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!
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