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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Be a blessing with Blessing Hands.


While I was teaching in a summer English camp in Yangshuo County, Guangxi, China, I asked the director of the camp to ask the primary and middle school teachers in our classes to make lists of the children in their classes and schools who needed tuition help to continue in school. The teachers turned in the names of 269 children.

Later I was able, with the help of the Education Department of Yangshuo Schools, to visit five of the teachers at their schools in the countryside. The teachers had needy students come to the school to meet me and also took me to visit the homes of needy students. The following pictures are of those students and schools.

Orphaned Chinese children like these need tuition help. These sisters depend on their grandmother for their support. I have committed myself to help 155 of these children for one year with tuition. As I looked through the name lists, I chose mostly primary school children and some middle school children, who are taught by my teaching assistants, who were middle school teachers.

I opened an account in the Bank of China and put the funds in the care of Malan Cai, who was my Chinese teacher when she was a visiting scholar here. Two other of my Chinese friends who were students at our local college, Xuqi Wen and Yi Ying Li (Walson), also agreed to help me help the children in the countryside. Together we talked about forming a charity to help the children, but we found that establishing a charity in cooperation with a foreigner in China is very difficult.

Will these children be able to finish school once they start?

I am still exploring how to fund the tuition program as a charity or to pass the funds through an established charity. For now I am calling the program Blessing Hands, since I feel that the children need extended hands reaching out with blessings to help them. It is really God's hand of blessing in me that I am extending, but other people may just want to help because they feel compassion also.

I have discussed the charity and its heart with the Education Department and the state charity people within the Yangshuo government. They are willing to work with anyone who will extend aid to the children in the countryside. It is normal for individuals to personally give aid to the children or even to schools there, so they approve of what I want to do and are willing to help me personally give this money as need is found.

Charles, one of my teacher/students, welcomed me to his school in the coutnryside. He rides a motorcycle to school over dirt roads.

Charles and I are in the teachers' office. He came at 5:00 a.m. to clean up this room for us visitors.

The headmaster is showing us the books used to teach English in his school.

All of China loves ping-pong. This concrete table is used for ping-pong.

This is a kindergarten room.

This classroom shows the need that the rural schools experience everyday. Although I was delighted to help the 140 children, the plight of the other 119 children that I did not fund began to appear before me when I woke up in the morning. I began to think of friends and relatives that I thought might also want to help them. I made a little presentation at my church and several people gave me money that would support five children for one semester.

I opened a bank account in my local bank in the name of Blessing Hands to keep that money dedicated to its intended children. I can send the tuition money to China by Western Union. That is why I have made this blog presentation. I am hoping to raise enough money to help the rest of the 114 children.

I was introduced to this grandmother who is raising her two orphaned grandchildren. She came in from working in the fields to meet me.

This is Mo Renjiao. She is an orphan supported by her grandmother who is at least 82. She is an excellent student. She will soon be old enough to be a middle school student. Country children between the ages of 12 and 14 usually must become boarding students to continue in middle school. That is a dangerous point when children often miss out on further education, since they cannot afford the added expense of living away from home and also tuition.

After they pass a special test at age 14 they can go on to middle high school until age 18, but middle high school tuition is not government subsidized at all. Since poor students, who are excellent students, have to depend on sponsors willing to support them in school, children over 14 really face a divide that determines their future lives. Many drop out to enter the labor force and support their families. Passing the test to get into college still does not solve their problems since college fees, though low, are often out of reach for them and their families.

Mo's grandmother was such a tiny lady. I asked her if I could buy this Chinese stool from her. She insisted on giving it to me. I remember her devotion to her grandchildren everytime I see the stool in my home. It fitted easily into my suitcase. Visitors are always offered these stools for seating when visiting a Chinese rural home. They are very sturdy, and this one looked very old.

These children in the village near Charles' school were playing a board game like chess except with Chinese playing pieces. Beside me is Jessica, a middle school teacher who came along with us the first day.

The mountains in Yangshuo County are the very ones we see in Chinese watercolor paintings. They really do disappear into the clouds in sharp peaks. The Chinese appreciate rocks shaped in strange forms, and these mountains are the subject of many poems.

This village is called the Stone Village because a lot of the houses are made of stone. Tourists come to see this village during cooler weather.

