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21-Jan-2015  Düsseldorf / Germany

Henkel manager volunteers to help Indian young people

Learning the trade at vocational school

It has been ten years since the tsunami hit the coasts of the Indian Ocean. In the southern Indian diocese of Pondicherry, building work on a vocational school began soon afterwards to create new opportunities for young people, many of them orphaned by the tsunami. Henkel employee Reimar Heucher has been involved in this project as a volunteer from the start.

Seamstresses who attend the vocational school, like this student from Sri Lanka, are able to make a living for themselves.

Seamstresses who attend the vocational school, like this student from Sri Lanka, are able to make a living for themselves.

“This school has become a life’s mission for my family and me,” says Reimar Heucher, who works in Industrial Adhesives Management in Düsseldorf, Germany. Even before the building work started, he was involved in the planning and funding of the project and is now one of the main contacts for the school principal when it comes to new acquisitions, maintenance and organizational issues. “On average, I travel to India once a year to visit the school and make sure that work is progressing well,” he reports. “We are continuing to collect donations to ensure that the school can remain open.” MIT has been one of the school’s most reliable sponsors since 2004. “Every year more than 40 boys and 40 girls have been able to learn a trade thanks to the donations made,” relates Heucher. “A number of students are refugees from Sri Lanka; some virtually live in the school while they are doing the one-year course. Afterwards they can work as carpenters, electricians, seamstresses or office workers with IT skills. Graduates have good chances on the job market.”

Reimar Heucher planted a small tree when the school opened in 2006.

Reimar Heucher planted a small tree when the school opened in 2006.

On his visits, Reimar Heucher is drawn not just to the classrooms and training rooms but also out into the garden, to see “his” tree: “In 2006 we planted a small sapling to mark the inauguration of the school,” he recalls. “We had to give up on our other plans for the garden because of frequent weather damage due to the school’s coastal location, but this small plant has now grown into a majestic tree – just like the school has become a strong, highly regarded and successful institution in the region.”

Cover of the publication “Together”

Corporate Citizenship Magazine 2014

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