ING Bank, a global bank from the Netherlands, joined forces with Thai Military Bank (TMB) to improve the lives of the underprivileged in Thailand through the ING Orange Bike project. Managed and monitored locally by the World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT), over the last 2 years the project has helped a total of 2,800 children across 226 schools in 14 provinces. The bicycles are manufactured by World Bicycle Relief through Giant company and are specially customised for rural terrain.
Mr Gerrit Stoelinga, CEO of ING Wholesale Banking Asia and Ms Chompoonoot Pathomporn, Head of Branch Banking at TMB brought their staff to join the ING Orange Bike Ceremony 2017. The event was joined by students from Ban Rattana and Ban Non Saeng Saeng Arun schools in Non Thong sub-district, Waeng district, Khon Kaen province. It also included key leaders from WVFT and the local communities: Dr Bunjongsek Supsopha, Marketing and Fundraising Director of WVFT, Mr Pipob Sinthukhottra, Director of Ban Rattana School, Mr Sahaphon Pigrohnae, School Director at Ban Non Saeng Saeng Arun, Dr Pairoj Aksornsuea, Deputy Director at Khon Kaen Elementary Education Service Area Office 3 and Mr Surasit Vattanaudomchai, Chief District Officer of Waeng Yai District. Teachers, students and community representatives welcomed the guests and expressed their gratitude with traditional performances including Pong Lang music, Bai Sri Sukwan folk dance and a Muay Thai boxing show.
“I feel great seeing the children so excited and happy. I’ve also seen the determination and commitment of ING staff, which is a great combination. This makes me very proud to be here today. ING launched this in the Philippines 4 years ago, followed by Indonesia and Thailand, where the project has been implemented for two 2 consecutive years,” revealed Mr Stoelinga. He added, “Bicycles are crucial to children who live far from school. It saves time and makes them enjoy coming to school. When I was a child, I remember that I travelled 12 km from my home to school and back. At such a young age, I felt discouraged. Without the bicycle that brought me to school until I finished my education, I probably wouldn’t be standing here today. I’d like to tell the kids to study hard and to keep the bicycles in a good condition so that they can be passed onto the next generation of children.”
In addition to handing out the Orange Bikes, the guests also joined the students in playing a local children’s game called ‘Snatching a Baby from the Mother Snake’. ING staff also painted and repaired Ban Rattana School’s basketball and volleyball courts. They also planted trees and vegetables at a patch thriving with mix-method farming at Ban Non Saeng Saeng Arun School.
Another ING executive, Mr Stephen Briones who is the Country Manager for Thailand, Greater Mekong Region Coverage shared, “I’m very happy because I’m helping many students, including giving them bicycles, joining various activities and playing games with them. I want to see them and their teachers happy with learning. Next time I definitely won’t miss joining these good activities.”
Porawat (Aom), a Grade 6 student who is a recipient of the Orange Bike described his joy. He said, “I used to have to walk for 20 minutes to school. The roads were bumpy especially during rainy season. I’m very glad that ING came to give us bicycles. I can now get to school faster. I promise to take good care of the bicycle and study hard. Thank you very much.”
Dr Bunjongsek added, “The 2,800 Orange Bikes which ING has given in partnership with WVFT since 2015 has changed the lives of the kids. These are impoverished children living in remote locations who had to walk long distances between their school and home. Some days they had to battle through the sweltering heat and on other days they had to wage through the pouring rain. They had to walk on dirt roads with holes and bumps. They can now get to school faster, safer and more conveniently. This will prepare the children physically and psychologically to harness the most from their studies every day.”