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Here in Vietnam, a market Asiana Airlines entered in 2004, the company has also become known for its brick-by-brick commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR), such as building gratitude houses for needy families in southern Ben Tre province. So far, 40 such houses have been built with support from this Korea’s second largest airline.
The builders of these gratitude houses are staff members at Asiana Airlines alongside the prospective house owners. To smoothly handle construction, the volunteers passed training courses hosted by Asiana Airlines in cooperation with Unicef Korea where they were taught building skills to help them learn more about new locations as well as ways to get closer to local people.
One such house was recently given to Tran Thi Nhem in Thanh An hamlet, Thanh Phu district’s Binh Thanh commune in Ben Tre province. Nhem said the family would carry out more plans to improve living. “Above all we expect our two kids will enjoy decent learning conditions,” Nhem said.
Many other people in the province are enjoying and anticipating benefits from the new houses.
One recent day Tran Thi Mien, a 78-year old woman, was busy mixing mortar and carrying bricks with volunteer builders who were senior air hostesses at Asiana Airlines. Construction of her new home is near completion
“Living in a new home, I expect my health will become better and I can do more to help raise my two nephews,” said Mien.
Chang Jin Joo is a stewardess at Asiana Airlines, one of the volunteer builders. When she was a student, she got a few chances to partake such meaningful activities. So, she said she was happy joining Asiana Airlines team to handle philanthropic activities.
“Korea and Vietnam have close ties. We consider helping needy people in Ben Tre like supporting our neighbours. I expect laying further bricks to build more and more houses for Vietnamese people,” said Chang.
“Life is more meaningful when we have a chance to help needy families. We want such activities to linger on,” said Kwak Eun Ju, another air hostess.
Besides building gratitude houses, Asiana Airlines became involved in a number of practical supportive activities for Vietnamese people in the past couples of years. In 2012, it inked a memorandum of understanding with Quang Nam province People’s Committee to finance restoration of UNESCO-recognised world cultural heritage sites in the central region and is now working at a tourism infrastructure building project.
This year, the airline contemplates joining hands with Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to install 40 lamp-posts using solar energy. In addition, it donates teaching aids to Thang Long Primary School in Hanoi.
Asiana Airlines has begun cultural support activities in Vietnam since 2008 and up to now 940 scholarships have been given to Vietnamese students with funding from the airline.
Ben Tre province’s Thanh An hamlet is home to Binh Thanh An Primary School, which had been an array of dilapidated classrooms full of dust and without toilets and safe water. That was why Asiana Airlines decided to building decent latrine facilities and water plumbing system for the school.
“A poor commune in the province, Binh Thanh faces safe water and environmental hygiene dilemma for many years,” explained Tran Thi Chan, chairwoman of Binh Thanh Commune Fatherland Front Committee. “Poor households incur bad living conditions and many students lack money to sustain learning. We expect the company hold on these philanthropic activities in the coming period.”
“I made a promise with Vietnamese leaders that when we are running at profits we will reinvest in the country and not return it all home,” said Park Sam Koo, chairman of Kumho Asiana Group, of which Asiana Airlines is a member. “Evidence for this commitment is diverse community support activities Asiana Airlines was, is doing and will do in locations throughout Vietnam.”
Park continued:. “When doing business in Vietnam I take myself as a Vietnamese businessman. I also asked other group members to do the same.”
Park said he wanted to establish another Kumho Group in Vietnam as he believes Vietnam will be developing robustly as Korea in the near future.
Asiana Airlines, the second largest airline in Korea, places the headquarters and international hub at Incheon International Airport and a domestic hub at Gimpo International Airport.