Arbor month coincided quite nicely with the official formation of ImmerQi’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) team; a dedicated group of individuals who have agreed to donate some of their time to organizing CSR events and instigating CSR initiatives. What better way to kick off a new culturally responsible scheme than to plant some trees?!
ImmerQi’s first official ‘volunteer drop-in day’ got off to a great start – the weather was absolutely beautiful, smogless and warm! A total of 17 people joined the fun, including program participants, staff and friends. Everybody met up in DongZhiMen, Beijing’s central transport hub, to be transferred to Sun Village which is a home for the children of inmates. The shuttle bus was cramped and struggled to putter along the highway, operating at such a high capacity, but the 1.5 hour journey was pleasant and full of excited banter!
Upon arrival at Sun Village, we were free to roam around the centre’s grounds, exploring the numerous facilities that had been donated to the care home from various benefactors and interacting with the energetic and adorable children who populated the site. The centre was sizeable, with several dining buildings, classrooms, playrooms, greenhouses and more. It was overall a very relaxing and welcoming atmosphere, a great place for the children of broken families to be raised.
After wandering around for a while, we were escorted to the tree planting site – several acres of field dotted with countless volunteers, all hoping to do their bit for the environment by planting some trees. We were soon handed shovels and set to work. We were only expecting to plant around 20 trees, but ended up planting at least 100! It was tiring and dirty work, but good company and an excellent cause made it all worthwhile. Tasks included digging and filling holes, carrying armfuls of trees and ensuring that every tree was in alignment. One of the most satisfying parts of the day was when we were given the opportunity to paint our name on a metal plate and tie it to a tree of our choice!
After over an hour of tiring manual labor, we were taken back to Sun Village for a delicious and well-earned lunch, prepared by the centre, of dumplings, fried rice, pancakes and hotpot! Just what we all needed after shoveling away in the sun. After lunch, Kirsty Armstrong (VPC Program Manager and CSR Team Leader) handed over a donation of 2,780RMB, which paid for the trees we planted.
The final event of the trip, which all of the sweet-toothed participants had been looking forward to all day, was strawberry picking. The strawberry farm, located 5 minutes away from the centre, was also operated by Sun Village, another way for them to acquire funds to run the care home. We were allowed into several of the ‘strawberry bunkers’, which were long, humid rooms, teeming with fresh, succulent strawberries! For 50RMB each, we were allowed to fill up one box full of strawberries and eat as many as we wanted as we picked. Most were very eager to take advantage of this unique opportunity (especially Peter Davis) and eventually emerged from the fruit-dens queasy and red-faced, having eaten far too many strawberries!
A wobbly group of fruit-filled volunteers stumbled back to the shuttle bus to begin the journey back to the city. Exhausted after an intense day at Sun Village, most of us decided to sleep on the drive back, the remaining individuals passing the time with entertaining word games!
A truly wonderful day with truly wonderful people! The formation of a CSR team is something that ImmerQi has been striving to achieve for a while and now that it’s been established, more regular and contributive CSR events can occur.
ImmerQi’s next ‘volunteer drop-in day’ is on May 18th and is all about exercising for charity, so get your best running shoes ready and we’ll keep you posted!