The co-founder of The Hub tells us about the evolution of his philanthropic efforts and his vision for his charity

Charity began at home for David Boehm. Growing up in Australia, the importance of giving back to the community was instilled in him. However, after realising some of the money he donated to charity wasn’t used effectively, he decided it was time for more focused philanthropy.

He began working with the Childline Thailand Foundation and set up a centre to provide welfare and educational support for street children in Bangkok. Then, in 2013 in Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po, he co-founded The Hub, a centre providing educational guidance, after-school activities, health and welfare services to underprivileged children to help them grow and develop their full potential. 

Tell us about your future plans.

We currently target school-aged children, from five to 18, but we are also looking at setting up an early learning centre. There’s a gap in the Hong Kong social security system for children aged between 18 months and three years and we would like to start a programme to bring those children to The Hub during the day, which would also make use of the space when our children are at school.

It is my ambition to set up another Hub. Bruce and I always said that even if we save one kid from a life of poverty or crime it will be worthwhile, and obviously we have helped a lot more than that—I think we have had several thousand children come through our centre—but we want to do more, particularly for other kids who live in different areas. 

We have identified Kwun Tong as the next potential site and we are talking with the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. If they accept our proposal, they would fund the construction and the first three years; we just need to make sure we can sustain it thereafter.

How and why did The Hub come about?

In early 2012 I was talking with my friend Bruce Stinson about The Hub in Bangkok, which I had helped set up with Reverend Bill Crews and Childline Thailand. We had both lived most of our lives in Hong Kong—I’ve been here since 1981—and we wanted to do something for the city’s children.

We did some investigation and found that more than 200,000 children were living in poverty in the city. We spent some time looking at the areas where these kids live and decided that the place needing immediate assistance was Sham Shui Po. We had our first charity ball in June 2012, where we raised the money to set up The Hub. We found suitable premises in Sham Shui Po and opened in May 2013.

See also: The Hub Charity Ball 2018

What was the vision for The Hub?

We had visited some of these kids and their families in Sham Shui Po who live in tiny apartments with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities, and the first thing that occurred to me was that there was no space to bring your friends to come and play after school, let alone to do your homework.

The concept of The Hub was to give underprivileged school-aged children in Hong Kong a chance to have lives like the ones we were privileged to have in Australia. That means educational support; a safe place to come and play with your friends; a place to do music, sport, art; a computer room for computer classes. We provide some vocational support and training too.

The aim is to give these kids support, to give them exposure to the wider world and to provide the best chance possible for them to be contributing members of society rather than to remain in the poverty trap or to fall into a life of crime.

How can people support the organisation?

We host a fundraising gala ball every year with a Hollywood star as guest of honour. We encourage corporations to sponsor our programmes. We also have a lot of volunteers. Even people who don’t speak Cantonese can volunteer—many of them teach English. We try and get all of our children to enroll in regular English classes because if your English is fluent, it’s a great way to get a good job.

Where does your personal commitment to giving back come from?

I grew up seeing my parents give back. They weren’t very wealthy, but they made sure they donated money to the needy, so I always had that instilled in me. And I feel that if we live in Hong Kong as a guest, as an expatriate, and we are lucky enough to make a good living from it, then we should give something back.

Learn more about The Hub Hong Kong

See also: The Philanthropy Issue

  • PhotographyMichaela Giles