It’s one thing to assist customers in buying and selling property; it is quite another to develop it, especially in an area accessible only by muddy roads and dirt tracks. But that is exactly what one of Singapore’s largest real estate agencies did recently.
As part of their corporate social responsibility efforts for 2009, PropNex Realty embarked on a year-long programme called PropNex Cares: Ops Kampal. The aim was to fund the building of a school wing for Kampal Village in Cambodia.
Located in an impoverished area of Sandek Commune in Cambodia’s Batheay District, Kampal Village is about two hours’ drive north of Phnom Penh.
“We were already a Leading Enterprise Adopter of the Singapore Children’s Society,” says Mr Adam Tan, Corporate Communications Manager of PropNex. “But we felt that we wanted to look further and do more, reaching out to the needy beyond our shores and who had no one to fight for their cause.”
“During a HOD bonding exercise session one Saturday morning,” he shares, “the idea to build a school was feted, under a 2009 theme of ‘Empowering Future Generations Through Education’. Via the Cambodian Embassy here in Singapore, we were introduced to the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“We went up to Kampal Village for a site visit,” continues Mr Tan, “and we were taken aback by how primitive conditions in the villages were. Besides the fact that there was no running water or electricity, the primary school also had only 10 classrooms to cater to about 750 students. There was severe over-crowding and individual students’ class time was reduced.”
PropNex proceeded to raise funds through staff, associates and partners, to build a new school wing for Kampal Primary School. Donors who gave $50 or more got a coloured tile on which to write their well-wishes for the children. These tiles were then placed onto a large diagrammatic representation of the school wing outside the PropNex office at HDB Hub.
“We wanted to create a very visible method of raising funds,” explains Mr Tan. “Through the coloured tiles, donors could display their contributions and send messages of love and hope to the Cambodian children at the same time.” The entire wall of tiles was later installed in one of the new wing’s classrooms.
All in all, he reveals that the final sum raised was just over $70,000. “We are very heartened by the generosity of our staff and associates, who selflessly gave towards the betterment of those needy children.”
Visiting the school for the opening ceremony, which took place on 16 December 2009, a contingent of 35 staff and associates from PropNex, including some family members, got to paint murals on the new school wing and distribute over 200 cartons worth of donated items from the real estate agents, including biscuits, clothes, water bottles, bags and stationery.
The trip was also a collaborative effort with Hemisphere, a non-profit organisation that seeks to educate the poor on the importance of clean drinking habits, as well as a group of 13 students from Victoria Junior College, fulfilling their Community Involvement commitment.
Supervised by two staff from Hemisphere, the students assembled three water filtration tanks and dispensation systems that had been sponsored by PropNex, to provide clean drinking water for the villagers. The college students also took some time to interact with the Cambodian students by, teaching them origami and playing games such as Captain’s Ball and soccer with them.
“This was certainly a chance to experience something different,” says Adriel, 17, while the other students concurred that this trip of charity was indeed a memorable one.
In addition to the school wing, PropNex also funded the leveling of a marshy area for a playing space, four new restrooms for the children and a small pumping well.
“This has been a truly rewarding experience,” says David Cheng, an Associate Director at PropNex. “I look forward to returning to help other such children next year.”
For enquiries, please contact:
Adam Tan (Corporate Communications Manager) 9006 8726