A Vacation Well Spent

CapitaLand staff take a holiday with a difference helping children at SOS Children’s Village in Jakarta

Issue: Dec 2012

All smiles for the CapitaLand staff who volunteered to help at the SOS Children’s Village in Jakarta
All smiles for the CapitaLand staff who volunteered to help at the SOS Children’s Village in Jakarta

Like most mothers, mornings are the busiest times for Christine. She has to make sure her six school-going children have their breakfast and get to school on time. Then, she tends to her youngest, two-year-old Joel. With seven children in her care, the oldest being 18, every day is a mad rush. But unlike most mothers, Christine is a foster mother at SOS Children’s Village in Jakarta, Indonesia, a job she has had for the past 17 years.

Christine and two-year-old Joel whom she loves like her own; Joel came to the village when he was just four months old
Christine and two-year-old Joel whom she loves like her own; Joel came to the village when he was just four months old

“I am their mother, father, teacher, and caregiver. I cook for them, take care of them when they are sick, do the housework, supervise their homework. I do everything anything a mother does,” said 47-year-old Christine. “I may not be married but I have many children. I love them like my own.”

SOS Children’s Village is a foster home with a difference. Located in Cibubur on the outskirts of Jakarta, it takes in abandoned children and orphans. These children are placed in group homes so they can experience family life. There are 15 houses each with five to 12 children of different races, religions and backgrounds. In all, the village cares for 137 children and also runs a kindergarten for the children and those in the neighbourhood.

Since 2010, CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), CapitaLand’s philanthropic arm, has been partnering Ascott International Management Indonesia (AIMI) to support the educational needs of the children at the village. Together, they pay for their school fees and educational materials like textbooks and stationery. They have also sponsored an outdoor multi-purpose court.

Apart from financial help, CHF also extends care to the community through group-wide volunteer expeditions as part of their ‘Building People’ credo. This year, 28 CapitaLand employees spent five days at SOS Children’s Village, immersing themselves in the activities and lives of the community there.

“I signed up for this expedition because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of these children. I know the income disparity in the city so I think they really need our help,” said Diane Aw, Senior Executive, Leasing Singapore, CapitaMalls Asia, who had been on a previous overseas volunteer trip to Shanghai.

For its numerous corporate social responsibility efforts in the communities that it has presence in, CapitaLand has won the Most Admired ASEAN Enterprise for Corporate Social Responsibility (Large Company) at the ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2012.

“CapitaLand is pleased to be accorded the award. We are committed to contributing positively towards the communities we operate in. This is done through philanthropy, staff volunteerism, green initiatives and environmental conservation. Through our philanthropic arm, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, we support underprivileged children in their shelter, education and healthcare needs. CapitaLand allocates up to 0.5% of its annual net profit to the Foundation. Since 2005, the Foundation has donated more than S$17 million to support underprivileged children across Asia. ‘Building People’ is our credo and part of our CapitaDNA. Together with our stakeholders and the community-at-large, we will continue to work towards building a better, sustainable future for generations to come,” said Tan Seng Chai, Deputy Chief Corporate Officer, CapitaLand Limited.

Time for Work

CapitaLand volunteers gardening and braving heights to paint the outdoor multi-purpose court
CapitaLand volunteers gardening and braving heights to paint the outdoor multi-purpose court

One of the first things the volunteers did when they arrived at the village was to help paint the fence surround the compound. Old and rusty, it was sorely in need of a makeover. The volunteers spent the better part of the day sandpapering then painting the fence a lovely blue. Even the walls of the village and the newly-constructed multi-purpose court were given a new coat of paint. They also chipped in to clear the weeds in the area, trim the shrubs, loosen the soil in the garden and clean up the pathway to spruce up the village.

“It has been a long time, almost 20 years, since I had done anything like this. It was difficult. We come from a concrete jungle and we had to bear with the mosquitoes and flies but it was worth it to create a better living environment for the children,” said fellow volunteer, Ahmad Bin Halil, Senior Technician at Capital Tower, CapitaLand Commercial Limited.

Time to Learn

Children at the village learning to dance and interacting with CapitaLand staff
Children at the village learning to dance and interacting with CapitaLand staff

The children were also given arts and crafts, dance, music, English and cultural lessons. Most of them had never been out of the city, much less the country, and took in the lessons on Asian geography, cuisine, traditional costumes and leaders with much enthusiasm.

“I gave them a quiz about Asian culture: the flags, landmarks, food and such and they children were all so eager to participate that they couldn’t wait to be picked. Many just shouted out the answers. I am so happy the children enjoyed the session. This is a great volunteering opportunity for us, staff, to engage these underprivileged children.” said Zhou Zhong Yuan, Executive, Shanghai Design Management, CapitaLand China Holdings.

CapitaLand staff did not just conduct activities, they made a real connection with the children
CapitaLand staff did not just conduct activities, they made a real connection with the children

One volunteer made a real connection with a child he met.

“11-year-old Winda left a real impression because she reminds me of my own daughter. She is very clear and chatty. After our art lesson, she gave me her painting as a gift. That really touched me,” said Agus Setiono, Health Club Supervisor, Ascott Jakarta, Indonesia. “My nephew is an artist and I intend to bring him here to give Winda art lessons.”

The children were also taught a song and dance item which they performed with the volunteers on the final day of the trip.

“That was the most memorable part of the trip for me. It was so heart-warming to see people of different nationalities, and ethnicity coming together in song and dance even though some don’t even speak the same language,” said Halil.

Time for Play

Fun and play at Sports Day for the children at the village
Fun and play at Sports Day for the children at the village

The volunteers organised a Sports Day for the children as well with soccer, badminton, and basketball matches. They were also invited to the homes to meet the foster mothers.

“During the home visit, we met one mother that raised 17 children in all. I was so touched by her selfless dedication, and loving spirit which knew no boundaries,” said Zhou.

“On the last day, the children followed to the bus to say their goodbyes. Some even gave us volunteers hugs and kisses and from the bus, we could still see them calling our names, waving and shouting ‘I love you!’ said Halil.

On the last day, children and volunteers performed an item they had learnt just days before
On the last day, children and volunteers performed an item they had learnt just days before

Although the volunteers were bone-weary from the physical effort of the expedition, their spirits were certainly lifted at the thought of the lives they had touched. Truly, it was time well-spent in making a better future for these children.

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