Welcome to our Blessing Hands Blog

Thanks for visiting our website and learning about our charity that helps children in China stay in school.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Blessing Hands Quarterly Report

I got to meet many new Yangshuo Blessing Hands children during my trip to China in March and see old ones again. I was there during the last part of March with a Sister Cities Group and of course visited the schools.

The children had letters and drawings to give and the older ones had self-introduction speeches to recite. I was delighted to give them Beanie Babies, candy, and other small gifts. The school principals and teachers also got small gifts like tapes and CDs. Some of the older students were able to speak and write English. At some schools we had time to have them write introductions about themselves to share with pen pals or sponsors, but at other schools we barely had time to give them English names, if they wanted one., and take pictures.

Some of the primary children we helped in the fall don't need support now, since the government is paying their tuition. We have kept 50 of our original 185 supported primary students. The support for these younger students is now $10 a semester rather than $25 as before, since they will only need help with books and school supplies not tuition. This semester we will be supporting 40 junior middle school students, which is an increase from last semester. Their $25 support will include room and board, books, and school supplies but not tuition since the government is now paying that. You can see pictures of children from Zhonghe Middle School on my blog.

Thanks to the Founding Family Grant we will be able to add 55 higher middle school children to Blessing Hands in Yangshuo this semester. We had a few before, who had special circumstances like the death of a parent, but now we will be supporting many. Being over 15 they don't receive government school tuition and are tempted to drop out of school rather than go on to high school. We can really make a difference by offering tuition and room and board to those who need our help. In mostly rural Yangshuo this will only cost $63 a semester.

Beginning with the fall semester any Yangshuo County Blessing Hands student who graduates in the spring of 2006 and is accepted into a Chinese college may apply to Blessing Hands before August 1st for a partial college scholarship during the 2006-07 school year. Scholarships will be awarded based on need, test scores, college tuition expenses, number of students applying, and availability of scholarship money for that purpose in the Blessing Hands treasury. I am hoping that you sponsors will want to support these individual scholarships. We already have awarded two $250 spring semester college scholarships at Guangxi Normal University to rural students studying to be teachers. That covers half of their tuition.

Blessing Hands branched out this semester to assist a primary school in Wuming, a Zhuang minority area near Nanning. Mr. Lu, who was a visiting scholar in Morehead, comes from the Zhuang people. He took us to his home town and Nine Mile School where 28 children needed help paying for their school books. We gave the school $175 to pay off a textbook bill. The principal there is an old classmate of Mr. Lu, and the children were delightful. We also attended a Zhuang Song Festival in Wuming.

Beginning with the fall semester Blessing Hands will be using grant money from Founding Families and your matching contributions to support higher middle school children in the Qinzhou, Guangxi area of China. Anna Liu, who is a visiting scholar at MSU, has helped to secure this grant and will administer the program in her area. 60 rural higher middle schools will receive tuition help for students while 30% of the proposal will cover children in No.1 Middle School, which serves many rural children from the area. The higher middle school tuitions in Qinzhou are $75 a semester, since it is a more prosperous area. The proposal calls for tuition help for about 280 students.

Founding Family is sending me to a course on how to start a non-profit charity. Blessing Hands has grown so much that it is now necessary to be incorporated and become an official charity. Donors will then be able to get tax receipts from Blessing Hands, but for now any donations should be given to Founding Family Foundation,1004 Rodney Dr, Nashville, TN 37205-1018. They have promised to match any donations (except donations from my relatives) to Blessing Hands up to $25,000 before December 31, 2006. The checks need to be written to Founding Family Foundation. You can see their web page at http://foundingfamily.org.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Recent Trip to Yangshuo County, China

In late March several people from Morehead went to Yangshuo to dedicate 93 Sister Cities Wheelchairs that Morehead gave to Yangshuo's handicapped citizens. While I was there as a Sister Cities tour member, I was able to visit several schools and meet our Blessing Hands children and their teachers and principals. I gave flags to each school and other small gifts such a Christmas CDs and candy. The Education Department opened their resouces to us to make our visit a success. Seeing the children in person was so much better than seeing their pictures. I could match their faces with thank you letters and even got to bless some of them with English names. Seeing their schools and homes also helped me understand their lives. We were given a royal welcome everywhere.

