Drawn to a New Hope

Young Singaporean artist partners CapitaLand to reach out to children in need through art

Issue: Dec 2011

The children at CapitaLand Donghua Hope School in Sichuan, China, were enthused with the visit by Peter Draw
The children at CapitaLand Donghua Hope School in Sichuan, China, were enthused with the visit by Peter Draw

For CapitaLand, it has always been Building People at the heart of its real estate business. Epitomised through its philanthropy arm, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, CapitaLand furthers its corporate social responsibility commitment to build a better future for underprivileged children. In addition, it is also a strong advocate of staff volunteerism, both at home and abroad.

So, when it found a like-minded young man who also had a heart for children, a partnership evolved quite naturally and effortlessly. Peter Draw, whose real name is Peter Zhuo, is a 27-year-old artist. His love for drawing began when he was three and has not abated since. He came from a family with humble means and had to drop out of an art class when he was six because he could not pay the fees. Hence, Draw has always had a soft spot for children in need. He has spent more than a decade inspiring children in over 20 countries with his drawing and encouraging them to pursue their dreams, as well as using his art to raise money for charity.

In 2007, he broke a Guinness World Record for the world's largest caricature. The drawing of international movie star and gongfu master, Jackie Chan, measuring 360 square metres was twice the size of the previous world record. Three years later, he broke another Guinness World Record for the largest art class ever conducted. Nearly 2,000 under privileged children from 14 cities in 12 countries over 33 venues took art lessons from Draw at the same time and learnt not just about art but a life lesson on how special each of them was. Draw was also conferred The Outstanding Young Persons of Singapore Award for his contribution to children, world peace and human rights by Junior Chamber International (JCI) Singapore in 2008. JCI is a worldwide association of young people aged 21 to 40 founded in the US in 1915.

Draw had worked with CapitaLand on a couple of occasions where he used drawings to find out what made children happy and to inspire young people. He had also designed the Hand in Hand 20.10 emblem for CapitaLand’s 10th anniversary celebration. Hand in Hand 20.10 was a community educational programme by CapitaLand Hope Foundation aimed at helping underprivileged children in Singapore and China. The one-line drawing was used to signify the unbroken link between Singapore and China as well as CapitaLand and its partners.

All smiles and signs of victory – the children at CapitaLand Donghua Hope School are already inspired to help others despite their youth and background
All smiles and signs of victory – the children at CapitaLand Donghua Hope School are already inspired to help others despite their youth and background

INSIDE: How did your recent volunteering trip to CapitaLand Donghua Hope School in Sichuan, China turn out?

DRAW: It was an enriching experience. I went there in September this year and spent time with the children by showing them videos and pictures of the other children in the world that I had visited, reading them the story I had written called "Sweetest Gift" and encouraged them to help others no matter their age or background.

I also taught them how to use one-line art and drew them a flower, chilli crab and the Merlion and even showed them how to turn the frown on a boy's face into a smile just with a single line. We celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival as well with some mooncakes. If you were there, you would agree that their smiles were the most beautiful ever when they saw the mooncakes, learnt to draw and heard stories of the other children in the world.

During their break, we played tag and basketball and even sat in their classes for two days. Before I left, they gave me sweets and wrote letters to thank CapitaLand for changing their lives forever.

Letters of love and appreciation to thank CapitaLand seal the commitment and love that the company has for these young lives
Letters of love and appreciation to thank CapitaLand seal the commitment and love that the company has for
these young lives

INSIDE: Why did you return to Sichuan the following month?

DRAW: I was so moved and inspired by them. The children in Sichuan can draw well. They were eager to learn and personally, that was one of the most important things to have. One boy who had never seen a plane before drew this picture of a rocket and said he wished he could visit Singapore one day. I also thought that they would be the best people to encourage the children in Japan. They had gone through so much because of the earthquake. I am planning to use their stories to drive home the message that ‘everything will get better, don't give up on your dreams. I did it, you can too'.

Through art, Draw taught the children in Sichuan to believe in themselves
Through art, Draw taught the children in Sichuan to believe in themselves

INSIDE: How much do you think the children benefited from your visits?

DRAW: I wanted to inspire them to believe that they can make a difference to other people regardless of their background. So I showed them videos and told them touching stories from my travels visiting children around the world. I think what they have learnt is that with nothing more than what they already have - the sweetest gift in them to make other people happy. But the bigger story is how these children in Sichuan will go on to inspire others. I will bring their story to the children when I visit Japan, for example. In return, they have taught me that ‘it's not about our scars, it's all about our heart'.

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