We want to see and feel where our money are going.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics is raising money to help fund the Baan Jing Jai Children's Home in Chon Buri, Thailand, as part of an employee-led Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. Trond Tonjum, Vice President, Global Commercial, is one of the people leading the project.
“An important part of Corporate Social Responsibility is that, by doing good business, we’re actually able to do good,” he says. “When WWL started looking for a project for the wider community, it was important for us to find one in which we could really see and feel where our money was going. At Baan Jing Jai, our contributions make a real difference to these children’s daily lives.”
The Baan Jing Jai Children’s Home in Chon Buri, Thailand, is home to more than 80 orphaned or abandoned children, aged from nine months to 18 years. Since 1992, when General Manager, Khun Piangta, started providing a “drop-in” shelter for the city’s street children, the project has grown steadily and now occupies three buildings in which the children are housed.
Late 2010 saw the beginnings of a project to construct a facility to accommodate more than 100 children. The cost of the new building, which has been designed free of charge by an international firm of architects, is estimated at 18.5 million Thai baht (just under EUR 500,000).
Last year, employees at the WWL Head Office in Norway and the offices in Stockholm and Gothenburg started raising money for Baan Jing Jai – both to fund the new housing project and to provide support to enable gifted youngsters to attend school or university. With 40 percent of the employees in Norway and Sweden already contributing to the project, Tonjum is confident that WWL and its employees will help the new children’s home become a reality.
“This year, more WWL offices in other countries will be joining the initiative,” he continues. “We’ve already raised enough to start the project and, with the company’s commitment to equalling any donations made by the employees, we’re confident that all the necessary funds will have been raised by 2014, together with other sponsors.”
Portjanee and Awapha are both 16 years old. They are bright students who plan to attend university when they finish high school in two years’ time. Portjanee, who has lived at Baan Jing Jai since she was four, wants to become an air stewardess, while Awapha dreams of becoming a pharmacist. Both girls receive the funding needed to attend a private school from WWL.
As activities of this kind receive no public funding or benefits in Thailand, initiatives such as Baan Jing Jai depend entirely on private donations. According to Khun Piangta, the new building will provide better facilities as she and her colleagues seek to rehabilitate and educate more children like Portjanee and Awapha.
“First and foremost, it will enable us to take better care of the children,” she says. “Security will also be improved – now, there are busy roads outside the temporary home, whereas the new home will provide a playground, as well as a library, music room, TV room and play room. Finally, with more bedrooms and only four children per room, the older children will be given the opportunity to take more responsibility for themselves.”
On February 3, a ceremony was held to lay the foundation stone for the new home. With construction work now underway, the new building is set for completion in mid-2014. Jessy Linde, Claims Manager from WWL Sweden and Trond Tonjum attended the event and were impressed by what they saw.
“Progressive businesses these days don’t exist purely for the sake of turning a profit,” says Tonjum. “We also need to find ways of ensuring that what we do has a positive impact on the world around us. This means minimising our environmental impact and acting in accordance with international codes of conduct. It’s also crucial to find ways of giving something back to the developing countries in which we operate.”
Being a responsible business
Social and community initiatives are an important part of WWL’s commitment to responsible business and the company’s offices around the world are engaged in a variety of projects. These include a project launched by WWL’s Mid-Atlantic Terminal in Baltimore, USA, to deliver Thanksgiving meals to local families in need, and WWL Australia, which is raising funds for cancer research and promoting cancer awareness, through the Cancer Council in Australia’s “Daffodil Day” and the international “Movember” initiative.