Bata Children’s Program Pakistan: helping children with disabilities to thrive
A main area of focus for the Bata Children’s Program (BCP) in Pakistan is to support education for children with intellectual disabilities. The objective is to enable these children to be autonomous and to have access to a professional career.
Through volunteering, equipping classrooms, and advocating for the cause, BCP Pakistan provides students with the opportunity to progress and thrive.
As part of their most recent work, the Pakistan team worked with the renowned Rising Sun Institute in Lahore. This school provides education, speech therapy, hydro-and-sensory integration therapy, physiotherapy and vocational training to more than 500 children with intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy. BCP Pakistan delivered chairs, tables, racks and other materials needed to furnish classrooms and make them comfortable and suitable learning environments.
Mrs Almas, the mother of a Rising Sun Institute student, said of the program: “I appreciate Bata Children’s Program’ efforts in helping our intellectually disabled children to become a strong, healthy and functional part of the society. As parents, we feel that we are not alone in this battle thanks to reputable organizations like Bata.”
BCP India Celebrates National Independence Day with Adopted Schools
One of the most important celebrations on the Indian calendar is that of the country's Independence Day, as the occasion holds great significance for the nation's people. This year, volunteers from the Bata Children's Program (BCP) India, visited BCP-adopted schools in order to help them mark the important day with a range of activities and events.
Independence Day in India is celebrated every year on August 15, and this year, for its 72nd anniversary, a team from BCP India commemorated the event with around 1,800 school children from four BCP schools in Gurgaon, Batanagar and Bataganj.
A total of 50 volunteers took part in the event across the three regions, where they spent time with the children from the BCP-adopted schools and also helped with distribution of gifts and packets of sweets that had been prepared for the participants.
The celebrations themselves began with the hoisting of the national flag, as well as a vibrant march past by the school children. The students then presented colorful cultural items to mark the occasion, including traditional songs and dances. Several of the children had also prepared speeches about the significance of Independence Day in India to read to those present, providing important historical and cultural information about the event.
During the event, one of the regular BCP India volunteers, Ms. Hema from the SIS team, addressed the gathering of children in order to give them some advice about the importance of their education, stating: “It is so important to come to school everyday and study sincerely because education is a powerful tool for change. If you are educated, you will earn a respectable life. I am so happy to see all of you studying well.”
BCP India Holds Workshops to Encourage Children to Explore Science
One of the pillars of the Bata Children's Program (BCP) is to help improve education in regions in which the company is present. To this end, Bata India has recently been involved in a project designed to help teach children science in a more fun and accessible way.
Amongst its various educational projects, BCP India has an umbrella program focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics (STEM), aimed at improving conceptual clarity among children and enabling them to use technology. One of the projects that makes up part of this program is “I Love Science”, an initiative started by Ingenuity Edulabs, a private company specialized in developing new educational methods.
The project is a unique science education model, conceptualized and designed to help children develop an interest in science while also having fun, and its main focus is to provide hands-on science experiments for children, using low cost materials in order to make the project available to as many schools as possible.
In order to assess the feasibility and potential success of the program, it began with a test phase involving just a few students at a single school, but after receiving positive feedback from teachers and children alike, the sessions were scaled up to include three schools with around 400 kids from classes four to eight.
On August 8, 15 volunteers from the BCP India visited one of these schools, the Government Girls Primary School in Sector 17C, Gurgaon, to assist the children as part of a workshop conducted on the topic of “Structures and Shapes”. The session was run by representatives from the “I Love Science” project, and was attended by around 70 girls from classes four and five. Small science kits were also distributed to the children to allow them to conduct the practical sessions, which delighted the children involved, as they were able to discover science in a completely new and engaging way.
Hemlata Bisht from the Bata India sourcing team, who was one of the BCP volunteers on the day, commented: “Children have an inbuilt fear to learn science. I am glad that these sessions are conducted for the children as they teach the concepts in a fun manner which involves letting the children practice hands-on. The children enjoyed the experience immensely, as did the volunteers. This is a very nice way to teach the children; I wish we could have had an opportunity in our school to learn like this!”
BCP Bangladesh Assists with National Vitamin A Plus Campaign
The Bata Children's Program (BCP) believes in helping to improve the health of the people, especially children, in the local communities in which it is present. To this end, on July 14, BCP Bangladesh proudly participated in the country’s “Vitamin A Plus Campaign 2018”, organized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.