Qu Ling Zhu

Sister Thelma Oney, my minister, went with us on the trip to observe the Blessing Hands work. Here she is pictured with Qu Ling Zhu and her grandmother. Ling's tumor has been removed, but fluid has filled the void leaving her looking about the same as before the operation. She will have a second plastic surgery operation six months after the first one to correct her facial features and make her look normal again.

She wrote us a very good thank you letter, saying that she could talk much better now. Her grandmother gave us oranges and locally made sweets. She and Ling came to our hotel later bringing more harvest gifts to say thank you. Ling had just been to the doctor for a check up and was excited to meet us personally and entertain us in her small home near the Xingping school.

Loving Hearts Forever

The principal of Xingping Primary School made this lovely poster for us. It can be translated roughly as "the loving hearts of the world's people go hand in hand forever." We have it posted on the wall at church now. I had to iron it after it had a rough trip in my suitcase.

Xingping Primary School

We were delighted to find Qu Ling Zhu back in her regular school class. She is wearing a red hat to hide her shaved head. These children gave me drawings, and we gave them Beanie Babies and candy. Sister Cities also gave this school a computer that we got to present. I am also chairman of the Yangshuo Committee of Morehead Sister Cities, and we often work together to bless the children in Yangshuo.

Sally

Sally was reciting her self introduction when she started to cry. She was telling me the problems in her family that made it necessary for her to have Blessing Hands' support and how much she needed the tuition support. Her struggle to stay in school must have been very hard. She was doing very well with her English up till then. I couldn't help but cry with her.

Children Need More Than Tuition

I couldn't resist holding Sally in my arms when she burst out crying. She was so grateful for our help, and pressure can be very strong in China's competive testing system. She needs more than the money that helps her know that she can succeed. Being able to be there to hug her was a very special moment. I hope to find her a pen pal who she can share her hopes, sorrows, and dreams with. Amy, her teacher, was given stamps, so the children can afford to write letters to America.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Yangshuo Experimental Middle School of Foreign Studies

These are the Blessing Hands students at Yangshuo Experimental Middle School of Foreign Studies. This middle school has over 3,000 students and employs native born English speakers. Anyone wanting to teach in Yangshuo for 6 months or a year would be welcomed at this school. The school has recently added new air conditioned apartments for foreign English teachers.

These students study hard to pass college entrance exams and seek to do excellent work. Several of them said that English was their favorite subject. They can write English very well. Without our help it would be difficult for these students to remain in school after age 15 when government tuition stops. Blessing Hands will pay their tuitions in higher middle school, so they can continue to advance toward their college goals.

Jacky

This is Jacky. His mother worked hard to keep him in school after his father died. Now his sponsor will be covering his room and board and other living expenses. His sponsor will get to meet him in August during the eyeglass clinic that Sister Cities of Morehead is conducting in Yangshuo. Blessing Hands children will get free eyeglasses during that clinic, and free glasses will also be given by Blessing Hands to up to 400 teachers who cannot afford to pay for their glasses. A rural school teacher's pay is very low by town standards.

Higher Middle School Children added to Blessing Hands

Eleven students at this upper middle school in Yangshuo are enrolled in Blessing Hands this semester. They are part of the new students added this spring semester. Their school, called the Teacher Training School, has internet access, and the children are excited about getting e-mail pen pals. They each had self introductions and spoke English to us. The $75 a semester tuition for these students includes room and board since they have to leave their village to attend school. This also includes their books and supplies.

Zhonghe Middle School

These are the Blessing Hands children at Zhonghe Middle School. They had a red welcome sign out for us printed in English. Sister Cities had a computer to give the school, and we got to present it to the principal. Two of the teachers who I taught this summer teach at this school. It was nice to see them again.

Lower middle school children like these need $25 in order to afford books, supplies, and room and board each semester even after their tuition is paid by the government.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Yangdi Primary School

Yangdi welcomed us with a red banner saying thanks to Blessing Hands. 11 children there are receiving books and supplies this semester. Primary children need only $10 a semester for books and supplies, since their tuition is now being paid by the government. Six of these children are orphans. We had the pleasure of naming them English names.

