Paying It Forward
Underprivileged children around the world receive hope for a better future
Issue: Nov 2010
Ren Xu Fang, a student at CapitaLand Muchuan Green Hope School, is a spritely young girl who has benefitted from CapitaLand Hope Foundation's efforts to rebuild her school after the earthquake in Sichuan
12-year old Ren Xu Fang now has big dreams when she grows up.
“I went to a big city, Shanghai, for the first time last year. There I saw big, tall, magnificent buildings for the first time in my life! And I want to become an architect when I grow up!” Ren exclaims.
This confident and sprightly young girl very nearly lost hope when she, amongst the many thousands, was robbed of her home and school in the devastating earthquake that rocked China’s Sichuan province in 2008.
Thanks to CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), CapitaLand’s philanthropic arm, Ren and her classmates can continue to pursue their studies and fulfil their dreams. CHF donated US$320,000 (RMB2.2 million) to build a new school in Leshan city, Muchuan county to replace the one that was destroyed.
Reopened in July 2009, the new school is aptly named CapitaLand Muchuan Green Hope School. Since CHF was established in 2005 with the mission to build a better future for underprivileged children, it has built 15 CapitaLand Hope Schools in China.
Ren absolutely loves her new school with its nice new classrooms, gym and even a computer room.
“My favourite place in the school is the library because I love to read and the library is stocked with many books on Chinese history, my country’s development and culture which I’m very interested in,” enthuses Ren, who lives with her father. Her mother left home with her older sister when she was only six years old.
12-year-old Ren Xu Fang (centre) was deeply encouraged to change her attitude towards life and inspired to become an architect following her interaction with Ms Ho Ching, Executive Director & CEO of Temasek Holdings at the “15 Years in China” Celebrations in Shanghai in 2009
Her motivation to learn was spurred following a trip to Shanghai in December 2009 with the school’s principal, Gao Hong. The occasion was to celebrate CapitaLand’s 15 years in China. At the celebrations, Ren met He Nai Nai (Ms Ho Ching, Executive Director and CEO of Temasek Holdings) and Liao Ye Ye (Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group).
“They asked me how school was and if I enjoyed studying in the new school. They also encouraged me to do well in school so that I can go to a big city like Shanghai to work when I grow up,” recalls Ren.
Those few encouraging words made a big difference in Ren’s life.
“After those words of encouragement, Xu Fang’s attitude changed, she became happier, more confident and positive towards everything she did from her studies to her attitude and outlook in life. She’s now aiming to go to university and work in a big city. It has really made a big impact in her life,” Gao notes.
“We are very grateful to the people at CapitaLand for caring about the children in Muchuan. Their efforts in building schools so that these children can be properly educated have made such a difference in the lives of kids like Xu Fang,” an appreciative Gao concludes.
Welcoming a new community hub
Ren’s heartwarming story is just one of many lives CHF has touched around the world. CapitaLand conscientiously gives back in generous ways to the local communities the Group has a strong presence in.
Sean McMahon, head of Australand’s Commercial & Industrial Division, announcing Australand’s support for the rebuilding of the Strathewen Sports Pavilion
The new Strathewen Sports Pavilion when completed in October 2010
In Victoria, Australia, children, youth and the community-at-large can soon welcome a spanking new community centre into its midst. It will house a Sports Pavilion, cricket, tennis and other amenities.
The old centre was sadly razed to the ground by one of the worst bushfires to hit the Australian state of Victoria in 2009.
To help the community get back on its feet, the Australand Foundation, the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand’s Australian subsidiary, Australand, donated up to US$495,557 (A$500,000) in building materials and skills for the rebuilding of the community centre at Strathewen. Employees were also encouraged to undertake volunteering work for this project.
For sports-loving Aussies, the new community centre would be a place where family and friends can gather to play their favourite sports or watch a “live” game in action.
Revving up the vintage with a big heart to raise funds for children with heart disease
Rally From The Heart
What has riding around in luxurious vintage vehicles such as the Jaguars, Aston Martins and Ferraris got to do with saving lives?
