“We have over 80 children in our home,” Joshua Ng, the co-founder of Grace Covenant Community Care, a place for underserved children, giving an overview of their current status. “We are giving all these children their well deserved second chance so that their dreams will be fulfilled too.”
“Everyone has a dream. Even children who come from broken homes.” Joshua, along with his wife, Ruth Kam, took their initiatives to plan a welcoming home for the underserved kids. Their ages range from newborn to teenagers. “We feel that only through education, children can change their lives. We need to nurture them from young through building good attitude and behaviour while developing respectable healthy character. In an acronym, it is the ABC of growth – Attitude, Behaviour and Character.”
To show that they are moving towards the right direction – a shelter home to operate with transparency and professionalism, Joshua insisted on conformity.
From day one at the start of construction, Joshua had ensured that every construction details conformed to specifications required for ISO certification, especially to create an environment-friendly space for the children’s wellbeing. “We are the first shelter home in Malaysia to receive the certifications of ISO 9001 for quality management system and ISO 14000 for environment management.”
In Grace Covenant’s home, they have taught the children on waste management. In the premises, it is to uphold the green environment practices with less or zero garbage. They use almost 100% recyclable materials and learn to turn food into organic waste.
“We are the forerunner in this way of managing a shelter home. We want to portray a healthy image. The stigma of a shelter home has always been unkempt, poor and unorganised. We want to change that perception.” Since 2013, Joshua has put emphasis on creating a new image for charity organization. “We want people to look at these children as healthy, intelligent and full of life. You will not find desolate, undernourished and underprivileged children in Grace Covenant.”
“These children have all the rights to receive the same education and the same quality of life as we do.” Joshua said with conviction. A belief that he and Ruth will stand up for.
Their outstanding work has received numerous local and international recognitions. In 2010, Junior Chambers International awarded Joshua and Ruth, the first husband and wife team, as honourees of the Ten Outstanding Young Malaysian Awards (TOYM) in 2010 and 2012 respectively. The news of their achievement has spread wide and far. Local establishments and companies from Singapore have visited them to learn especially the ways they manage Grace Covenant.
Unfortunately, as Joshua discovered to his dismay, companies were so impacted, intrigue and impressed with Grace Covenant’s progress they are shunning themselves from helping Joshua to do more for the children. “Because they said we are doing so well, the children are so well taken care of and the shelter home looks spick-and-span, so they said we don’t require help. They would rather help other shelter homes who are more in need of assistance. It means shelter homes which are in desolate conditions.” Joshua felt devastated by companies who gave such comments.
“Why are we buying into the idea that shelter homes must look disheveled, dilapidated and in disarray? So that others will pour in their sympathy and pity to extend a helping hand?” Joshua scratched his head trying to understand the way society perceives shelter homes for children. “Isn’t it right to say that the more someone is doing well in his studies, business and life, we should be willing to help more? The uprising star has shown tremendous tenacity to get to where he/she wants. Shouldn’t that be encouraged rather than shunned?”
Throughout the years while seeking sponsorships for the children’s educational advancement, Joshua finds it strange that until today companies still placed conditions. “These companies will come up with a list of conditions when they are about to agree to an educational sponsorship. They want the child to get a certain percentage in their passing grades and also set a working contract for them to stay with the companies when they graduate.” Like a deflated balloon, Joshua sighed. “Do we really understand unconditional love? Do you love a child because of what you want out of him or her? Or do you just love them for who they are? What if a child is not getting good grades but the child is good in other soft skills? Would that qualify the child for a scholarship to go and learn to be a mechanic?”
Usually, this is what happened. Corporate who would like to build their CSR portfolio is interested only to check out Grace Covenant for one day. They will come with their camera crew and corporate communication team. Then, they will set up a lavish spread of delicious food, perk up the children with clean clothes and a well developed script of what to do and what to say. In a whiff, after providing some handouts, they are gone.
Most of these corporations will continue to look for other shelter homes to do another round of CSR. “But this is not the way to help any charity organisation. Do you really know what we need?”
Think about it: If a person is looking at the face of death walking in the scorching heat in the desert, what do you think the person need the most at that moment? Money, food or water?” Joshua gave an analogy of what is truly needed by a shelter home. “The obvious answer is water. So, for charity organisation, what do you think they will need when there are 80 kids to feed and send to school? Do you think they need flour, rice and cooking oil? Or funds in terms of money?” It is frustrating trying to put things right so that for any corporation or anyone who is looking forward to perform CSR to know the needs of a shelter home.
Joshua suggested how corporate can execute a CSR project with impactful result. If only they could meet these three commitments, then developing a CSR project will be beneficial for both parties, ie corporation and the charity organization. All Grace Covenant asks of corporations who would like to fulfill their CSR duties to practice executing the CSR program by promising these three commitments :
Grace Covenant organises a rainbow run and a charity dinner, two events to raise funds annually. We need corporations to join us at these events. Be present, be there.
Work with us. Corproations should not just turn up in an entourage, take some pictures, have a scrumptious spread, then leave. Stay and build Grace Covenant together.
Be our angels. Be aware of the going-ons at our community centre. Be physically involved at least for three years consecutively. Check our growth, find out what we need and determine the ways to help. Be our partner, help us by being with us.
“Corporations have to understand that what you do will show to your staff how sincere you are in extending your hand to help.” Joshua touched on the cultivation of company culture. “Is it only to show in record that they have done something good for society or is it really a heartfelt action? Do they know that what and how they perform CSR will influence their staff as well?”
Good intention from the heart will definitely turn into beneficial results for both the giver and the receiver.
It is time for corporations who are interested to extend their corporate social responsibility beyond fulfilling a PR need and creating a caring corporate image. Take one step further to be with any shelter home project for at least three years to show your commitment and conviction that you really want the children to have their second chance to fulfil their dreams.
Remember that the respect you give to a CSR project determines the respect your staff have for your company. What goes around comes around.