On the day of the campaign itself, a team of 12 BCP Bangladesh volunteers were assigned to the vaccination center in the Tongi slum area in the country's Gazipur district. There, the volunteers worked from 8 o'clock in the morning until four o'clock in the afternoon, assisting with the distribution of the important vitamins, feeding vitamin A plus capsules to children aged between six months and five years old, under the supervision of representatives from the Gazipur City Corporation.
The children and their parents were very excited to have the volunteers from BCP Bangladesh with them during the activity. Over the course of the day, the volunteers also took the time to speak to the children's parents, giving them general health messages about the importance of balanced nutrition as well as the vitamins that are important for their children.
In addition to the time and dedication offered by the volunteers, assistance was also provided by Bata Bangladesh, who made two vehicles available to the City Corporation to serve as logistical support for the vitamin distribution campaign.
Speaking at the conclusion of the activity, Syed Zahidul Islam, one of the BCP Bangladesh volunteers and head of HR for Bata Bangladesh, commented: “This is a great opportunity for us to be involved with the children immunization campaign, which is very important in the context of our country. Our team participated enthusiastically in this event, and we felt very happy at the end of the day to have been able to contribute.”
BCP South Africa Shoe Donation Program Featured on National TV
On July 18, the Bata Children's Program (BCP) South Africa began a shoe donation activity aiming to give away 10,000 pairs of Toughees shoes to 100 schools and worthy organizations in order to help disadvantaged children with their education. On the occasion of Women's Day, on August 9, South African national television channel SABC News caught up with country manager of Bata South Africa John Harman at the location of one of the donations to speak with him about the project.
July 18 would have been Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday, and BCP South Africa felt it was important to commemorate the historic occasion with a major initiative in the region. To this end, Mandela Day saw the launch of the Toughees donation program, which stretched on for over three weeks to Women's Day.
The organizations chosen for the shoe donations were nominated by Bata South Africa staff, maintaining the BCP aim of providing support to the local community. One of those chosen to receive a donation of Toughees was the Kasi Angels Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Khayelitsha resident Gerald Nomlala, whose aim is to donate 9,000 pairs of shoes to disadvantaged learners around the country.
On Women's Day, Harman and Nomlala handed over 100 pairs out of a total 2,000 that were donated to the Kasi Angels Foundation to children from Mbekweni Primary School at the Paarl Stadium in the country's Western Cape. They were joined live by Lukhanyo Calata, a journalist from SABC News, who interviewed both men about the project.
After Nomlala spoke to the journalist about the enormous importance of providing shoes for school children in the region, Harman then provided more information about the BCP in general, BCP South Africa's Mandela Day campaign and the wide-reaching importance of shoes in terms of the country's society. He also noted that Bata South Africa hopes to inspire other businesses to follow its lead and increase their donations and work in the local community to help combat poverty and promote education.
He explained: “A pair of shoes goes further than being something for the protection and comfort of feet. A pair of shoes gives a child confidence and dignity, and can be instrumental in them achieving their objectives. Bata wants to assist children with their access to education and act as an example to other companies by encouraging them to get involved in similar projects. We were delighted to participate and donate half-a-million rands worth of Toughees shoes to Kasi Angels, whose values are well aligned with those of the Bata Children’s Program.”
On the reasons behind BCP South Africa's decision to create this particular donation program, Harman added: “One of the key areas where the BCP seeks to make a difference is in education, which was one of Mandela’s passions. Education is the basis on which development is founded, and the Bata Children’s Program strives to improve access to basic education. This can be done through activities ranging from school-shoe donations, so children meet their uniform requirements, to volunteers refurbishing school buildings to ensure a safe and secure learning environment.”
Bata South Africa Kickstarts Mandela Day Activities at Robben Island
On June 21, the Bata Children's Program (BCP) South Africa took a group of 25 young students on a field trip to Robben Island in Table Bay, as part of the BCP initiative to celebrate Mandela Day.
The children all came from schools in the Grabouw district in the Western Cape, and were excited to visit the island and learn about its history. BCP South Africa also received assistance from Robben Island staff and management in order to help facilitate the trip with the youngsters.