Monday, August 29, 2005

This is a kitchen in one of the houses in the Stone Village. Rice is the main crop and food of these village people.

This grandfather is supporting his two granddaughters. They do have electricity in Stone Village, but it often does not work.

One of the teachers is translating for me. I do so wish that I could speak Chinese. I am taking Chinese lessons, but it is slow going.

This little girl had walked an hour with her father to come and ask for help. Her mother is very sick, and they have no money to get medical care or medicine for her. She cannot get out of bed. I gave the family as much as I was advised to give at the present time. You can see her classroom in the background.

Malan Cai, who went with me to the schools on the first day, was a great help with translations. She is the first one on the left. The man on the right is the supervisor over the schools in this area of Yangshuo,and his daughter is standing beside him. Most of the students here came from the Stone Village nearby.

I found that the salary for a primary teacher in the countryside averages $30 US a month with some teachers getting as little as $15 US. A child can go to school there for $25 US a semester or $50 US for a school year. China's policy is to require universal free public education until the age of 14, but children still have to pay tuition for books and other expenses. If a child's family is too poor to pay, they don't get to go to school, which is a terrible waste of a life. Jacob, who is stand in the back, is my teacher/student. They waited hours for us to arrive.

These children came to the school to meet me because they needed help with their tuition or school books.

Jacob and his fellow teacher are shown here.

The rice fields are worked by hand and water buffaloes. They have systems of irrigation that have woven Chinese communities together in cooperation for many generations. The Chinese people consider the needs of the group as more important than their own needs.

These older folks live in a home for older people near one of the schools. I had a small gift for each of them.

This is one of settlements used to house older people who have no children to support them. It is unthinkable that a child would not support their parents. If they have no children, however, the government gives them room and board in each area.

This is a grave. Chinese fear and honor the dead. You can see a offering left on the top of this grave.

This spirit wall keeps spirits from coming into this farmer's home. His corn is drying over the door. The red paper near the door is put up during the Chinese New Year to welcome the New Year and wish health, happiness, and wealth on the family.

I asked to go into this chopstick factory in the front room of someone's home. Home industries add to the village's income.

These are bamboo chopsticks drying in the sun.

Peanuts were ripe when I was there.

The ball field at this school was being used for drying rice during the harvest. The schools in China are out for vacation during the month of July.

My student James and his headmaster greeted me in their common office.

This was the library at one rural school.

My student James teaches in this rural school where Chairman Mao still watches over the classes. He came on his motorcycle to show me around and stayed with us most of the day while we went to other schools.

This school was being used to store rice during the harvest since the school was not in session.

James and his headmaster introduced me to these poor children who needed funds for their school expenses.

The little girl in purple pants did not have an English name, so I named her Josephine. Her brother is standing beside her. James was their teacher. He later took me to their home to meet their mother. Their father had recently died.

Josephine's mother works in the city to support her two children who live with their uncle's family. She recently lost her husband after a long illness. They have many medical bills left for his care and cannot afford to pay for Josephine's tuition. Josephine's mother had returned home to help with the harvest.

After I heard that Josephine could go to school for only $50 US a year, I was delighted to find that I had $400 yuan ($50 US) with me that I could give her mother for her tuition. I was so glad to be able to help this family that was in such sorrow and worry. Here I am handing her mother the money.

I wanted to get this little girl to smile, so I asked her to come and let me give her a hug. She was so sad since her father had recently died.

This is where the widow and her children lived with their extended family. You can see the rice drying in the sun in the backgound.

These ladies are carring a motor on a pole. There is a rice harvesting machine on the right.

This three story school is nearly new construction. The older part of the school is on the left. The schoolyard is not cleared of construction debris yet.

James, who is one of our teachers, is on the left. The other man is a headmaster. This school was neat and clean.

This is the teachers' office at this school. They had new wooden desks that were donated to the school.

The headmaster is pleased with the new computer, printer, and two monitors his school has. This was the only computer I saw out in the countryside. Most rooms did not have a TV, tape recorder, or anything except desks and a blackboard. Some teacher offices did have TVs.

I gave this village elder a small gift, and he smiled for my camera.

Teenagers play pool in their free time all over the world.

I saw many people smoking in China. This older man was relaxing in the village where Jimmy's school was.