The French International School in Hong Kong has just completed their annual trip to Ningxia. This year they brought school material and equipment to six different schools, a record! We do not have their full report yet but we promise to write again very soon.
This spring, the Lycée International in Lausanne informed us that they were renewing their support of our association as they have for several years now. As in years past, the students have raised money by writing in a diary and soliciting sponsors for every page written. We are heartened by this demonstration of solidarity between young people on different continents, from very different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. Ma Yan's diary continues to have an influence on its many readers!
There are many personnel changes in the association this year! After three years of hard work, Laurent Peyrot will be leaving his post. He and his wife and their two children, both born in China during his stay, will be heading on to new adventures. Laurent brought many improvements to the functioning of the association, notably the setting up of our direct sponsor program, the creation of our new website (www.childrenofningxia.org) and the producation of a film about the association's actions. We thank him for all he has done for the association and for the time he devoted to his work.
Laurent will be replaced by Blandine Ricouart who comes to us from Arras in the north of France. Blandine holds several degrees in international studies specializing in Asia and particularly China. She is very enthusiastic about the challentes of her new job! Welcome Blandine!
A whole team of volunteers, headed by Babacar Pierre Seck, from the Institute of Political Science will be assisting her in her multitude of tasks.
Our page on GlobalGiving continues to bring support from all over the world. We send thanks to Aishy who added us to her fundraiser shedding light on several projects supporting underprivileged girls.
The school year is ending in Ningxia and many of our high school seniors will be taking the Gaokao, a form of university entrance exam. It is a stressful but exciting time and soon we will know how many of our scholarship students will be eligible to continue their studies.
With our gratitude for your continued support, we promise to give fresh news from the field as soon as possible.
Happy New Year of the Rabbit!
As I sit down to write this report, our China coordinator, Laurent Peyrot, and his French-Chinese assistant, Odile Song, are in Ningxia visiting families during the Chinese New Year holidays (Chun Jie). As all Chinese leave their daily routines and travel to their home towns for this festive period, it is the perfect time to find all of our scholarship students at home with their families. It is also very hard to get a train ticket, but luckily that part of the logistics miraculously came through!
Laurent and Odile report that it is very, very cold in Ningxia but that local friends of the association who we have known for almost ten years now, most notably Ma Yan's mother, Bai Juhua, are taking good care of them. While the accent will be on visiting students' families in order to keep their profiles up-to-date, Laurent and Odile will also be visiting the schools that the French International School is planning to visit on their annual trip in June. The schools that have been selected this year are Hu(jia)puzi, Hequ and Liumiao. With additional help from the Alliance Française and Véolia, these schools will receive computers and printers, sports equipment, books and school uniforms.
We are very proud to announce that 14 of our scholarship students have completed their university studies. This is, of course, our ultimate goal: to see them through their studies as far as they need to go to guarantee a good job at the end. Among them are Yang Xia who is now a Chemistry teacher at the new middle school in Tongxin, Zhou Hai who is an assistant to a court judge in Tongxin and Hu Yufeng, now a doctor at the principal hospital of Yinchuan. We congratulate all of them!
Every trip to Ningxia also includes the evaluation of new candidates for scholarships, but our taking them on depends entirely on raising new funds.
In December, Laurent travelled to Ningxia with 2 people (including one doctor) from Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) on an exploratory trip to take stock of the medical needs of the population in the context of MSF's "Mothers and Daughters Care" program. This trip was the first of two planned visits with MSF which will be followed by a one-month long mission. The classic problems studied are gynecological health, malnutrition, delivery of babies, and maternal care. It is evident that the feminine population is the principal victim of the privatising of the health system in China where public funds have not been made available to cover their needs. Once again, Liang Tai Fang of the Ningxia Poverty Alleviation Foundation (NXFP) was our local government contact; the visit of MSF took place with the complete support of the Public Health Bureau. Minling, the field research doctor for MSF, concluded that it would be valuable to send a gynecologist on the next visit which will take place in May. Concrete health programs could begin as early as September as a result of these exploratory trips.
Lastly, we'd like to thank TOMS shoes, a US-based company, that has offered to provide two different types of shoes to the children of Ningxia. TOMS has a unique business model in which they give a pair of shoes away for every pair they sell. Their goal is to provide free shoes to needy children throughout the world. They also provide replenishment shoes as a child grows. TOMS is very careful to not interfere with any local shoe-makers' market.
We send you our best wishes for this new year beginning and look forward to keeping you up to date in the next report!
Our long-awaited website is finally on-line! It is a work-in-progress so please bear with us while we iron out the wrinkles and bring our info up-to-date. Pour nos amis français, la version française de notre site sera bientôt en ligne; merci infiniment de votre patience.
We are very happy to announce the Molly Lee Scholarship Fund, generously created by Maureen and Kean Giap Lim in loving memory of Maureen's mother. The scholarship fund will support 4 university students from Ningxia throughout their studies. Molly Lee, Maureen's mother, was a teacher specializing in helping Taiwanese students pass the English interview for US student visas. She was a very courageous woman who was living in Florida when she passed away last September at the age of 90. We can't think of a more fitting homage!
