I just returned from the Connecting Sichuan finale event in Chengdu China. What an amazing event! It was an honor to be in the presence of so many of the partners and team members who made the vision of Connecting Sichuan a reality and I want to express my sincere thanks to all those who contributed to the success of this endeavor.
While we had high hopes, we could not have known in 2008 how far we would come in three short years. The devastation of the Sichuan earthquake at that time was overwhelming. Cisco, the Cisco Foundation, and our employees immediately responded by donating more than US$2.6 million (about RMB 16.8 million) in grants and relief funds, to address the acute and dire situation on the ground.
But we knew we could do more. We wanted to apply our Cisco core competencies – our technology, skills and people – and partner with the Government of China at the local, provincial and national levels to rebuild better, together. Cisco committed over $45 million (about RMB 292M) in manpower, networking expertise, cash grants, partner services, and equipment donations to the three year program. Government officials collaborated with us at every level of the public sector and together, we facilitated partnerships with other key private and public sector entities.
The impact on the lives of the people of Sichuan has been well worth the investment. We have contributed to establishing over 193 sites in Education and Healthcare. We are reaching hundreds of thousands of people with transformational access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities that were not available before the Connecting Sichuan program.
Here are two short videos I took while I was visiting one of the schools we helped to rebuild, Yingxiu Primary. In both videos, the children are participating in an English lesson, taught by an expert teacher, through Sunbird video technology.
This is just one example of how technology has improved access to quality education for remote populations in Sichuan Province, as well as the process by which education is managed and implemented.
Make sure to visit the Connecting Sichuan site to review the program history. The final report and video are well worth your time. Every picture you see there is of someone who has been served by the program.
While the implementation phase of Connecting Sichuan has come to a close, we have put in to place key sustainability factors. The commitment to continue to sustain this investment and expand the reach of these resources was evident among the local participants at the finale event. The government ministers present were knowledgeable of the program and obviously personally invested in seeing its success. Many of our partners expressed their gratitude at having been a part of such a transformative project that impacted lives for the better. We have set an example for successful multi-sectoral collaboration in China, an example that many within the government and business sectors are eager to replicate. We at Cisco look forward to facilitating future partnerships that can continue to improve lives and transform communities.