Feeding hope, saving lives

Melvin Lim (below) and his colleagues have helped many Filipino children.

Melvin Lim has a deep commitment to helping the disadvantaged, whichever country he is working in.

Turning his back on a seriously ill child was never an option for Melvin Lim CPA. One incident, in particular, has stayed in his mind from his five-year stint working in the Philippines as a finance director for a major baby formula company. 

His colleagues alerted Lim to the malnourished newborn who, due to poor organ function, could not absorb sufficient nutrients. There was a potentially life-saving drug but it was not available in the Philippines. However, Lim and his team were determined to help. 

Liaising with government and hospital officials to overcome registration hurdles, they ensured the drug arrived in the country within a couple of days and gave the baby a shot at life.

“We were very lucky that we were able to help that family,” Lim says. “There’s always a way and a means.”

 Melvin Lim CPAFor him, that case highlights the social power of companies. 

“We’re not only making money selling our products – we do have an obligation to look after local communities,” he says.

While he was in the Philippines, Lim was heavily involved with Feeding Hope, an initiative that helps school-aged children in poor communities. He and his wife were also part of a Bible study group that supported an orphanage.

Lim now works for food company Danone in Guangzhou, China. He has had roles in Vietnam, China, Malaysia and the Philippines since completing an engineering degree in the 1990s at Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology and an MBA at Deakin University. 

He had moved to Australia from Taiwan to study and says, “Living in Australia made me realise how lucky we are. In my school and professional life, there were two people who helped me a lot by providing advice and coaching me.

“I met Mr Lai while I was still studying. He had been in Australia for 20 years after migrating from Hong Kong. He shared stories with me about the tough times he encountered when he first came to Australia and that helped me when I had similar problems. 

“... it’s a matter of when you can help, you just do it.”

“My other mentor was Damian O’Reilly, the executive director of finance at my previous company. I was the manufacturing manager and I wanted to move into finance; Damian gave me that chance.

“I’ve been able to get to where I am because someone helped me. I always have the philosophy that I like to give back to the community.”

With two daughters studying at Monash University in Melbourne, Lim is keen to one day return there to live. For now, though, he is happy in China and is weighing up which charities or causes to support.

“As global citizens we move around everywhere and I think we always have to remember that there are many people who are a lot less fortunate than us,” he says. “

For me, it’s a matter of when you can help, you just do it.” 

Professional Development: CPA Q&A. Access a handpicked selection of resources each month and complete a short monthly assessment to earn CPD hours. Exclusively available to CPA Australia members.

Feeding Hope, the Philippines

Feeding Hope has made a difference to more than 45,000 malnourished children in the Philippines.

To boost their development, the children are supplied with nutritionally balanced meals and a cup of milk for six days a week over six months, with their mothers preparing the meals.

The families work with local government and social workers. Perhaps the most critical component of the program is educating the mothers in nutrition and hygiene, as well as parenting skills and financial management. 

The program is a joint initiative between Mead Johnson Nutrition, the Department of Social Welfare, and Kabisig ng Kalahi, a non-government organisation that helps children in disadvantaged communities.

Read next: Turning lives around through World Vision

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June 2017
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