In March 2016, over 50 CapitaLand staff volunteers and senior management ventured to one of the most impoverished provinces in Vietnam to make a difference to the lives of about 200 young children and their families. Phu Tho in North Vietnam is home to CapitaLand Nang Yen Primary Hope School, which CapitaLand helped build with a VND2.2 billion (S$140,000) donation in 2011 to fund the construction of new school buildings and facilities.
Back then, CapitaLand organised an International Volunteer Expedition to Phu Tho, with staff putting the final touches on the school’s new facilities — which included a two-storey block with 10 classrooms, a library-cum-reading room and upgraded equipment for outdoor activities — and welcoming children from the surrounding villages to their new school.
Five years on, CapitaLand organised another International Volunteer Expedition to the school to rejuvenate the learning environment for a growing student population as part of its commitment to give back to the community even as its business in Vietnam grows.
Over five days, volunteers refurbished the school compound, patched up damaged walls and refurbished the school library with more shelves and books gathered from the community through a donation drive organised by local staff.
To the delight of students, our volunteers also spruced up the school with colourful murals. “I love to go to school every day because, with CapitaLand’s support, my school is built beautifully. I really like the wall that CapitaLand painted. It makes school more fun for my friends and I,” said student Hoang Thu Ngan.
With the ‘hardware’ in place, volunteers also spent time engaging the children with a series of educational activities including sports sessions, art and craft workshops and CapitaLand’s signature Little Architect Programme. The latter is a specially designed lesson to enable children to learn about buildings in a simple yet fun manner.
Mr Lim Ming Yan, President & Group CEO of CapitaLand, led the expedition and gamely participated in the Little Architect Programme. He said: “We are trying to help these young children prepare for a brighter future and break out of the poverty trap. Education is one main area we focus on, since this can help improve their quality of life. Healthcare and living conditions are the two other areas where we try to help.”
Building People. Building Communities.
CapitaLand Nang Yen Primary Hope School is one of two CapitaLand Hope Schools in Vietnam currently and will soon be joined by a third. This was revealed by Mr Lim during a courtesy call to Mr Hoang Trung Hai, Secretary of the People’s Committee of Hanoi and member of the Politburo, during his time in Vietnam.
“We are committed to Vietnam for the long term, so as we grow our business here, we want to continue giving back to the community,” said Mr Lim. “A third CapitaLand Hope School in northern Vietnam will add to our current total of 27 across Asia. These efforts are part of CapitaLand’s on-going commitment to building communities in countries where we operate.”
CapitaLand Hope Schools are part of an initiative by CapitaLand Hope Foundation, the Group’s philanthropic arm, to create conducive learning environments for children in rural communities. By building new schools and enhancing existing ones, CapitaLand Hope Foundation has touched the lives of over 13,000 children to date.
At least twice a year, International Volunteer Expeditions are organised for staff to visit and participate in projects that CHF supports.
“The International Volunteer Expedition to Vietnam has been a very meaningful experience. To me, love transcends nationalities and cultural boundaries. All of us come from diverse countries and backgrounds but we are working towards a common goal — to help the children and improve their future,” shared Hu Zhi Yong, a staff volunteer from CapitaLand China.
To encourage volunteerism among its staff, CapitaLand has put in place a three-day Volunteer Service Leave policy, which allows staff to enjoy paid leave to do volunteer work. Once a staff member utilises all three days of Volunteer Service Leave in a year, CapitaLand Hope Foundation recognises their social contributions with a S$500 or RMB1,000 donation to a local charity of their choice.