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November 11, 2009

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School of hope for migrant pupils

A new community education center will benefit migrant workers' children in Pinghu, Zhejiang Province.

The project, sponsored by Cargill (one of the world's largest agriculture, food and risk management suppliers), Coca-Cola and Habitat for Humanity (an international NGO that seeks to eliminate poverty housing), is scheduled to be completed next July and opened next September for the new semester.

It is part of Cargill's Pinghu Education Support Program.

Designed by Peter Dalkeith Scott International, an Australian-based architecture firm, the Community Education Center will have special classrooms and an auditorium featuring curved walls reminiscent of flower petals with windows designed for a child's perspective. The rooftop provides a safe playground with a petal-shaped canopy giving shelter.

The campus includes a music room to allow students to learn the zither and other instruments, a pottery room where children can explore creativity through molding, an intellectual resources room, a language lab, a calligraphy and painting room, an upper-level multi-purpose room serving as an auditorium with stage and a roof terrace which not only provides a safe supervised place to play but also reveals the shape and orientation of the building.

Volunteers from Cargill, Coca-Cola and Habitat for Humanity are helping to move bricks on the construction site on weekends.

"We are very proud to join hands with Coca-Cola to serve the local community here in Pinghu," said Norwell Coquillard, president of Cargill China. "I hope that more companies will implement social responsibility efforts to help boost sustainable social and economic development in China."

Since Cargill set up its Pinghu factory two years ago, the company has launched extensive volunteer service programs in the area, which include building computer classrooms for a local primary school, managing a reading program and environmental protection education for the students there, as well as building homes for needy people.

In addition, Cargill China has also announced that it will fund a primary school renovation project, which is expected to benefit more than 1,300 migrant families in Pinghu.

"We are very happy to work with our partners, who share the same values of promoting education development for the next generation," said Dan Coe, chief procurement officer of Coca-Cola China as well as one of the volunteer members.

Since the beginning of Cargill's operations in China over 30 years ago, the company has provided agricultural training to over 2.1 million farmers in China, which has helped increased farming family incomes.

Its Rural Education Project plans to set up and renovate 40 primary schools in China's remote villages in the next three years.

So far 14 have been completed and seven more schools are under construction.


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