Dec 14, 2016  Bridgewater, New Jersey

Ribbon-cutting ceremony reveals renovated Cargo of Dreams shipping container

Henkel employees transform cargo shipping container into classroom for use in South Africa

Henkel Adhesive Technologies, the leading solution provider worldwide for adhesives, sealants and functional coatings officially sent off their “Cargo of Dreams” to South Africa – a shipping container transformed into a kindergarten classroom – during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held earlier today. The celebration was the culmination of months of work and coordination between Henkel’s employees and Cargo of Dreams, a global non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to transforming impoverished communities worldwide. Financial support was provided through Henkel’s “Make an Impact on Tomorrow” (MIT) program.

MIT is a global program that supports the volunteer work of Henkel employees and retirees through funding or “time off” to perform community outreach. Since its launch in 1998, over 12,100 social engagement projects around the world have been supported. The MIT program provided grants to support the completion of this project. More than 100 employees volunteered over 830 hours to work on the shipping container.

Michel Bilodeau, Senior Vice President, Packaging, Consumer Goods & Construction for Henkel Adhesive Technologies, provided opening remarks: “I am very proud of what our volunteers have accomplished! More than 100 employees volunteered over 830 hours to work on every facet of the transformation -- including drilling, installation of insulation, plumbing and electricity, cutting sheetrock  and painting – it was a tremendous effort from everyone involved. Now that our work is completed, the container will be shipped to South Africa, where our Henkel colleagues will complete the final cutouts for windows and doors and transport it to its final destination in George, South Africa.”

Joanne Georgiana, Henkel’s coordinator for the Cargo of Dreams project, introduced the theme that inspired the design of Henkel’s container: “We are all connected in matters of the heart.” Joanne also recognized Bridgewater-Raritan High School students as the inspiration for the project.  “During a visit to the school in 2013, we saw students working on a Cargo of Dreams container that would be used as a birthing clinic in Uganda. We were impressed with the student’s efforts and provided a $6,500 MIT grant from Henkel to support the project. That exposure planted the seed for us to transform our own container.”

The Cargo of Dreams organization partners with corporations, schools and community groups to convert shipping containers into fully functional operating facilities, such as schools and medical centers. Donor groups are responsible for sourcing a container, constructing the interior and painting the exterior.

Henkel provided a $12,500 MIT grant to support the project. On Nov. 3, 2015, a container measuring 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and almost 9 feet tall was delivered to the Bridgewater site, and over the past 13 months, employee volunteers worked tirelessly to convert the container into a kindergarten classroom. The exterior now features colorful silhouettes with outstretched arms joined by hearts.
According to Kim Tagesen, Business Director, Consumer Packaging, Henkel Adhesive Technologies – who also participated in the ribbon-cutting celebration via audio from South Africa - the container will now travel over 8,000 miles to Capetown, before it arrives at its final destination in George, South Africa. Henkel employees in Alrode, South Africa also secured an MIT grant to renovate a container; the final setup will include two containers with a roof connecting them together.  

Mike Harwell, Vice President, Product Development, Henkel Adhesive Technologies, thanked the volunteers for their endless commitment and dedication to the project. “With your hard work, you have helped to make a difference in people’s lives locally and globally, and we applaud your efforts.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony signaled the completion of many hours of work by Bridgewater employees, who have a history of local and global community outreach.

Press Release (252.04 KB)

This cargo shipping container has been transformed into a classroom for children in South Africa.

Cargo of Dreams committee members and volunteers prepare to cut the ribbon at the Dec. 14 event.

Employees contributed over 800 volunteer hours to the renovation of the shipping container.

Committee Members - L to R: Alice Cheung, Joanne Georgiana, Keith Murtaugh, Sean Skilos, Ashwin Bhongir, Mike Falcon, Izumi Shiba; Not pictured: Donna Wojciechowski