The children were accompanied by David Hamilton, a volunteer from BCP South Africa, on the half-hour ferry trip from Table Bay Harbour to the island. Once on Robben Island, they were given an extensive tour of the world heritage site by a former inmate. The tour included a visit to the cell of the late Nelson Mandela, where he spent 18 years as a political prisoner.
Explaining the choice to bring the children to visit Robben Island, Swastika Juggernath, Bata South Africa marketing manager, commented: “One of the key development areas in which the BCP seeks to make a difference is education, as we are all aware education was one of Madiba’s passions. Through the trip to Robben Island, the BCP aims to educate the children of South Africa on how the history of Robben Island and Nelson Mandela were defining elements in South Africa’s history.”
Another activity in BCP South Africa’s Mandela Day celebrations for 2018 was the distribution of a total of 10,000 pairs of school shoes to worthy schools and organizations across the country, and all of the children who attended the educational trip to Robben Island were given a pair of Toughees school shoes as a gift.
Speaking about the decision to donate shoes to the children, Juggernath added: “As far as BCP is concerned, this goes beyond a pair of shoes. It allows the learners to walk tall with pride, and gives them the added confidence that they need to achieve their dreams.
The Bata Children’s Program focuses on bringing all Bata community initiatives focused on helping disadvantaged children under one umbrella, allowing for greater cohesion and impact. The BCP believes every child should be provided with opportunities to help them reach their full potential, and aims to make a positive impact in their lives and the lives of those around them. The mission is to create a brighter future for children in need in its communities.
BCP Pakistan Visits School for Underprivileged Children in Lahore
On June 20, a team of volunteers from the Bata Children's Program (BCP) Pakistan visited the children of the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Johar Town, Lahore, in order to spend time with them and help with their studies.
The BCP volunteers made the trip to see the 45 orphans and abandoned children who live and study at the school, which aims to provide high-quality education both to orphans and other children in the area, helping the youngsters to integrate into the community as well as learning.
The volunteers spent time with different groups of children, sharing stories, helping teach them the alphabet and multiplication tables, watching cartoons and playing indoor games with them. Both children and volunteers enjoyed the experience immensely, and the children found it to be educational as well as entertaining.
At the end of the visit, gifts were distributed to the children on behalf of BCP, as souvenirs of the day they had spent together. The children were excited and thankful for the time the volunteers had spent with them, as well as for the fun activities that made the day so memorable.
Kashif, one of the volunteers, commented: “It was a satisfying experience for all of us to bring smiles to the children’s faces for a short while. Now I strongly believe that visiting an orphanage is a life-changing experience, and everyone should take this opportunity at least once in their life.”
BCP Thailand Organizes Fun-Filled Activity Day at Local School
On June 29, volunteers from the Bata Children's Program (BCP) Thailand visited the Wat Koklamduan Primary School near the country's capital, Bangkok, in order to spend time with the children and teach them some useful life skills.
The small public school is located around 100 kilometers to the northeast of Bangkok, and accommodates 48 students ranging from age 2 to 12, along with four, in-house teachers and one headmaster. The project, named “Sharing Smiles, Provide Happiness”, saw the 22 BCP Thailand volunteers conduct a workshop to teach the youngsters how to make their own modeling compound similar to Play-Doh, as well as take part in the renovation work of the school garden that is currently underway.
The idea to teach children how to make their own modeling compound came from the fact that playing with the substance is helpful in developing the small muscles in young hands. This helps to prepare them to be able to hold a pencil tightly and correctly at a later age, aiding their writing and drawing ability. Instead of donating the finished, ready-made substance which contains chemicals and artificial colors, Bata BCP volunteers decided to help the children to make it themselves from flour, salt and food coloring, as these doughs are safe and edible if ever accidentally eaten. The workshop was successful, although extremely messy, and brought a lot of smiles both from the kids and the adults.
After the morning activities, the BCP volunteers joined the young students for lunch, before commencing with the school garden restoration in the afternoon. When finished, the garden will provide the organic vegetables for the children's school lunches, which will help teach them that a “farm-to-table” mentality is the healthiest and most sustainable way of life.
Before leaving at the end of the day, the team, on behalf of Bata Thailand, also donated money and school supplies such as stationary, shoes, and snacks to help the children to continue their education in the best possible way. Speaking at the end of the visit, Nartsuda Chitwiset, one of the BCP Thailand volunteers, commented: “It was a memorable day for all of us, and we are looking forward to visiting the school again soon.”