I decided to give myself a special and meaningful Christmas and birthday present.
I received two emails one day – one from ORBIS and another one from a Christian group. In their newsletters, they invited their donors to have a site visit. The ORBIS one would go to Cambodia (max 8 people only) while the Christian group would go to Yunnan, China. I responded to both.
I got rejected by ORBIS, obviously. I wasn’t surprised at all.
So, there I went to the remote areas in Yunnan to visit the primary schools and distribute Christmas presents to the school kids there. Isn’t it what we are supposed to do at Christmas?
When the primary school students thanked me, I just couldn’t help myself from thinking, ‘what have I done to deserve it?’
The Christian group used our donations to sponsor students, build new schools, renovate old and torn down schools and construct facilities in villages. The first place we visited was a village with a newly built well. It was actually a big project because the organisation didn’t just dig a hole in the ground. They also installed pipes in the village so that the water could reach all the households in the village. The whole project was solely sponsored by this Christian group.
While we were waiting on the minibus, I talked to one of the donors in our group. She told me she wasn’t a Christian. Rather, she was a Buddhist. She sponsored these kids because she thought education was very important. Ignorance is a ‘sin’ in Buddhism. She said, ‘If we have more educated people, our world will be a much better place. Imagine, what will these people do if they don’t have the chance to receive education?’
At the entrance of this primary school, the teachers gave us some wine. I had a sip. It was very very very smooth (and strong like the one I had in Beijing) and it tasted better than whisky. 😛
When I was giving out the presents to the students, I saw a little kid in an oversize jacket. He looked so cute in it. 🙂 I wanted to take a picture of him but I couldn’t find him afterwards.
That was probably the nicest suit he could get from his family.
I asked the kids to show me around the school. They were very shy and none of them wanted to do it. Then suddenly, one little kid came out from the crowd volunteered to be my guide. When I said little, I really meant it. He was very short and he looked very young but it turned out that he was a Primary 6 student. I was so shocked that when one of the teachers saw my facial expression, she laughed.
The next day, we went to a gorge where another school was situated.
The band took us to the school.
When we arrived at the school, we saw a huge crowd. Not only students, we also saw parents of the kids and some villagers. After the procession, there were fireworks too. It was such a grand welcome.
This school was renovated. Thanks to one of the guys in our group who generously made a donation to make it happen. But he kept it very low profile. He didn’t sit at the VIP area nor did he make any speech. He just took photos of the students, his wife and us. That’s all.
The Christian group laid out all the presents including stationery, scarves, gloves, woollen hats, etc. at the VIP area and we started to pack them into individual bags. We were like Santa Claus to the kids. 🙂 I like being Santa Claus. 🙂 I hope these kids are now contributing to the society and are helping other kids and families in need too.
This sumptuous and delicious dinner ended our trip.
Happy birthday and merry Christmas. 😀
21 December 2007 – 25 December 2007
P.S. A few years after our trip, the Christian group informed us that free education was extended to people living in very remote villages, basically everyone in China. Donors could thus choose to discontinue our donations or continue to sponsor students who wished to continue their study in colleges but were struggling financially.
In fact, I don’t want to see so many NGOs in one country. It’s not a good sign. Like in Cambodia where I volunteered for nearly 8 months, the number of foreign NGOs is so high. Common sense tells us why. One of the local Cambodians told me the number of NGOs (foreign and local) had dropped over the past decade which I think is good but still there are many of them. However, I don’t think he would agree with me because he is also a founder of a local NGO. 😀 I actually don’t know what his NGO does. It’s a mystery to me. But some French volunteers came to help him for a couple of months when I was there and they said they helped people living in the slums to build a shelter. Another source told me the situation in the slums has improved. I don’t know if it’s because of his NGO or if it’s because the country is getting much wealthier than before (the Cambodian government has decided to eliminate poverty in the next few years so the country has been working hard on this) Again, as I mentioned in my other blog, don’t use the developed countries’ standard to measure the standard of developing countries. Always use the local standard. And the local standard in Cambodia was presented to me by my students last year in their one-minute presentation here. Check it out. 😉