Chow Tai Fook Partners with UNICEF to Support Women and Children in Rural China
The Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Limited is the world’s largest jeweler by market capitalization. The company specializes in manufacturing, designing, and selling luxury jewelry. But their core business principles go much further than just providing people with luxury accessories—they extend to caring for the needy and disadvantaged. They have been in partnership with UNICEF for years, helping fund many of the international non-profit organization’s programs aimed at helping children in need in Mainland China. One of the UNICEF programs that the company supports helps minority women and children living in rural villages.
In the Xunhua county of Qinghai, the winters are long and harsh, often lasting up to five months, with temperatures that fall below ten degrees Celsius. Many homes in the village have no heat and newborns can succumb to hypothermia due to low birth weight and the effects of the extreme cold. Local traditional practices are used regarding infant and childcare. These include giving birth at home, feeding newborns with just water or sugar water, bottle-feeding, intermittent breastfeeding, and tying babies tightly into a “candle parcel” that is thought to keep them warm.
Chomoji and her husband Xiawu live in Xunhua. Due to cultural traditions, they did not go to a hospital for pre-natal care and they eventually lost their first baby due to premature delivery. When Chomoji became pregnant again, a UNICEF-trained local healthcare worker, Huan Zhu, was able to convince her to go to the hospital when it was time to give birth. On July 15, 2013, little Chaireng was born to the proud parents who among other new mothers also attended classes on caring for babies. The education includes hypothermia prevention techniques like the “kangaroo method,” which involves skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the newborn to keep the child warm, as well as some UNICEF-advocated practices of clean cord care, initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of delivery, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and continued breastfeeding until the second year of life, plus immunization and personal hygiene practices.
Witnessing changes firsthand
In September 2013, Chow Tai Fook managing director Kent Wong, executive director Peter Suen, and strategic partner relationships general manager Lau Pok went on a four-day trip to Xunhua’s remote mountain villages to see, firsthand, how women and children were benefitting from the health program.
On the visit to Xunhua, the team was able to meet Chomoji and her growing son Chaireng. But it became apparent that all was not well with the baby. A congenital defect had caused his left foot to be a clubfoot, a deformity that leaves the foot twisted inward. He and his parents were sent to Hua Xin Hospital, where he underwent successful surgery to correct the foot.
The team also watched as a village doctor held a baby doll using the kangaroo method in front of a group of expectant mothers and new mothers. Then the executives visited a mother who had a four-year-old child, Zilpah, along with two-year-old twins. Zilpah had stunted growth due to malnutrition; she only measured as tall as her two-year old siblings.
UNICEF has made it a priority to promote educational efforts on proper nutrition as well as supplying the villagers with nutritional supplements.
When they returned home, the executives felt even more committed to their mission of helping their country’s youth—no matter where they live—grow healthy and strong.
To learn more about this and other diamond industry initiatives helping communities around the world, visit the Diamond Empowerment Fund.
* Top photo by Corporate Affairs, Chow Tai Fook.