Catalysts for change

Three of the four founding members of The Chain Reaction Project: Jasmine Wong, Tingjun Zhang and Alexandra Toh (photo courtesy of Teo Pok Zin and Alexandra Toh)

Fresh from their first initiative into using adventure expeditions as a platform for philanthropy, the The Chain Reaction Project girls (Tingjun, Jasmine, Alexandra and Anina) resonated strongly with the YOLO’s mantra “you only live once” and a partnership was thus born. With this common vision, the creative team behind YOLO came onboard to help launch the second TCRP adventure: participating in Timor-Leste’s inaugural Dili Marathon 2010 to raise funds for a local Timorese charity, HIAM-Health.

Through word-of-mouth and e-mailers sent out to friends and family, the TCRP girls gathered a group of 22 passionate individuals from all walks of life and ages to join them in Timor-Leste over 19 - 22 July 2010.

Highlight of the trip #1 - Visiting HIAM-Health and the new playground
Immediately after touching down at the airport, the group headed out to visit HIAM-Health. HIAM-Health is a nutrition rehabilitation centre that provides care for severely malnourished infants and toddlers and education for their parents. Through the stay-in and hands-on programs, parents are taught the importance of nutrition and hygiene, educated on the basic food groups and food preparation. As most of Timor-Leste survives on subsistence farming, HIAM-Health also teaches permaculture principles to the families so that they can optimize their backyard farming on a sustainable and ecological manner to produce a variety of nutritious vegetables and fruits for the table.

A colourful playground has been newly installed at the centre’s courtyard, courtesy of Playpoint (Singapore) who generously gave from their heart when they learnt about HIAM-Health’s wish for a play area for the children to play freely and safely. This is part of Playpoint (Singapore)’s commitment to corporate social responsibility named ‘Playpoint Gives Back’. President of the nation, Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, came personally to officiate the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the playground during our visit.

The new playground with TCRP’s wall of peace.  Thank you, Playpoint (Singapore)! (photo courtesy of Pamela Ho)

In return, the TCRP had the opportunity to splash some love and paint a wall of peace for HIAM-Health. I must say, it took a while for us Singaporeans to warm up to ‘graffitising’ the white space!

Pamela Ho, 938Live radio host, standing before our completed wall of peace in HIAM-Health. (photo courtesy of Jasmine Wong)

Highlight of the trip #2 - The inaugural Dili Marathon
The second day of the trip was marked by the various events of the Dili Marathon, from a 5km run to the full marathon. The motley crew of 22 headed off into the dawn, ready to complete our mission of running for a cause.

The cheerful 5km gang smiling for the camera. (Photo courtesy of Pamela Ho)

The President was also spotted completing the 5km event with gusto, surrounded by hundreds of this countrymen. And at the end of the run, the TCRP group was still all smiles...

This was the 96th marathon for Mohan (the guy in white running singlet with the finisher’s medal)!  And it was also Stanley’s (the only other guy in the photo…) first half-marathon. (Photo courtesy of Teo Pok Zin)

Highlight of the trip #3 - The day
The day after the marathon, we headed out to Maubisse, a town in the highlands of Timor-Leste, passing through small villages and paddy fields terraced into the slopes of the hills. During a visit to a traditional village, we met with a local village chief who took an immense liking to our TCRP buff!

Village chief of Maubisse, sporting our TCRP buff! (Photo courtesy of Mel Oliveiro)

Thoughts from some of us on this project:

Avery Teo (Tingjun’s mum):  It was a wonderful opportunity for the family to finally see and feel the project that has motivated Tingjun to spend so much of her time and effort.  I was very impressed with HIAM-Health and what they are doing to teach mothers about getting out of the rut of malnourishment.  With the work that are doing, hopefully the knowledge will spread to the provinces and educate the women to avoid the poverty cycle. 

Jeanine Heng: Seeing the children and the health-workers at HIAM-Health was a reality check; they ask for nothing more than the necessities of life.  A playground, which we take for granted in Singapore, really made their day.  When we were told we had to paint the wall, I wondered if we had enough artistic talent to make it into something beautiful and permanent for them, but actually all it required for a lot of heart and bright colours!

Peter Mostyn:  Participating in this run and seeing the country was a fantastic way to engage in socio-economic causes and raising funds.  It was certainly encouraging to see the locals line the streets to watch the run even in the very early hours of dawn and demonstrated that they took an interest to what was happening in their own city.

Jason Sim, Playpoint (Singapore):  Donating the KOMPAN playground to HIAM-Health was part Playpoint’s corporate social responsibility program.  We want to support children’s charities for under-privileged kids to give them a chance to enjoy play and all the benfits that come along with it.  Partnering TCRP in this project was very much in line with our company’s vision.

The TCRP group sporting our cool YOLO tees! (Photo courtesy of Teo Pok Zin)