As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In most developing countries, few children graduate from secondary school and many don’t even finish primary school. Without education and the support to help children to go to school, there is no way to break the cycle of poverty in the developing world.
While this situation can seem daunting, Aiman Naseer, Training Coordinator in our Pharma Division, understands the difference a person can make. She’s seen it first hand on account of her commitment to giving back and participating in the Roche Children’s Walk. Each year, our employees across the globe band together to walk for a cause that is central to our philanthropy program and speaks to the heart of our organization. The Roche Children’s Walk raises money and awareness for children’s programmes – especially those focused on education – in impoverished countries like Malawi, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. While these countries are often referred to as “developing markets,” we recognize that their development can’t happen in isolation of partnerships with companies like ours.
Two years ago, Aiman and seven other Roche employees were chosen from a group of top fundraisers worldwide to travel to Malawi, Africa and visit communities supported through the initiative. Aiman, who believes strongly in causes that help people in need, encouraged her friends and family to support her fundraising efforts.
“One person can have a huge impact, and together we are doing great things,” she says. “We visited a school with 60 children in a tiny classroom with dirt floors. None of them had shoes and some weren’t clothed. For many, the bowl of porridge they were eating would be their only meal that day. The money we raise is impacting young lives today and into the future by offering them the opportunity at an education. For people in developing countries, education is the key to freedom; it is the way out of poverty. Without our support, these children wouldn’t be able to go to school; they wouldn’t be able to learn skills that they could ultimately use to create a better life for themselves.”
Since Roche established the Walk as a cornerstone of our global philanthropy efforts 14 years ago, over 200,000 Roche employees have raised CHF 15.4 million ($21.25 million CAD) in donations to be used for children’s projects around the world. Roche matches money raised by employees across the world. Last year, 144 sites in 72 countries participated, including both our Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics divisions in Canada. Through partners such as UNICEF and ActionAid Malawi we support initiatives related to education, nutrition, primary healthcare and social development in more than 90 communities, as well as local philanthropic partners.
For Aiman, the experience to visit a community that is directly impacted by our focus on sustainability and giving back will shape her outlook through her lifetime. As she says, “You see pictures online or on TV, but they don’t capture the poverty that people in countries like Malawi face every day. Being in these communities (even for a short time), it struck me how lucky we are for the things we have as working Canadians. I took so much away from the experience. I’m much more conscious of wasting resources like food and water because I know that at any given moment a child, a mother, a father is out there struggling to put a meal on the table or to have the luxury of clean water. This experience, through Roche, has made me appreciate everything I have; it has made me grateful for the ability and time to make a difference.
The Roche Children’s Walk has supported long-term, sustainable change in the developing world since 2003. The funds raised through this initiative have helped by constructing schools, classrooms and orphan centres; have supporting university and college graduates; and have provided food and clean water to impoverished communities. Our focus and commitment to giving back extends beyond our local boundaries because we believe that each and every one of our 80,000 employees has the ability, the power and the passion to make a difference where it matters most. We believe that through our collective action we CAN make this world a more equitable place for all.
June 14, 2017