The Children of Ningxia Association is very grateful to the Lims. We will publish the profiles of the 4 happy students as soon as possible. Our next report which will be more lengthy, but we just wanted to share these two important pieces of information with you right away!
As some of you may know, Ma Yan, the schoolgirl whose diary moved thousands of readers the world over, has been studying at the Sorbonne for the last two years. In fact, she just successfully passed the exams allowing her to continue her studies for another two years. She then plans to go back to China with a prestigious diploma in French Language! If you have not yet read The Diary of Ma Yan (HarperCollins), please don't hesitate! It was awarded the "Outstanding International Book for 2006" by the United States Board on Books for Young People and the Children's Book Council. It was re-edited in the US in June of 2009 with a postface by Pierre Haski and Ma Yan and remains a heart-wrenching account of the hardships of life in rural China for a girl deprived of schooling.
In our last report, we had promised an update about our teacher training program in computer skills, but regretfully must tell you that it had to be postponed. Working with the local authorities in China can bring unexpected ups and downs, and this time, our China coordinator, Laurent Peyrot, was thwarted in his attempts to organize this second edition. We will try again to repeat this program as the first one seemed to be much appreciated by the participants.
Our good news is that the Areva Foundation has agreed to support 2 of our female university students, Hu Yufeng and Ma Dongmei, for a period of 3 years. We extend our sincere thanks to Areva for this vote of confidence. You will find the profiles of the selected students below.
Other good news is that the French International School in Hong Kong has outlined another year of dynamic fund-raising events including the Swimathon on November 13th, a loto-bingo night at the end of February and two evenings of performances at mid-May, the proceeds of which will pay for the LI-HK's (Lycée International - Hong Kong) trip to Ningxia at the beginning of June 2011 as well as provide material support to two selected schools. As in previous years, any surplus will go directly to our scholarship program. This collaboration with the Lycée International is very dear to us as it accomplishes so many of our objectives: providing scholarships to children and young adults from Ningxia province for school and university, promoting international exchange between young people and improving the educational environment by bringing material aid.
We are also happy to announce that our relationship with Earthpulse Foundation in Hong Kong who organized the beautiful "Mothers and Daughters" photo exhibition and gala event last May to support three different associations including ours, continues to thrive. Our on-going collaboration will include more art exhibits as well as support of specific university students.
Until our next report in three months, we extend our thanks to you once again for your support and wish you a happy school year!
Every year since 2004, a group of students from the French International School in Hong Kong has travelled to Ningxia to spend a long weekend with the children of Ningxia (among whom are our scholarship students). They stay with families in order to get a feel for how people live in Ningxia, to ask questions and share their views of the world! And very importantly, they bring much needed school material bought with funds raised throughout the year from game nights, school plays, etc. The experience is always a rich one for both sides. The kids from FIS-HK recognize the importance of going to school in good conditions when they see how the other half lives. And the children of Ningxia are thrilled to have this visit which opens them up to another world. Thus a library was established several years ago in a school that had no books. Last year, the group brought a printer for one of the primary schools we support as well as sporting material, 5 stoves and again, books to constitute a library.
This year 22 tenth grade students took the trip to Ningxia from May 25th to 30th and with great emotion brought equipment to the two designated schools: a middle school in the town of Wu Zhong and a primary school in the village of Bai Yin Wa. These schools received, directly from the hands of the students, notebooks, school uniforms, sports equipment as well as two computers and a printer. The FIS-HK will donate the rest of the money raised this year to scholarships for the neediest students (to be chosen with the association).
One of the FIS-HK's 5th grade classes had read The Diary of Ma Yan this year and had tons of questions about the schools and life in general in Ningxia province. So the 10th graders acted like reporters bringing back the answers to these questions and a lively exchange took place between the two classes when they got back to Hong Kong.
Also in Hong Kong this May, Children of Ningxia participated in a beautiful exhibition called 'Mothers and Daughters: Impressions and Voices from Remote Villages in China' to raise awareness of marginalized women and girls in China. This mobile exhibition opened Mother's Day weekend (8th-9th May) at Hong Kong Arts Centre. It has now travelled to Shanghai and back to Hong Kong (at the French International School - see poster attached) with additional stops planned in Beijing and Yunnan (see Tatler article below). The exhibition is sponsored by the Earthpulse Foundation and proceeds from a gala dinner and auction will benefit the Orochen Foundation, Association Femmes du Ningxia and Association Enfants du Ningxia (Children of Ningxia). Children of Ningxia contributed photos by our friend, Cisko (6co), 5 marvellous triptychs showing the scholarship student, her family and their house. You can view them below along with the compelling portraits of the girls and young women chosen for this exhibition.
In our next report in September, we will be able to tell you about our Summer Training Camp for primary school teachers in Ningxia (computer skills and English). Stay tuned!
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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