At just 17, David Qiu is taking major actions to change the world. He is the CEO of Castlestone – an initiative aimed at caring for the homeless and eliminating poverty. This initiative started in Ottawa and has spread to different provinces and even to France. David Qiu is also working towards creating a Vision Shelter that will accommodate the homeless and prepare them to create a better life for themselves, through business training. Read my interview with David Qiu below and be inspired:
Tell us a little about yourself
I am David Qiu and I am the CEO and Founder of Castlestone. It is a developing non-profit organization that works in eliminating poverty here in Ottawa in which it originated and we are now multiplying towards New Brunswick and Toronto. And now going multinational towards France.
Motivation to start Castlestone
How I started was back when I was in Grade 9 when I was around 14, 15. My church and I went up North to a Cree reserve to host a teens camp. My church and I went to Oujé-Bougoumou. It’s a Northern Cree reserve in Quebec. I saw conditions up there which really convicted me. I told myself I need to make a change because the place I went to was like being in a 3rd-world country (Correction – developing/underdeveloped country) in a 1st world country which is interesting if you think about it. I met random people. The random people that meet you and that you know are the ones that can help you to become who you are today and without them I wouldn’t be here. I only started with 4 people and now we are 85, multiplying towards provinces.
What we want to do is have youth connect with the homeless and take action now. When we could get a lot of youth together and just take action on social justices, we are going to be able to eliminate poverty because we can. Like I feel that the greatest poverty, what poverty really is, is being uncared for and unloved and alienated from society. We are here to change that and to become their friend. Just like my idea with Vision Shelter, the idea is fellowship. People in the streets deserve to be cared for not alienated from society. They are human too.
About Vision Shelter and how it will prepare the homeless to make a living for themselves
A farmer and his crew of farmers wanted to teach agriculture to those who would want to partake. We used to have cooks and other trade people who wanted to teach the homeless and get them back on the street through these trades and survival techniques. And there’s of course, psychological issues. We did have psychologists and psychiatrists who wanted to volunteer. Back then, when I created this idea of having a Vision Shelter, back in August which was a year ago, I said this place would impact a change. Everyone would go in there because it’s like a community centre and you can live in it and you can learn how to go back into society, quickly.
The biggest challenges I’ve faced are financial issues – funding for it and having people tell me you need to do this and that. We are constantly handing out care packages to those on the street, every week. Sometimes, we cancel because of financial issues, since not most of us have a job – we are going to university and in grade 12. We pitch in money together and make these things called care packages which are hygiene stuff, coffee or used clothing. We just put them together and give them to the homeless and interview them – become their friend.
Where do you meet at to give out the care packages?
We have our meetings and meet for care packages usually at the World Exchange Plaza which is on Metcalfe (Ottawa). It is right in front of Parliament Hill. We usually target Metcalfe, Rideau Street and King Edward (Avenue) and Byward market which is where most of them are.
When do you plan to have Castlestone registered?
On October 5th (2015). On my birthday.
How can people contact you?