Asia's Most Influential: Alia Eyres, CEO Of Mother's Choice
Despite this being a particularly difficult year for charities, Mother’s Choice runs one of the only children’s homes that not only accepted new admissions in 2020, but also recruited more foster families to take care of children in need.
The charity, which started in 1987 as a volunteer-led group in response to a spike in teen pregnancies, has transformed the lives of more than 53,000 girls and young women in crisis through residential services, counselling, sex education workshops, adoption and financial support.
This year, Alia Eyres and her team introduced a new pilot programme called Cuddle Me that looks after premature babies whose mothers used drugs while pregnant, in response to a 71 per cent increase in children referred to Mother’s Choice’s Child Care Home in the past year. The charity hired two trainers and ten employees it calls “cuddlers”, whose function is to spend hours holding the infants to their chests as a practice of restorative therapy. In all, those cuddlers spent 535 hours cuddling in the past year.
Integrating nurturing touch and one-to-one interaction has brought about noticeable improvements in the children’s health, including a decrease in crying, improved sleep and pain relief. “Cuddling can be an effective way of showing infants that they are cared for and loved, and will benefit children for the rest of their lives,” Eyres says.
Also this year, after all 800 Mother’s Choice staff and volunteers completed a code of conduct course in child protection, the charity was awarded a level one certification by Keeping Children Safe, an international non-profit child protection agency, making it the first local Hong Kong organisation to achieve this global recognition.
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