It was a charity project that tapped on people to donate used shoes for rural Cambodians who often go barefoot. The Diploma in Consumer Behaviour and Research (DCBR) students were expecting about 500 pairs of shoes for their Charity Tree project. But in a week, they received double the amount.
Mr Kenny Low, the lecturer in charge, was surprised by the success of this project. Republic Polytechnic (RP) staff and students and non-RP donors eventually donated 1160 pairs. “RP has shown a lot of heart through this project, and this is definitely one of those times that you feel proud of being a part of the RP community,” said Mr Low, who teaches Consumer Behaviour and Research at the Centre for Enterprise and Communication.
The charity drive was held in August and students will lug all these shoes to the Ballangk Commune in Cambodia for their international service learning project trip in September. The DCBR team has been to the same village twice before and when there, they realised that the villagers lacked basic items like proper footwear. To fill that gap, the Charity Tree project was born. Social media platforms were used to publicize the donation drive and the hash tag “projecthappyfeet2014” went on Twitter and Instagram.
About 40 first- and second-year DCBR students were involved this time around. Chia Shun Zheng, the student lead, said he was amazed by the overwhelming support. But he was quite shocked when the team found high heels among the mountain of shoes.
“High heels are not really suitable to be used in a rural village,” said the 18-year-old. “So we donated them to the Salvation Army instead. But the majority were very generous. Some donors came with four to five bags packed with different kinds of footwear.’’
Kristine Castillo, 18, a second-year Biomedical Sciences student, donated about five pairs of shoes. She said: “The Charity Tree project is a touching idea. I wish I could initiate a project like that as well; it is meaningful and full of thought and love so I fully support and enjoy donating.”
What made this project special was that it even reached those outside of RP. Mr Mohamed Azhari found out about the donation drive through his friend’s text message. After contacting RP and Mr Low, the DHL contact centre team manager arrived to donate boxes of shoes.
The 41-year-old said: “I rallied my department to contribute used children’s shoes. And at the same time, organized a collection of funds for new shoes to be bought and donated. I find a project like this really worthwhile.’’