Thursday, October 11, 2007

Our First Visit at TongRen...2007

As we round the turn to enter the school there stood lines of students, teachers, and parents in two long rows to welcome us. We climb out of the car and are greeted with the placement of Heda’s around out neck. Heda's are Tibetan prayer shawls. To see the parents who some have traveled many miles, even days to meet us was a humbling experience. Most do not have transportation and so must walk or they may catch a ride for some of the way, but again, many spent most of their travels on their feet. The love for their children and the appreciation they have for the opportunity of education given to their children is seen in their eyes and faces, but difficult to express in words.

We had lunch with the girls and later on in the evening there was a party where the girls performed with singing and dancing. They had a great amount of talent and enthusiasm. We ended the evening with the exchange of gifts for the college students.

The next day we began taking photos of each of the girls and began the interviews of each of the girls. This process took two wholes days and into the evenings. I learned so much about the girls through these interviews. As sponsors, when you get the reports you will too learn more about the girls you sponsor. What I found most intriguing at the beginning was many had similar answers to the question of if they needed anything. They want composition books and English/Chinese and other translation dictionaries. The most difficult answer that a few of the girls said was to have money to able to go home on the weekends even just once a month. I asked them how much a taxi would cost for the round trip and found that the cost is between 5-7 RMB, yes less than $1! It was very difficult not to reach into my pocket at that moment and give them that wish.

They all spend most of their time studying and all want to go to college when they finish. Most said they want to be a teacher or a doctor and want to come back to Tongren or their home village to help others they way Mama’s Wish is helping them. Almost all the students say that their most favorite activities are singing and dancing, and many said badminton and reading.

When I asked the students to tell me about a favorite memory, some said when they found out that they can go back to school, many said it was the day they graduated from middle school and the teachers took the students to a field for a party to celebrate their completion of middle school. What I found most touching is that some of the girls said that on the weekends that they get to go back to home, their favorite memory is brushing their moms hair and washing their dad’s feet.
Despite the extreme poverty and challenging lives, these girls have hope and a sparkle in their eye. They study very hard because they know that if they succeed in school, it will provide the opportunity to alleviate the poverty for them, their family, and even the village they are from. They are all thankful to their sponsors who have given them the gift they thought was denied…the gift of hop, the gift of education!

Laureen Dorow

Education Director