Nurturing Mind, Body, and Soul of the “Left Behind” Children
Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. ~Chinese Proverb
In China, there are over 60 million children whose parents have left their rural villages to search for work in the cities. These “left behind” children stay with aging grandparents or with family friends, although it is estimated that 2 million of them are left completely on their own to fend for themselves. Many of these children haven’t seen their parents in years.
Recently we learned of an elementary and middle school in a remote part of Guizhou province which primarily serves “left behind” children. One of our directors in China traveled to the region, and after reading her report we knew we wanted to do whatever we could to help make the lives of these children a bit brighter.
The schools are in an area that is home to the Buyi and Miao people of China. Both of these ethnic groups have been cultivating the land in this region for thousands of years. They are excellent craftsmen known for their batik, brocade and embroidery work as well as wood carving. Both also place great importance on music in their daily lives and are known as versatile musicians–often able to play the Atabal (kettle drum), Gong and Suona horn—as well as being excellent singers and dancers.
The middle school serves 1,500 students. About 90% of those kids 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 elementary school has over 600 students with over 160 of them staying at the school during the week. Approximately 70% of these children are ‘left-behind’ kids.
Since education through middle school is compulsory, there are no tuition costs, but the children staying at the school are required to contribute about 200rmb ($32) which includes 120 pounds of rice, to help with meals. While that may not sound like a lot of money to us, it is well beyond the means of many of the students and their families.
When our manager asked the principal of the middle school what would be the greatest help to his students, he said he hoped for interesting books and magazines for the students to read because he doesn’t want his students to have to work as laborers all their lives, like their parents do. Both principals also would like to have music classes for their students since music is such a vital part of their culture.
To help the students in these schools reach their greatest potential, LWB is launching the ‘Nurture Mind, Body and Soul’ Campaign.
For the MIND: we want to open up a world of possibilities to the children by installing libraries full of books and magazines covering a variety of topics. We also want to install five computers in each school since most of the children haven’t ever had a chance to use one.
For the BODY: we want to contribute bags of rice to the schools to take that burden off of the impoverished families.
For the SOUL: we want to supply a variety of musical instruments and art supplies for the children so they can explore their creativity through art and music.
For a $100 donation you would be providing:
• 4 library books
• 1 month of rice for 2 students
• A traditional flute for 2 students
• A set of watercolor paints for 2 students
Donations in any amount would be greatly appreciated as we work towards brightening the lives of these “left behind” children. In honor of Chinese New Year, your donations will be matched (up to $10,000) through February 19th! We hope to have the very real possibility of providing a library, music program, and essential food to students at both the elementary and middle schools.
Please join with us to make a dramatic change in the lives of these great kids!