ELYRIA, Ohio– Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems is celebrating the ten-year anniversary of Knorr-Bremse Global Care, a nonprofit organization.
The nonprofit came about by Knorr-Bremse Group (of which Bendix is a member) and focuses on improving the lives of disadvantaged people worldwide by giving them the opportunity to determine their own future.
To mark the special anniversary, Bendix recently completed its project under Global Care where they built new classrooms for children in Malawi.
Knorr-Bremse Global Care was formed in January of 2015 in wake of the Southeast Asia tsunami disaster in December 2004. In addition, Global Care is used to inspire and increase the awareness of its employees to the need for more social involvement.
“We are honoured to be a part of the Knorr-Bremse Group and Knorr-Bremse Global Care,” said Maria Gutierrez, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Bendix. “Social responsibility is not only core to Bendix corporate values but woven into our company culture. It’s difficult, it’s demanding, but it’s also extremely rewarding to those it touches.”
Classrooms for Kawale
Martin M. M’Tambo is the manager of new business development at Bendix and knows first hand the value that Global Care brings. He grew up in Malawi as a young boy and attended primary school there. He went on to pursue his education and eventually in 2013, he earned his green card and visited the school in Kawale where conditions had worsened.
When he got back to the US, M’Tambo met Joe McAleese, Bendix president and CEO, at a corporate golf outing and told him all about the terrible conditions at the Kawale Primary school.
From there, McAleese assisted M’Tambo in connecting with Bendix leaders who could help.
After providing many details and blueprints, M’Tambo submitted a Knorr-Bremse Global Care proposal and Knorr-Bremse Global Care agreed to contribute EUR 31,000 to build four new classrooms for the school.
Unfortunately, Malawi’s yo-yoing economy resulted in a 50% cost increase when construction began, so M’Tambo’s project with the help of Knorr-Bremse only built two new classrooms.
“Costs are extremely time-sensitive in Malawi. They require a lot of creative problem-solving, and you can’t walk. You have to run,” said M’Tambo, who travelled to Malawi periodically to oversee the project on-site. “Planning is easier in the West.”
After that, Bendix helped fund the construction of a third classroom and even employees were handing out cheques to help the cause.
“The support from Bendix leadership was incredible,” M’Tambo said. “They’re driving a message of corporate responsibility that goes beyond just where you do business. It’s not just global. It hits home for us.”
In November, M’Tambo returned to the primary school to celebrate the completion of the project.
“What we built in Kawale will last hundreds of years after our lifetime. Just thinking about it gives me goose bumps,” M’Tambo said. “This is the biggest and most meaningful thing I feel I’ve ever done.
“I learned so much about management, communication, and leadership throughout this project,” M’Tambo continued. “But I also learned about hope. I told the students, ‘I used to sit there. I used to walk the floor without shoes like you did. But I had a chance, and you do, too.’ They’ve never seen anyone succeed, but I am where I am today because of education. And I hope these classrooms give them that same hope – that it inspires them.”
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