “had a lot of beliefs for a better world,” Fong says. Since then, generations of men and women have continued her legacy. Save the Children now has 25,000 staff members around the world.

“It is a very inspiring organization,” she says. “I thought, if I want to change my path from banking to a different sector and have more impact in society and the world, Save the Children is the best place to be.”

Hong Kong citizens are very aware of the plight of refugees in other parts of the world. Since Fong’s arrival in 2015, Save the Children Hong Kong has rescued thousands of refugees traveling across the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Europe to escape persecution and poverty.

“We raised a lot of awareness,” Fong says. “Hong Kong was far away from where this all was happening, but people were very generous. We ran articles about the refugees in collaborations with local media.” For that operation, Save the Children Hong Kong was one of the largest donors worldwide.

Save the Children Hong Kong also is one of several nongovernmental organizations to help refugees living in makeshift tents in Bangladesh, protecting children from trafficking and other harms. “I am proud of our work there,” Fong says.

Although she has had a global focus, Fong is setting her sights on projects closer to home. “By most standards, Hong Kong children are not the most marginalized in the world, but there are those who do experience relative marginalization and deprivation, from an emotional or mental health point of view.” Half of the organization’s money goes to China, although the amount going to Hong Kong has increased from 3 to 5 percent to 10 percent in recent years.

Fong’s work has enriched the lives of her own children. Last Christmas, her 12-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter traveled with her to the slums of Mumbai — an eye-opening experience for them, she says. Visiting children in these marginalized areas and seeing how resilient they are in the wake of the difficulties they face is both humbling and inspiring, Fong says: “It shows that whatever we face in our own lives, it’s nothing compared with what others face.”

Jennifer Lubell

 

Published in Georgetown Business magazine, Fall 2018