Sometimes children in orphanages don’t always get the same opportunities as those living with families, but in Malaysia, a group of IBM volunteers is making sure more than 200 kids at the Ti-Ratana Welfare Society Home get access to technology and an education in environmental sustainability.
“These kids are our future,” says Lee Chong Yih, who applied for and won a Catalyst Grant for the Ti-Ratana Welfare Society Home. “Our world is currently working hard to solve climate and environmental issues, and by teaching green awareness, the kids will play a part in making the earth a better place.”
The team will be using the Catalyst grant to purchase computers for the Ti-Ratana Welfare Society Home and to teach the orphans basic computer and Internet research skills on sustainability. In fact, more than 200 volunteers have signed up for the year-long commitment to raise environmental awareness and introduce green technology to Ti-Ratana kids and staff.
But they will give them something even more important: time. The grant provides funding for volunteers to take the orphans on field trips to science centers and national parks, as well as advise and mentor them on practical science experiments.
Volunteers introduced Smarter Planet and Reduce/Reuse/Recycle concepts during the Centennial Day of Service, and in the following year teams of 8-10 volunteers will visit on a weekly basis. The volunteers will follow a road map of activities designed to draw on their diverse skills including IT, finance, math, engineering, science studies, marketing and management.
“We are in the early phase of implementing the computer lab, but we did spend time with the kids during the Centennial Day of Service, and presented the “Help Kids Go Green” Activity Kit. They listened very carefully when we talked to them about the importance of recycling. They were almost like adults, listening so closely,” says Lee.
While acting as mentors and coaches to the kids, the IBM volunteers will also impart skills and knowledge to the management and caretakers of the orphanage, as well – sharing environmental best practices, as well as skills in marketing, management, and finance.
“The most satisfying part of this project is seeing how supportive IBM has been in helping the center. Of course, it’s also great seeing so many IBMers eager to volunteer and give back the community. They make a real difference to all the people in the center,” concludes Lee.