August 10, 2014 01:00 By Somluck Srimalee The Nation
'Cornerstone Foundation' set up to ensure a brighter future for the young
To give children an opportunity for a sustainable quality of life, Sansiri’s founders – Srettha Thavisin, Wanchak Buranasiri and Apichart Chutrakul – have established the Children’s Cornerstone Foundation to provide the necessities for disadvantaged children nationwide.
“We focus on children in three categories – education, sport, and health – because children are the country’s future,” founder Srettha Thavisin, who also president of Sansiri Plc, said.
He added that this project started in 2010 from his savings and those of two other founders, Wanchak and Apichart. They have applied to be an official foundation, meaning donations to it can be tax deductible.
The foundation began when Sansiri kicked off its corporate social responsibility programme (CSR) by donating to Unicef in 2010 and also promoting the Iodine Please Campaign.
This programme aimed to raise awareness that many Thai children have IQs below the standard levels outlined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), mainly caused by iodine deficiency, which has negatively affected them for the past 60 years.
The iodine campaign was designed to mobilise society to promote universal salt iodisation legislation in Thailand – an important step towards helping improve the brain development among children. From 2010 until January 1, 2011, universal salt iodisation was officially legislated, making it a requirement for all types of salt to contain a sufficient amount of iodine in accordance with globally recognised ICCIDD/WHO standards.
Sansiri also supports the end of child labour on construction sites. To ensure that the company’s business partners share the same vision, it has signed MoUs with its contractors forbidding the exploitation of child labour.
Any breach of this agreement results in termination of the offender’s contract.
The stipulation is enforced throughout Sansiri’s construction sites, including in upcountry areas such as Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Khon Kaen, where Sansiri has now expanded its project development.
In support of another drive to end child labour, the company has also set up Child-Friendly Spaces at ten of its sites, providing staff with a safe place for their children to play and learn.
“We urge our staff and our business partners to join this programme as volunteer teachers to help them with their projects in future programmes,” he said.
Sansiri also has a Sansiri Academy that provides free football training every weekend for children. Already, some of these young players have reached a place in the national youth football team.
“All of Sansiri’s CSR projects are designed to inspire long term programmes for children nationwide and open opportunities for others to join in and improve quality of life for all. As a result, Wanchak, and Apichart, decided to found the Children’s Cornerstone Foundation for disadvantaged children nationwide in 2010,” Srettha said.
The foundation supports primary schools nationwide in growing their own food for children in the school, providing quality lunches for the students. At the same time, the students learn about agriculture as a possible career in the future.
The foundation also cooperates with the Agriculture Department and other interested parties to train teachers and students in agricultural techniques – finding quality seed and animals.
“The foundation’s focus on sustainable activity will help the children and their families improve their quality of life in the long term,” he said.
Scheme in Chiang Mai, Phuket
At present, the foundation provides this programme in 20 schools in Chiang Mai and two schools in Phuket. It will expand to Northeast of Thailand in the next two years.
“Our programme will produce not only food but we are training children in how to cultivate agriculture plants, how to breed and raise fish, chicken, pork, and local animals.
“This will help develop a sustainable quality of life, better than depending on money to buy food,” Srettha said.
The foundation also provides scholarship for low–income children, special needs children, emergency children’s programmes,and supporting children with HIV and other diseases.
“The foundation will support the country’s children and also create promotions to raise public donations in support of it.
“This is a better method to support children sustainably than setting up a small budget from the corporation,” he added.