A wine-guessing game at Cafe de la Poste. (Photo provided to China Daily)
November in Beijing is special for Jim Boyce, a time when he puts his heart into a project for which the rewards are spiritual rather than material.
Two years ago, Boyce a Canadian who lives in Beijing and who is well known for his long-running wine blog Grape Wall of China, met a man who made bagels at a wine-tasting event and asked him: "Will you give me one mao (1.5 cents) for every bagel you sell?"
"I just thought it was a fun thing at first, and then more people joined in, giving a little of what they sold," Boyce says.
The concept has since developed into a hot-ticket charity event, Maovember.
"Mao" refers to the bank notes, worth one-tenth of a yuan, and Maovember is a play on Movember, the global campaign in which men grow mustaches to raise awareness of and research funds for prostate cancer and other health issues.
For Maovember, a mustache-favoring charity that holds fun events through the month, all proceeds go to fund cataract surgeries for elderly men in rural China via Orbis, a global organization that works on preventing and treating avoidable blindness.
Maovember distinguishes itself from many other dinners or meals in the field by holding its events in smaller, entrepreneurial bars, and by emphasizing the element of fun.
"I like the idea of bringing many a small company together, and we do something with clear results," Boyce says. "With every 800 yuan raised we can help do one cataract surgery for a rural man via Orbis."
Last year Maovember's goal was to raise 20,000 yuan and fund cataract surgery (at 800 yuan per operation) for 25 elderly men in rural China. In the end it raised more than 105,000 yuan to fund more than 130 operations.