There’s been a lot of Japanese spirit and determination hard at work in the Kingdom of Wonder for over a decade, quietly contributing towards ensuring a more environmentally-sustainable nation. Since 2001, the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual & Cultural Advancement (OISCA) Cambodia, part of OISCA International, has been steadily upholding the values of the original movement that began in Japan over 50 years ago.
The Cambodian chapter, established by Forte Insurance CEO Charles Cheo as part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, has accomplished much since it first donated clothes in 2001 to the Samdach Raksmey Bosana Foundation to support poor families. Over the years, OISCA Cambodia has played a role in advancing Cambodia’s environmentally sustainable development through a holistic approach that emphasizes the interconnectedness of agriculture, ecological integrity and the human spirit.
Its activities have included donations to Red Cross Cambodia for flood victims in 2002, a two-year school improvement project at a primary school in Kandal province, a three-year mangrove rehabilitation campaign in Koh Kong province and a four-year “Forest Refresh” project to plant trees at Angkor Wat.
The highlight, however, is the Children’s Forest Program (CFP). Started in Japan in 1991 and introduced here in 2009 to primary schools in Kampong Cham province, the CFP encourages children to realize the importance of a sustainable environment via tree-planting campaigns. Its pilot project saw the participation of nine primary schools and a resort and resulted in 5,326 individuals planting 2,845 local tree species on 41,852 square meters of land.
Since then, OISCA Cambodia’s CFP has expanded to encompass secondary schools and the community nationwide, who have participated in environmental workshops, recycling activities and other relevant projects. The CFP in Cambodia today is part of OISCA International’s success story in 33 countries - an initiative that has seen 4,650 schools planting 6.9 million trees.
Aside from its various green-themed projects, OISCA Cambodia has helped to develop local human resources by sending Cambodian trainees to Japan. Trainees attend short- and long-term sessions in fields such as agricultural skills development, dairy and poultry farming, general agriculture and stock-raising.
“A strong sense of corporate social responsibility has always compelled Forte Insurance to give back to the nation,” said Forte’s Charles Cheo. “We believe contributing to the development of communities here is a fundamental part of our mission, and we have achieved this in part thanks to OISCA Cambodia.”
He added that OISCA Cambodia’s future plans included extending the CFP to other provinces, creating an OISCA center and organizing more training courses.
“OISCA Cambodia continuously follows in the footsteps of our parent body in advocating hands-on experiential programs, transmitting knowledge and skills, and cultivating spiritual qualities as self-reliance and brotherhood,” said Cheo. “With support from the government, we believe we can do more to develop Cambodia into a truly environmentally-sustainable nation.”
To better serve the Japanese community here, Forte has appointed Shinichi Aoki to be Head of Japan Desk. Aoki also plays a role in building ties between Forte and the Japanese Embassy.
“OISCA trainees returning from Japan should have the opportunity to apply the techniques they’ve learnt to better help their community,” he said. “Forte’s Japan Desk is always ready to ensure this and other issues become a reality.”