Unique effort to help the poor and special needs kids

By Zhang Lei ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-12-17 10:16:25

Unique effort to help the poor and special needs kids

Clothing donation program in Ludian, Yunnan province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

China today has about 55 million people living in deprived areas in the country's remote mountainous areas, besides tens of millions of families who struggle to care for children with special needs.

The numbers who need help prompted the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation to work with clothing brand Uniqlo to set up a special project to help with poverty alleviation and provide care for special children.

The goal is to use the clothing brand's experience and resources to help these people. Together, the foundation and Uniqlo aim in three years to collect 5 million pieces of clothing to help people in need. To reach its goal, the company is contributing 3.88 million yuan to the project. Besides, nearly 500 of its stores nationwide will hold special programs for these children, and invite them to its shops to boost their social interaction.

China Daily recently spoke to Tang Jiuhong, the Minister of Funds at the Soong Ching Ling Foundation and Fast Retailing Group Executive Vice President, Uniqlo Greater China CEO Pan Ning.

Unique effort to help the poor and special needs kids

UNICEF Wash Program in Chongqing [Photo provided to China Daily]

How is poverty alleviation done through the Soong Ching Ling Foundation's public welfare projects? How is the policy reflected in cooperation with a clothing brand?

Tang Jiuhong: Precision poverty alleviation is a guideline of the central government's poverty alleviation programs. A charity practitioner like me, and compassionate individuals and enterprises want the policy to be implemented properly. So, we evaluate projects first based on whether the recipients are poverty-stricken. Then, we decide whether the project is good for poverty alleviation, and whether it is accessible to the individuals who need help. The charity practitioners' ultimate goal can be achieved only if the recipients' life can be improved, either ideologically or spiritually.

This time, we are working with Uniqlo to create a new vision and operational approach for the foundation's philanthropic tenets. We hope that by jointly leveraging some of its social resources, we can act as a role model. Sometimes, a smile can give recipients strength. In fact, clothes, especially beautiful ones which you send to poor children and poor families are not only a form of social compassion, but more importantly let them develop a yearning to better themselves. This was not the case in our earlier public-benefit projects. Therefore, the setting up of such a project with Uniqlo helps us devote ourselves to precision poverty alleviation. This fills a blank page in our foundation, so we attach great importance to it.

Why did your company agree to work with the Soong Ching Ling Foundation?

Pan Ning: This is mainly because we are like-minded. Both sides, along with many charitable social forces have a common belief in the power of public institutions and enterprises to promote social development, so that improved living conditions can ensure a better future for society as a whole, especially with regard to children and adolescents. Working with the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation has been effective in setting up a platform through which these children can gain confidence through interactive activities, which in turn can help connect them with the wider community.

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