Editor's Note: This post is a guest blog, contributed by Rachel Ann Kenyon. Rachel is a 20 year old, who most recently helped out with the GCNS Youth Forum. Rachel is currently a second year student at Singapore University of Social Sciences.
On a breezy Monday morning, a small team of Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS) volunteers had took a 40-minute flight to the Indonesian island of Riau to visit Pangkalan Kerinci to learn more about the sustainability efforts of APRIL and how companies could help to build and empower the local community. Fresh out of the recent GCNS Youth Forum that had professionals in the field of corporate sustainability sharing how youths could be empowered to effect a change within their companies, some of the participants were presented the prized opportunity to visit one of the leading firms in sustainable operations.
Having reached the school, we were greeted with a rousing welcome. A tour of the school was conducted by the student councillors and a performance by fourth graders was put up. As RGE’s staff hail from countries as far as South Africa, they have helped to set up this school to better accommodate to the needs of both their staff and their families. Furthermore, unlike most schools, the Mutiara Harapan School has special programmes on Earth Day, teaching the school children innovative and practical ways to contribute to sustainability efforts. RGE believes in employing a multi-faceted way to save the planet, which includes educating and empowering the young ones.
More than reaching out to the next generation of people in the community, RGE also seeks to reach out to the oft-forgotten members of the community. Visiting the community development village demonstrated how the company actively seeks to improve the quality of life of the community. Training by RGE is provided to the families, empowering the communities by providing them with a source of income. Upon reaching the village, we were given a presentation of the different initiatives that have been put in place to help improve the lives of those in the community. In doing so, the community also helps to meet the needs of the community. The demand for the service is created by the companies and some of the community members are trained to meet that demand, providing valuable opportunities.
A recurrent problem Riau has been working hard to tackle is the multitude of forest fires that have caused the haze and in turn the great complaints among the South East Asian countries recently. RGE seeks to minimise and mitigate the effects of these forest fires, as well as educate the farmers about the detrimental effects of starting these fires. To rectify this, APRIL’s community ambassadors negotiate with the different community leaders to decide what incentives they may receive should they refrain from starting any forest fires. However, in the event that there are still fires, men from the different villages come together weekly to train to put out the fires. Each fireman carries almost 50kg worth of equipment into every fire, and runs up to 10km to reach places that their helicopters that cannot access.
The youth that visited Pangkalan Kenrinci that Monday didn't just realise the immense potential for good that large companies have; they are now better able to effect change in their environment they are in through the lifestyles they lead.
This post is a guest editorial, contributed by Rachel Ann Kenyon. Rachel is a 20 year old, who most recently helped out with the GCNS Youth Forum. Rachel is currently a second year student at Singapore University of Social Sciences.