Happy Move? The volunteers of Hyundai’s outreach programme in Chennai find the community projects they’re involved in enjoyable and enriching

In the normal course of life, you wouldn’t expect to see a Dr. Kim Mi Jeong examining a patient at a community centre in Manimangalam, 12 km from Tambaram. Or, a Korean named Song demonstrating the principles of magnetism to pint-sized students at a panchayat middle school in Kolathur, located around 15 km away from Tambaram. Right now, meeting the Kims, the Songs and the Lees of the world is common for village folks in and around Sriperumbudur Taluk.

In a two-week CSR programme initiated by the Hyundai Motor Company, groups of Korean college students and medical practitioners serve these communities by renovating dilapidated school buildings, taking fun-filled classroom sessions for children and attending to the medical needs of all.

Called ‘Happy Move Global Youth Volunteers’, they are among batches of youngsters from Korea who have gone to various parts of the world where Hyundai has a presence — to serve and learn. The ‘Happy Move’ programme, initiated by HMC in 2008, serves two goals: helping the car manufacturer connect with communities living in proximity to its facilities and inculcating the values of kindness and empathy in Korean youngsters.

Does the CSR initiative result in any lasting good for its beneficiaries? A visit to the Kolathur Panchayat Middle School provides the answer. A Korean youngster takes us to the toilets, clean and freshly painted. He flips out a camera and shows pictures of how they looked before they were renovated. For six days, the group repaired the damaged portions of the school, repainting its walls and doors and now, with their assignment drawing to a close, are focussed on leaving behind an eco-friendly memento of their visit — around 25 saplings.

Specialised work

“For specialised work, experts help the Korean youngsters. To give an example, masons are engaged to re-construct broken structures,” says D. Sridar, manager of Hyundai Motor India Foundation (HMIF).

The hurdle of language is tackled with the help of local college students, which include 18 nursing assistants from the Saveetha Nursing College. As many as 125 students and 16 medical personnel who have come from Korea are Happy Move volunteers. They have been divided into groups, with a fair number of students from colleges in and around the area placed in each group.

At Kolathur, a teacher named Song conducts science experiments. But for the help of a student from Saveetha Engineering and another from MOP, his engaging sessions would be lost on the kids. At the panchayat community centre in Manimangalam, the local nursing students play a more critical role, interpreting the symptoms of the patients to the Korean doctors.

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