One of the things I work on is supporting educational opportunities for kids in a poor, rural village in Southern China. Five years ago now, my dad, sister, and I visited my dad’s hometown and seeing the lone primary school staffed with teachers who couldn’t afford chalk and that was overloaded with kids, many of whom only attended class for half the day because they had no place to eat lunch and had to walk home for lunch–which was sometimes miles away on the other side of the mountains. We decided to do something.
With the support of hundreds of donors, the Lan Cun Education Project built a cafeteria for the school that would provide affordable lunches so that even the poorest kids could have a place to go and something warm to eat. Afternoon attendance at the school is no longer a problem.
The best part is, the village saw what we had done, and those who could afford it (and even those who really couldn’t) came together this year to raise money to improve education. It wasn’t a ton a money, it’s not enough to solve all of their schools’ problems. But it’s an amazing example of how good work amplifies itself. The mayor asked my dad for help on planning how best to use the funds, and my dad just flew out on Christmas morning.
Now, we’re trying to help address another problem–girls in the village stop attending school at age 12 when tuition is no longer free. The families in the village are poor, most manage to live on less than a dollar a day, so if they can afford to pay for a child to attend school, they choose their sons. We want to sponsor girls with scholarships that will carry them through high school graduation, so that their families no longer have to make such a difficult choice.
Here’s to more good things for the Lan Cun kids in the new year.