By Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin, Sunway Group Branding Marketing & Communications
- Sunway uses urban farming to educate children on agriculture.
- The programme is designed at empowering local communities through knowledge by encouraging corporate volunteerism among Sunway staff.
While most of us start work around 9am, Vijaya Rani Vimalarajah started her days early towards the end of August 2019, reaching SMK Bandar Sunway as early as 7.30am – all for the sake of mentoring several Form 2 students at that school.
She did this continuously for nine straight weeks. Her motivation for this stems from her desire to bring about real change in a young one’s life.
“When I was younger, I had mentors from other organisations that gave career talks. I realised it made a lot of difference when I was younger. So I was hoping I could emulate that and make a difference, too,” she said.
Rani, manager of CSR, Internal Branding & Events at Group Brand Marketing & Communications, is one of four volunteers of the Sunway Seeding Inspiration and Leadership via Knowledge (SILK), our corporate social responsibility initiative in collaboration with Selangor Youth Community (SAY).
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The programme is designed at empowering local communities through knowledge by encouraging corporate volunteerism among Sunway staff. The target group of this programme are Form 2 students of SMK Bandar Sunway.
The objective of the programme is to allow beneficiaries to consider agriculture, through urban farming, as a non-conventional career pathway beyond school gates.
The long term initiative will be conducted in phases over a period of three years, starting in 2019. The initiative is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
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“The first year is a pilot project – we wanted to test the soil, ground and interest of the students. And it seems the students are interested in urban farming. For the second and third year, we will look into transforming it into a social enterprise,” said Bernard Paul, general manager of CSR, Internal Branding & Events at Group Brand Marketing & Communications. “They will be taught how to use their income to reinvest into the agricultural process and to instill business instincts into them,” he added.
Eleanor Choong of Sunway iLabs, another volunteer of the programme, was eager to take part once she found out it heavily involved gardening and farming. “The theme is really close to my heart,” she says. “We sow the seeds and at the end of the programme get together to cook up a storm to compete to cook the best dish.”
Through the programme, Sunway also hopes to inspire students to do better in life through mentorship. “SILK came about through the idea stemmed from Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah because one of the things he mentioned is that he would like to look into the schools that we build within our communities,” said Paul.
Programme partners include Sunway Building Materials Group, which provided concrete pavers for bedding, Tajul Green supplied gardening equipment and soil.