Social Sabbatical in Chengdu – Children’s Smiles
I thought I could add another perspective on the admirable SAP Social Sabbatical program writing from the 2nd of 4 weeks in Chengdu as part of team Grasshoppers. This is a “mid-size” Chinese city in the South-West with ca. 14 million! people and capital of Sichuan province. It is a modern and for China surprisingly green metropolis with shining towers and impressive infrastructure (and fantastic food). The roads are bumper to bumper with Maseratis, Porsches, Bentleys & Ferraris and the luxury boutiques seem still to be doing good business here. At first I found myself wondering what kind of social support would really be needed here – but please read on. We are a team of 12 from all corners of the SAP world and assigned in groups of 3 to 4 different projects. I am working with Florencia from Argentina and Rahul from India for charitable foundation called Yinghuo (www.yinghuo.org). Yinghuo in Chinese means firefly or firefly light and there is a saying that many fireflies together create a big shining light. The organization is very small (6 people) and they run educational, pastoral support, nutrition and other programs for children in remote rural areas of SW China including ethnic minority (Tibetan) communities. There is a huge gap between the mega-cities and the countryside where basic infrastructure and amenities are often lacking or not there at all. There is also the phenomenon of the “left behind children” – an estimated 62 million kids whose parents leave them to seek work in another region or city mostly visiting for a few days only once a year. The majority are left with relatives but several million are alone to fend for themselves. Our main task for Yinghuo is to assess and recommend changes for their flagship “Youth Growth” Program. This program organizes and sponsors educational and pastoral care Summer and Winter camps of around 2 weeks that are run by volunteer university students toegether with local rural schools and communities. Yinghuo trains the volunteers, provides curricula and curriculum materials and finances the logistics for the camps. In 2015 they already supported over 50 camps reaching over 5,000 children. These are links to just 3 videos made by the volunteer groups of camps last year. http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTMxMzk5NDI5Mg==.html55 http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTMyMTg0OTkzMg==.html http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTMxNjA5ODk4MA==.html
It is the children’s smiles that motivate the volunteers and the teams. Of course this program also provides huge benefits for the University students who receive training & experience too. This is the Yinghuo team and a couple of pictures from a volunteer recruitment event at Sichuan University – also of course including an obligatory selfie with the volunteers and applicants as well as the equally obligatory Sichuan Hotpot…
It is my hope and aim that by the end of our time here – we can really deliver some sustainable value to the Yinghuo team that will help them put more smiles on more faces and I am very grateful to SAP for this opportunity and for being so supportive and to allow me to take the time off regular work for this experience.
SAP CSR Rocks!