Carriers of Love and Hope

CapitaMall Asia's "My First Schoolbag" programme brings smiles and cheers to 17,000 underprivileged children in China with over 400 staff volunteers

Issue: Oct 2011

Artist impression of Plaza Singapura and The Atrium @Orchard
The first day of school was incredibly memorable for 200 Primary One underprivileged students at Hong Shan School as they received the first schoolbag in their lives

Hong Shan School in Chaoyang District, Beijing, was abuzz with activities on 1 September 2011, the start of a new school year in China. 200 Primary One students each received a brand new schoolbag filled with stationery on their first day of school. For many of them, this was the first schoolbag in their lives. Hence, this gift was more than just basic school items; what it signified was a gift of love and hope from the society to start their formal education.

Photo of launch ceremony
Secretary of Secretariat of All-China Women's Federation, Deputy president of China Children and Teenagers' Fund, Miss Fan Jiying, with CapitaMall Asia (China) CEO, Mr Lock Wai Han, at the launch of "My First Schoolbag" at Hong Shan School in Beijing

This kind gesture was extended by CapitaMall Asia (China) through its "My First Schoolbag" programme. Supported by CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), this corporate social responsibility programme ran on a larger scale compared to last year, reaching out to 17,000 Primary One underprivileged children from over 200 schools across 17 provinces in China on their first day of school. CHF has also extended this programme to Malaysia, India and Japan, in addition to Singapore and China. (See Spreading the Season's Joy with My Schoolbag). In addition, a record 462 staff volunteers from CapitaMall Asia (China) participated in the programme this year.

"We had received very positive feedback and recognition for our efforts in the inaugural "My First Schoolbag" programme last year. This year, we have extended the programme to reach 17,000 Primary One underprivileged children from over 200 schools across 17 provinces in China. As part of our continual efforts to encourage staff's participation in corporate social responsibility activities, we have motivated our staff to participate in this programme through one way or another - simply to show these underprivileged children that we care for them as they embark on their education. We have plans to organise this as a long-term, sustainable corporate social responsibility programme," said Mr Lock Wai Han, CapitaMall Asia (China) CEO.

Happy children with their first Schoolbags
The bags of hope and joy will go a long way in helping these children as they embark on this momentous journey of their young lives

Volunteers teaching and playing outdoor games with the children

Volunteers teaching and playing outdoor games with the children
Despite the hard work, staff volunteers found meaning through the various ways they participated in the "My First Schoolbag" programme

A Confident Start

After the launch ceremony, the staff volunteers conducted various classes for the children, which included English, Art and Environmental lessons, amongst others. Laughter filled the air as the staff volunteers played a variety of interesting outdoor games with the children on the school grounds, making the first day of school truly rich and meaningful for both students and volunteers.

"When I saw the kids hold up their finished works [of art] and telling us how happy they were that day, for the first time in my life, I realised it was so meaningful to be a volunteer!" said Tong Jia, Legal Manager of CapitaMalls Asia (China).

The high volunteer sign-up rate should come as no surprise as the CapitaLand Group always encourages its employees to do their part for the underprivileged children. Every year, CapitaLand employees are given three days of paid volunteer service leave to participate in such meaningful ventures to promote staff volunteerism.

A Brighter Future

"While these children benefited from the new school bags, staff volunteers like us received a gift of joy through our participation in this programme, "said Chen Xin, Investment and Asset Management Manager of CapitaMall Asia (China).

Shan Dan, Human Resource Deputy General Manager of CapitaMall Asia (China), too was inspired by her volunteer experience and the joy that came from the children, "Owning one's very first schoolbag brings smile to the face of a child. Although children can't express the joy they feel in their hearts, you can feel their joy and happiness by looking at their tender little faces. I really hope these brilliant smiles on their faces will continue to accompany them in their life journey and more people in the community will care about these special children, giving them support and encouragement as they grow."

Hands up as the children show off their fruits of labour on the first day of school
Hands up as the children show off their fruits of labour on the first day of school

And judging from the twinkle in their eyes, it is no doubt these children's lives are already touched by the kindness of the community – an act that will give these young ones a little morale boost as they embark on this significant step in their lives.

Children with big smiles on faces
Happy and confident, these children are all raring to start their first year of formal education

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