Volunteers' Experience

Crystal Deng Xiu Wei

The Ascott Limited, Singapore

Crystal has travelled to Inner Mongolia and Sichuan in China to impart knowledge to the CapitaLand Hope School students. She composed a song “Song of Hope” for volunteers to sing and spur the students on. 

“I wrote the song to be sung by volunteers to encourage the children not to give up as there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I was inspired to volunteer because I have a passion in helping children. Since young, I got to know about the plight of the children living in the mountainous region through TV programmes, and they led a different life from children in the cities. I first went CapitaLand Xingfuzhilu Hope School, Inner Mongolia in 2011 and a little girl left a deep impression on me. Asked for her ambition when she grows up, she said she wants to be a pianist. I was awed by her big dreams. Hence, when the company needs volunteers to teach the students at CapitaLand Longdong Hope School in Sichuan, I volunteered to bring music lessons to the children. The school does not have a professional music teacher, and I believe the exposure I have given them will plant the seed for love of music among the talented children.” 

Pham Ngoc Thanh Ngan

CapitaLand Vietnam

Pham Ngoc Thanh Ngan, Investment and Asset Management Snr Executive from CapitaLand Vietnam, is based in Ho Chi Minh City. She has been volunteering actively since her college days in the United Kingdom. She was responsible for choreographing the Vietnamese dance with her colleagues during the CapitaLand Xingfuzhilu Hope School volunteer expedition 2011 in China. Locally, she volunteers at the company’s activities, such as Swimming Day for underprivileged children, and interacting with hearing-impaired children at the Thanh Khe Hope Village in Da Nang province. 

“Despite not speaking Mandarin, I decided to join CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF)’s volunteer expedition to China because it was an opportunity to try something new.  I was intrigued by the expedition’s theme of ‘Building for Tomorrow. Sharing the Love’, and I love interacting with adorable children.  I was also attracted by the location (Inner Mongolia), a remote place that promised culture discoveries to be made.  The week-long trip proved to be extraordinary.  The schoolchildren had so much fun with the two Trong Com (rice drums) we brought.  One of the girls secretly slipped a present into my pocket— a small wooden necklace face with Chinese characters meaning ‘good person’ written on it.  I was touched by her gesture to express her gratitude for volunteers.  I remembered one evening, my volunteer partner Yang Shuling and I went to visit a class during evening revision period with sweets.  Although the kids were delighted, none made a single move out of their seats.  We placed the sweets at each table and the well-behaved children murmured ‘thank you’ and turned back to their homework.  I am proud to be part of an organisation with good intentions and real efforts to make a lasting impact, to share our fortunes in a way that would only multiply them. ”

Sharon Liew

CapitaLand Limited, Singapore

Sharon Liew, Senior Executive of IT Information Security & Governance, has been an avid volunteer in her leisure time and aspires to inspire to join her in meaningful causes. She went to China to improve the facility of CapitaLand Longdong Hope School, volunteers at the Singapore Cancer Society and is a volunteer police officer. She also delights in seeing her sponsored child from World Vision programme grown up into a school-going teenage girl. 

“I’ve always enjoyed volunteering and I love to be around kids. I think it’s a great idea for CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF) to initiate the CapitaKids Programme (CKP) as it is not easy for a kid to grow up in a single parent family. My best friend is one, so I can see the difficulties that she encountered and most importantly, the challenges that my godson is facing while growing up. This is why I volunteered to be a CKP mentor because I feel children from single parent families need listening ears other than their kin. I also volunteered for a week at the CapitaLand Longdong Hope School in China which really widens my horizons. Although the children in remote areas have inadequate resources but it did not stifle their thirst to learn and zest for life. They are happy, contented and are very determined to study hard to break out of the poverty circle. Their strong will to survive and succeed in life really left a deep impression and inspires me to do more. I believe a simple act from a volunteer may change a kid’s life in whatever small ways.” 

Sun Yan

CapitaMalls Asia, China

Marketing and Communications Deputy General Manager of CapitaMalls Asia in South China, Sun Yan has a young child and going on a volunteer expedition to CapitaLand Xingfuzhilu Hope School in Inner Mongolia has opened her horizons and she applauds the resilience of the students. 

“During my 1-week volunteer teaching stint in the school, I met a Primary 3 Mongolian girl Gao You Han. She lives with her grandparents and her grandfather is the family's sole breadwinner. Her mother died in a car accident and her father has disappeared since. She has been doing her own laundry and cleaning up after herself. Despite all this, Gao is an exemplary student, a gifted singer and dancer. Her difficult childhood seems to have made her stronger. When we visited her home which is no larger than 10 square metres, there were only a few pieces of furniture, and her only toy is a handheld learning device; but the walls were decorated by the certificates she had won in school. When one of the volunteers donated a camera to her, she sang a song for us in appreciation. Such a young girl who can thrive under such difficult circumstances and be happy and mature! With an education, she hopes for a better future. I am keeping in touch with some of the children I’ve met and will help them wherever I can.”

Philip James Barnes 

The Ascott Limited, the Philippines

Philip James Barnes is the Residence Manager of Somerset Olympia in the Philippines. He has helped to build CapitaLand Nang Yen Primary Hope School in Vietnam, and he is the Corporate Social Responsibility Champion for The Ascott Limited’s Philippines cluster. Under his leadership, the cluster has gone to impoverished areas in the Philippines to donate school supplies, food and taught the children about green environment. With the support of CapitaLand Hope Foundation, they are committed to helping a small school in one of the poorest regions in Philippines through donation and regular visits. In the past, he has supported Plan International and World Vision in his personal capacity. 

“Volunteering has been a big part of my life. When I was growing up (I stayed in Hong Kong and Malaysia before), my mother would donate toys and clothes that I no longer need to charity organisations every year. She took the opportunity to show me how these items that I have neglected could really make other children happy. Now, when I garner my colleagues’ help to go for volunteer expeditions, I find the trips amazingly inspirational—seeing the children smile and learning the local games make me understand how simple things in life could mean so much more. Recently, I participated in the company’s volunteer activity in Singapore where we brought underprivileged children to GardenAsia park, and I was tasked to look after a Filipino and an Indian boy. They both come from different family backgrounds, but referred to each other as ‘brothers’. Watching them bond with each other was joyous, and it was really touching when I got this big hug and ‘we will miss you Uncle Philip’ parting words at the end of the activity. However, when I am in touch with underprivileged children, I am also saddened to learn about their plight. As a volunteer, I would like them to keep smiling, don’t focus on negative thoughts, and I always encourage them to pursue and achieve their dreams.”