Left to right- first row. Tang Yu-ping (Elizabeth), Mo Xiu-juan (Mary), Tang Yu-feng (Hannah), Mo Renjiao (Sarah), Mo Gui-yu (Rachel), Mo Bi-Xing (Martha),Mo Jian-fu(Mark) (Sarah’s brother). Back row left to right children only. Zhou Pin-Zhong, Tang Cun Jian (Nathan), Dong Xian Fang (Phillip), and Tang Ji-ming (Samuel).

Friday, April 14, 2006

Blessing Hands Scholarships

Jeff Fannin and I are standing with the two students who have been selected to receive Blessing Hands scholarships for half of their tuition at Guangxi Normal University. They were so excited to meet the Morehead group and asked many good questions in the class we taught. Amenda (Zu Wen) is on the left. She has written me e-mail asking to write American students. Any one who would like to write her can send e-mail to amendachina@126.com .

Chen Jian Hua is the other student receiving help. She is wearing the pink coat. She often missed lunch to save money and really needed help with her funds to stay in school. Both of these students come from countryside areas where living is very hard.

Zu Wen Receives Scholarship


This is Xu Wen (Amenda is her English name). She is one of the two students who have received a Blessing Hands scholarship for half of her tuition at Guangxi Normal University. She is studying to be a teacher. She doesn't get any support from her parents with her tuition and needs help to stay in school. A committee under Malan Cai's leadership selected the two scholarship recipients.

Xu Wen wrote a lovely thank you letter thanking all the Blessing Hands members for their support.

Nine Mile Primary School (Jiu Li)

The last school we visited was not in Yangshuo County but in the Zhuang Minority area.
We arrived at Nine Mile School while the children were on their midday break from 12:00 to 2:00. The whole school turned out to get a look at us strangers. The kids loved posing for pictures and seeing the results.

This is a very rural school way out in the country of Muming County. We came to tour the school and give aid from Blessing Hands so the school could pay off a debt for school books for 28 children. We added more money to the requested amount to allow the children to buy school supplies. The English teacher and Principal Zeng hosted us on short notice by graciously giving us bottled water.

The Presentation of a Red Envelope Gift

We presented a red envelope with $175 in it for the needs of 28 children in the school. Each child's name was called, and you should have heard them cheer as they ran back into the school enclosure. It was a muddy day so they all had boots on. They were delightful children interested in us strange foreigners. We were probably big news around there for several days since not many Americans had ventured that far to Nine Mile School. Gifts are often given in red envelopes in China especially on formal occasions. We had to make one from paper the principal had, since we forgot to bring our red envelopes with us.

School Gate with Morehead Tour Members

These are the children at Nine Mile Primary School who received money from Blessing Hands to pay for their books and supplies. Only 18 of the 28 children served are shown here, since it was the noon lunch/nap break and many had gone home.

The four Morehead folks who visited the school with me are on the back row. Left to right you will see me, Jeff Fannin, Thelma T. Oney, Danny Fannin, and Megan Frey. They each gave a hundred Yuan ($12.50) on the spot to help the children when they saw how needy the school was and knew that I was a little short of the needed amount. Megan is a student at Morehead State University and really responded to the children's love. She would be a natural teacher. Jeff Fannin has adopted Chinese twin girls from the Wuming area, and he could see what the life of his daughters would have been like if they had not been abandoned in China and adopted into his family. He wants to help the school get a playground. Danny Fannin is Jeff's brother. Thelma T. Oney has a heart for children and wanted to help also.

Zeng Xun Cheng Receives $175 for the Children

The principal and I signed a receipt for the money given for the 28 children who needed money for books and supplies for this semester. Nine Mile Primary School is in a very rural area that serves the Zhuang minority. There are 8 teachers and 81 students there. Principal Zeng Xun Cheng was a classmate of one of my friends, Lu Hanbin, who came to be a visiting scholar at Morehead State University in our town. Lu took us to the school and introduced us to Mr. Zeng. It is truly nine miles from anywhere. We hope to continue to fund the children's books in the fall. The government now pays tuition for all children under 15 in the Western part of China, so tuition support is no longer needed for these children.