Well, plenty, at least for The Ascott Limited (Ascott), a subsidiary of CapitaLand Limited.
In Europe, Ascott rallied six of its corporate clients to participate in the Rallye du Coeur (Heart Rally) organised by the Mécénat Chirugie Cardiaque, an association which raises funds for children with heart disease. Since 2007, Ascott has supported the association in giving children with cardiac malformation a fighting chance by funding their operation in France.
The six corporate clients who participated in the rally were offered the opportunity to ride in luxurious vintage vehicles. Through this race, funds were raised for five children to receive the operation they need in France.
Tree of Hope
Richard Edward Hale, Director of CapitaLand Limited and Chairman of CapitaCommercial Trust Management Limited, presents cheque to representatives from Asian Women’s Welfare Association and Beyond Social Services
Just as an apple tree grows and bears fruit, the Tree of Hope campaign was an effort by CapitaLand Group’s commercial entities, CapitaLand Commercial Limited and CapitaCommercial Trust Management Limited, to get their office tenants and staff to contribute together and help underprivileged children, as part of CapitaLand’s 10th Anniversary activities this year.
The campaign eventually bore fruit, raising S$108,800 to fund the education needs of over 200 underprivileged children from the Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) and Beyond Social Services (BSS).
The amount included CHF’s dollar-for-dollar matching of up to S$50,000. In celebration of the Foundation’s 5th Anniversary this year, CHF targets to donate S$5 million to children’s charities in Singapore and overseas in 2010.
The cheque was presented to the two voluntary welfare organisations at the Tree of Hope Fruition Day held on 1 October 2010 at Wilkie Edge.
Cake cutting with the children in celebration of the Tree of Hope Fruition Day and Children’s Day
The funds raised, to be equally distributed between the two voluntary welfare organisations, will be used to purchase stationery, school textbooks and uniforms as well as to fund bursary awards for the children.
The Tree of Hope campaign brought CapitaLand’s office tenants and staff together in a fun and engaging manner through a series of activities.
On August 14, 2010, the Tree of Hope Play Day saw tenants and CapitaLand staff volunteering to spend time with about 200 children from the two voluntary organisations. It was a day of fun and getting to know the children over activities and entertainment at the activity site in Sembawang.
“It was a meaningful weekend with lots of fun and joy brought to our children by CapitaLand’s office tenants and staff. The most important thing for the children to take away is that the people around them do care and help is available if they asked. It really makes a difference,” says Gerard Ee, Executive Director of Beyond Social Services.
Wei Kaiyin, Social Worker of Asian Women’s Welfare Association Family Services Centre, agrees, “The Tree of Hope campaign is a very good initiative by CapitaLand. They have demonstrated to the children that the society cares and shares in their lives.”
And for those who participated, the experience has been meaningful for them, too.
Felicia Teo, one of CapitaLand’s office tenants who volunteered at the Play Day, reflects, “The Tree of Hope Play Day was a meaningful way for me to spend a weekend with the less fortunate children. I learnt that even though these children do not have a lot of things in life, they are willing to share what they have with other children.”
Apart from the Tree of Hope Play Day, there was an outreach in mid-September 2010 to office tenants to “adopt” a collection of 10 drawings, at a minimum amount of S$1,000 for each drawing, specially created by the underprivileged children to illustrate their hopes and dreams. A 10-day fund-raising drive was also held at 10 commercial properties in Singapore’s CBD, including a hi-tech
industrial property located in the East.
Lynette Leong, Chief Executive Officer of CapitaCommercial Trust Management Limited and Chairperson of the Tree of Hope Organising Committee, sums up, “The Tree of Hope campaign has provided a unique opportunity for an office landlord and its tenants to help the less fortunate children in our society. The success of Tree of Hope campaign is a shared achievement between CapitaLand and our office tenants. We are heartened that, through this synergistic effort, we are able to bring joy and hope, and make a positive difference to these children’s lives.”
And “Hope” is exactly what CapitaLand wants to bring to the underprivileged children for many more years to come, living out its credo of “Building People” everywhere that it plants the CapitaLand flag.