Mojiang, Yunnan, is where the Tropic of Cancer passes right through, where the sun makes its turn. I, myself, also witnessed children turning their poverty into hope through improved education!
This is DaTong primary school in Yunnan. Outside of the classroom, there is a colorful bucket used for collecting rain. 99% of the students here are from the Hani tribe, speaking the Hani language, but the teachers teach in Chinese because the children will need the language for work when they grow up, and this means the kids in lower grades have a hard time understanding in class.
This school has not received funding, and also reflects the poor countryside surrounding it. Volunteers said that the kids there do not know that poverty is a cycle, and this poverty will most likely continue and get passed down to the next generations. This made me feel sad.
But, the children there were all self-sufficient and happy. Even if it’s a simple game, they were all very happy. In the place where I live, not many kids question whether they can go to school, and that isn’t the case here. I believe kids can have “more” choices with their life and do what they like to do, only if they are given opportunities to study.
This is Long Bin primary school. With support from our Soft Toys for Education campaign, teachers have brought diversity into the curriculum, using various materials for teaching, and this had a positive effect on students’ learning.
Also, an early childhood care and development centre (ECCD), which is like a kindergarten, was founded to teach kids through singing, dancing, and drawing. We saw many parents take a break during their busy day farming just to participate in the project. I thought they were going to go against it, but it was only later that I found out that they were fully supportive, in the hope that their next generation can live more happily.
The handcrafts in the ECCD center were all hand-made out of discarded materials that those elders had brought in. “Ever since going to ECCD, I’ve realized that my children became smarter. They sing, they dance, and they come home happily with things that they want to share!” a grandmother, who was so excited, told us. Other parents could not use many words to describe how appreciative they were, they could only say “thank you” and “thank you”.
The trip to Mojiang made me realize that helping children with their education doesn’t end with buying desks and chairs, toys and books. It is not enough. Trucks of toys and books are useless if the kids are illiterate. So, we not only need to provide the physical facilities that they need, but also strengthen the teachers’ methods with trainings, disseminate this knowledge within the community, and help the parents understand the process and result which will encourage them to participate. In addition, we need to have the local government’s support and cooperation to continue projects such as this, truly improving the education quality for the kids there.
Through this experience, I have made many awesome friends from Save the Children, the participants from IKEA Hong Kong and IKEA Taiwan. We tried our best to provide these kids with hope and joy, and the kids gave us smiles and a heart-warming experience. Someone asked me during the trip: “Do you miss home?” And I answered, “Yes, of course, but I know I’ll be thinking about these kids once I get back home.”
I wish I could see their smiles again, raise more money through the Soft Toys for Education campaign, just helping more of those in need. Changing their entire life starting with education!