Mission of Hope
After working tirelessly for one year since the Sichuan earthquake, the work by volunteers from CapitaLand is bringing relief to the children caught in the quake.
Issue: Jun 2009
Children of Mianzhu Gongxing CapitaLand Hope School in Sichuan Province of China once again smiling with hope and passion for life
A year after the devastating Sichuan earthquake last May, many wounded souls are healing and striving to move on with their lives. This will be a life-long battle, however, they are not fighting it alone. There are committed volunteers who decided to stay by their side, even when the tragedy no longer makes headline news and their reward is no less than a valuable lesson in courage and gratitude.
Mr Hoon Teck Ming carrying two of the many children CapitaLand is helping.
For CapitaLand China General Manager of Chengdu, Mr Hoon Teck Ming, father of three, it was a poem titled Don't Cry Dad
written as the last words of a deceased child that first brought his heart to the children of Sichuan. He shares an excerpt:Don't cry Dad
Don't hold onto my tiny body
For it now lacks the warmth it had
I am no longer breathing, my heart no longer beats
Please put me in clothes I used to love
And bring me books I loved to read
If there is a school in heaven, I will tell you my grades in your dreams
Mr Mao Da Qing giving out Beijing Olympic Fuwa souvenirs to the children in Mianzhu City during his visit to the affected area in July 2008.
And he was not the only one in CapitaLand to pour his heart out for those in pain. The CapitaLand Hope Foundation donated 5 million RMB and continued to raise funds for disaster relief, while 10 Chengdu staff joined government aid groups visiting Mianyang.
Mr Liew Mun Leong, President & CEO, CapitaLand Limited; Mr Lim Ming Yan, CEO, CapitaLand China; Mr Jason Leow, Deputy CEO, CapitaLand China and Mr Mao Da Qing, Regional General Manager of Bohai Economic Rim, CapitaLand China also led staff on visits to affected areas, overseeing the building of a total of six hope schools* including a temporary school in Sichuan and bringing much needed care and material aid to victims.
Bringing Knowledge, Support and Smiles to the Children
While provisions and presents have been flown in from around the world, Hoon feels that the most urgent need of the children is not material - having lost their families, it is spiritual comfort and encouragement they need to recover from the trauma. In view of this, a campaign was organised by CapitaLand China last June in which children throughout China were encouraged to send their regards to their less fortunate peers.
About 4,000 submissions in forms of letters, poems and paintings were received and selected entries were compiled into a book advocating awareness on education and mental recovery of victims, which was sent to the affected children as a token of love and support. More recently, Hoon was also involved in a programme that provides art education and scholarships for affected students. "I find it very meaningful to be able to help the affected kids in the long run and on a spiritual level," says Hoon. "To rekindle their hope for living is a remarkable and substantial mission."
Disney on Ice artists visiting Dujiangyan Puyang Town in December 2008, bringing gifts, fun and love to the children
As notable as his unwavering efforts are, Hoon makes them with a humble heart and his only regret is not being able to spend more time with his unfortunate friends. To make up for this, he tries to bring as many colleagues, journalists, partners and clients with him as possible on every visit, hoping that they will also develop a caring and committed relationship with the children.
During the Chengdu premiere of Disney On Ice last December, CapitaLand, sponsor of the show, took the opportunity to organise a special performance for the affected children and invited 10 Disney artists to join a visit to the devastated area, bringing with them 200,000 RMB in donations and other presents. The children enjoyed a fun day of dancing and singing and Hoon and his colleagues joined in the dances, promising more aid and support in the future.
Mr Liew Mun Leong, President & CEO, CapitaLand Limited interacting with the children at the temporary school in Mianzhu Gongxing Town
Currently, one of CapitaLand's hope schools is already completed; three are being built and plans for two more are underway to meet the pledge of Premier Wen Jiabao that all the affected children can expect a place in a new school by 1 September 2009. Each of these schools will be equipped with their own hope libraries that will give students convenient access to knowledge. These hope libraries will be named after the home owners of The Loft, CapitaLand's first residential project in Chengdu, as a token sum of 200 RMB from the sales dollars of every sold unit this year will be donated by CapitaLand China to the building of these facilities.
Drawing by Jia Zhao Hong, a Primary Four student from Beijing Haidian District Tuqiang Primary School. This is one of the drawings of encouragement from children in other parts of China that was published in a book entitled "For a Better Tomorrow".
Hoon playing table-tennis (equipment donated by CapitaLand) with the children at the temporary school built by CapitaLand in Mianzhu Gongxing town during the visit in April 2009
Visiting the kids at affected areas again in April this year, Hoon says, "The Chinese government has done a lot in rebuilding the region after the earthquake and we witness striking improvement in victims' living conditions on every single visit. Everyone is full of hope, especially the kids, and they're once again smiling with innocence and happiness - this is what makes me happy the most."
While the kids look forward to better lives ahead, Hoon says over the past year he has also learnt much from the work he has done for them. "The kids there have the greatest gratitude for the smallest things and after so many visits, we've become good friends … They've not only touched me but also inspired great respect in me. Despite the disaster that fell on them, they've maintained hope and passion for life.
"I find them much stronger than me and I'm happy to continue my care and support for them. I hope they'll grow up healthily and I have a lot to learn from them about hopefulness and perseverance in life, as well as gratitude and simple happiness," concludes Uncle Hoon, as he is now known to the children. "It appears that we are helping the kids, but when you see the kids smile while doing all these things, you'll realise that the satisfaction, impact and spiritual reward are enormous. We gain so much in giving."