Weinheim. August 1, 2013. May 12, 2008 is a traumatic date for China. The worst earthquake in China for more than 60 years, in the region of Sichuan, caused 86,000 deaths and left 5 million people homeless. As a result of the earthquake, many schools collapsed like houses of cards. More than 5000 schoolchildren lost their lives. In addition to providing immediate financial aid, the Freudenberg Group started to reconstruct a primary school in the region following the catastrophe. The close connection with the school and the children has continued to this day.
Yuan Yuan Huang was very excited. The 11-year-old pupil at Haijin Freudenberg Primary school pressed her nose to the window of her classroom. Which of the teachers standing outside would be teaching her class for the next few days? She experiences this excitement and curiosity every summer – this year was the fourth in succession. At this year’s summer camp, more than 70 Freudenberg associates from all Business Groups in China came to the school in their own free time and their own expense to teach subjects like English, traditional Chinese culture, handwork or scientific experiments. At the beginning of July, 200 children took part in the six-day program, enjoying another unforgettable experience this year.
“Every year, we come to teach the children new things. Each time, it is moving to see how they appreciate our commitment. Their eyes shine brightly, they smile all the time, this is the greatest reward for our efforts,” said Coco Wang, Marketing Manager of Chemtrend China. The associates have developed a sustained support program including training for teachers, the provision of school materials and books for a library as well as educational aid for children from poor families. And the dedication of the Freudenberg Group has already paid. Haijin Freudenberg Primary School is now one of the best in the Jiangyou region.
The Group has had business contacts with China for more than 100 years. One of Freudenberg’s facilities is located in Chengdu, about 200 km from the school. “Following the earthquake, we felt that it was our duty to provide long-term support for the region, explains Rolf Köhler, the coordinator of the project for Freudenberg and former General Manager of the Regional Corporate Center in Asia. “We are proud to be able to give the children a sustained prospect of a better future.”
About the Haijin Freudenberg Primary School
In order to finance the project, the Group founded the aid organization Freudenberg Help e.V. Shortly after the earthquake. The members of the association coordinated the project, provided funds for the school and ensured that it was reconstructed. Donations were made in the form of funds received from the Group and associates as well as donations in kind and work contributed by all the Chinese Business Groups of the Freudenberg Group. The school was built in only seven months and was one of the first to be reconstructed through donations and private initiatives.