My first volunteer visit to Zhiguang Special School in Beijing was during the Mid-Autumn Festival in 2008 after joining CapitaLand China. I learnt during volunteer orientation that Zhiguang Special School was a non-profit charitable organisation committed to providing special employment education and professional rehabilitation service for children with intellectual disabilities. Since 1998, Zhiguang has helped hundreds of intellectually-challenged children in their self-care ability and improved their quality of life.
In my memory, Zhiguang Special School was a simple and humble place when I first visited it: tightly-locked red metal doors prevented children from wandering into the streets, a row of poorly-furnished buildings and two old basketball stands. Despite insufficient resources and external support, the Founder and Principal Wang Lijuan has never given up these children since Zhiguang was founded 15 years ago. Reviewing the history of Zhiguang Special School, Principal Wang said, “We want to thank CapitaLand China for giving our children the long-term support and care they need.” The photos of CapitaLand China’s annual volunteers’ visits hang on the wall of the principal’s office.
Since 2006, CapitaLand China volunteers have been visiting Zhiguang Special School, bringing with them love, care and concern for the children as well as necessities of life. The themes for the annual visits varied from “I Have a Dream” in 2007, “Basketball Mania” in 2008, “My Water Bottle” in 2009, “CapitaLand Charity Shop” to “Building for Tomorrow • Hand in Hand 20•10” in 2010.
2013 Mid-Autumn Visit
Last year, I was so happy to be involved in organizing the visit to Zhiguang Special School. About 40 staff volunteers from CapitaLand China participated in the annual visit on 17 September 2013, bringing with us sporting equipment and stationeries donated by CapitaLand Hope Foundation (China) from the CapitaLand Care for Community Grant. Upon our arrival, we were surrounded by warm embraces and intimate greetings from the children. CapitaLand China has truly become like family to the children in Zhiguang.
As part of the programme, the children put together a simple but wonderful show, which aroused the enthusiasm of many first-time volunteers who also joined in the singing and dancing. At the end of the performance, we celebrated Zhiguang’s 15th anniversary with a big cake, bringing laughter and joy to the beneficiaries and volunteers.
The volunteers also joined the beneficiaries in art and sports activities. We were emotionally touched by the beneficiaries’ innocence and vigour, and soon immersed ourselves in the joyful atmosphere.
Building For Tomorrow Charity Sale
During the visit, Principal Wang also gave our volunteers a tour of the school where we viewed their cross-stitch works, the vegetables they planted and other works of art they have created; truly displaying their talents in many ways. I felt like that CapitaLand China has indeed left its marks in these places, and they have become familiar features to senior volunteers like me. After the tour, an idea came to our minds: Why don’t we organise a charity sale of the children’s beautiful handicrafts to promote public awareness of this special group? These children are talented in their own special way, such as ‘young writer’ Zhi Guangyu who wrote a nearly 200,000-word novel and cross-stitch genius Gu Songhuai. They deserve care and appreciation. Zhiguang Special School’s talent needs to be discovered.
A five-day charity sale of the children’s handicrafts was subsequently held at Raffles City Beijing from 23 to 27 September 2013. CapitaLand China volunteers helped to promote the charity sale during lunch breaks and after office hours. On the final day, we even invited the children to demonstrate their handicraft skills, to enable the public to appreciate and get to know them better. It was also aimed to promote social inclusion. In the end, we raised a total of RMB14, 000 for Zhiguang Special School.
We never regarded ourselves as givers to the children at Zhiguang Special School. To quote staff volunteer Li Nan, “The pureness of children here makes me feel like going back to my childhood”. Volunteers also gained something precious from volunteer service. Inspired by CapitaLand Group’s President & CEO, Mr Lim Ming Yan’ words, “We are committed to make every child has an equal opportunity of broadening horizons and enjoying future”, we strongly believe that CapitaLand’s love and support will always accompany Zhiguang Special School for many more years to come.
This article is contributed by YuWen Jie, Senior Executive, Sales and Marketing, CapitaLand China (North China)
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