The American Women's Association of Hong Kong, Ltd. (AWA) is a community of members from around the world. The organization was founded in 1956 when three independent organizations – led by American women – were united. The goal of our founders was to provide service to the community of Hong Kong through the formation of a single, not-for-profit organization.
The origins of our work – and those three founding groups 60 years ago – remains alive today:
- The Workshop (renamed the Children's Welfare Committee in 1962) was concerned with the plight of young people and children. At the time, Hong Kong was overwhelmed by the needs of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing China, for whom there was little hope of schooling, training or jobs. The Workshop provided vocational training: young boys were taught cobbling and equipped with a box of tools and young girls were trained as seamstresses and housemaids.
Today the AWA aids the young people of Hong Kong by granting loans and scholarships.
- Project for the Blind was dedicated to creating facilities for the blind in Hong Kong and gave their time to working on behalf of blind girls and women, both at home and in school. By pooling their resources, they purchased brailling machines and paper, paid teachers' salaries and took classes in brailling. In time, the Hong Kong Society for the Blind was formed, taking over many functions of the Project for the Blind.
To this day, the AWA members volunteer and read aloud newspapers through our Reading for the Blind program
- The Servicemen's Guides Volunteers, assisted young United States military personnel on leave in Hong Kong. This small group organized an information center at Fenwick Pier. They investigated and created an approved list of shops, restaurants and places of entertainment and acted as hostesses by answering questions and at times inviting service personnel to their homes for holiday dinners.
This tradition of welcoming service personnel continues to the present day.
On July 7, 1965 the AWA was incorporated in order to conform to Hong Kong's existing laws governing charitable organizations. From a charter membership of 53, the AWA has grown to over 650 members, many of whom continue the tradition of service to the community.
As office rents became more expensive in Hong Kong, in 1979, the Executive Board bought permanent office space for the Association at Monticello on Kennedy Road and in 1980 moved in. In 2013, as Hong Kong property prices continued to escalate, the Association sold its Kennedy Road location and moved to the Arion Commercial Centre in Sheung Wan.