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Mind, Body and Soul: YOU Made This Happen

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. ~Aristotle

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What an incredible experience our Mind, Body, and Soul campaign has been! It all began with someone asking to help a small, remote school, in the village of Yashui in Guizhou province. This one inspired idea turned into a huge campaign that went beyond everyone’s wildest dreams.

Last fall, our China Director, Cindy, learned of an elementary and middle school in a remote part of Guizhou province which primarily serves “left behind” children whose parents have left their rural villages to search for work in the cities.  The schools are in an area that is home to the Buyi and Miao people of China, both ethnic minorities. Both of these ethnic groups are excellent craftsmen and place great importance on music in their daily lives.

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Many of the students at this school are left-behind children and stay at the school during the week and only return home on the weekends. Some of the children must walk up to four hours up into the surrounding mountains to return home for the weekend. The region is extremely rural and impoverished, and there is not much money for extras.  (Read more about the origins of this project in our blog, “Nurturing the Mind, Body, and Soul of the “Left Behind” Children.”) So when we asked the teachers how we could help, they were thrilled!

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The principals of the two schools were filled with gratitude for the outpouring of support for the students in their care. They spent several weeks planning their purchases to make sure the kids would get the best items possible to enrich their lives at school. This included visiting book stores, music stores, computer stores, and more. There was a lot of shopping, testing, and discussion among the school staff to choose the best items to purchase. Then the hard work of moving, hauling and installation began.

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For the “Mind” portion of the campaign, the students in this region received hundreds of new books. The staff at both schools have told us that the new books have really inspired the children to read more. Both the junior high and elementary school staff have set up a system where children can now come and check out a book to take back to their dorm rooms.

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The teachers and principals did a wonderful job organizing all of the books purchased with your help into a brand new library area.

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Next was the ‘Body’ portion of our campaign. There have been many studies showing the benefits of exercise for learning. When students exercise regularly, prefrontal cortex brain activity increases, test scores increase and students are able to concentrate for longer periods of time.

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And besides the science of it all, the playground is a lot more FUN when you have some great equipment to play with, from basketball to volleyball to badminton and more!

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The girls run to the new exercise equipment whenever they have a break in class. The gift of playground equipment also benefited the entire community as well. After school hours, people of all ages, from families, to seniors, can be found enjoying the exercise equipment.

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The other component to the ‘Body’ of the campaign was to help with food. While we originally planned to buy bags of rice, we decided after discussions with the school staff that supplementing the food allowances of the more impoverished students for their lunches in the cafeteria would allow them access to essential protein and vegetables. In fact, some of the school staff added their personal funds as well to make sure the kids who needed the help the most received better nutrition.

The final part of our campaign was for ‘Soul’. Music, dancing and the arts are a very important part of the Buyi culture, so we were so happy to help them purchase musical instruments and art supplies.

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Generous donations from our supporters allowed us to purchase a piano, electric keyboards, guitars, flutes, xylophones, Chinese string fiddles, drums, clarinets, pan pipes, and more!

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So many wonderful kids will benefit for years to come because of the compassion and generosity of people a world away!

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We give our thanks to everyone who helped make this rewarding project possible!

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