The left-behind children have been up in the media lately. People discuss why they are left and if they have any future at all. I’ve done a video (watch here) where I’m describing and discussing them and their situation. It’s a tragic one which is why I wanted to shed a little bit of positive light on this issue.
As mentioned in an earlier article (here), there are actually Chinese people who takes time off to volunteer. My friend, Haoran from Wuhan Technology University helped me get into contact with one of those today and asked him a few questions about his volunteer experience in China. I hope you’ll enjoy the read and the following pictures from his trip.
When did you go to Guizhou? What kind of volunteer work did you do there?
As a volunteer, I worked in Guizhou from July, 2013 to July, 2014. I’m a member of the Fifteenth Chinese Youth Volunteer Teachers working in Sandu Shui Autonomous County, Qiannan Buyei and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Guizhou. I was a part of a government programme providing assistance in the poor areas of the country. While I was there, I was teaching the children and did other volunteer service work as well. My main tasks were: 1. volunteer teaching, 2. taking care of left-behind children, 3. researching the current situation of basic education and left-behind children in poor areas.
How did you feel after meeting the children the first time?
The first time, I had contact with the children, was when I arrived in Guizhou together with an organization from Hong Kong. We were going to visit the children and their family members to talk about the funding for their future university studies. The children were both excited and happy to see us but also very worried about the funding because they already passed the entrance exam but were still waiting for an answer as to whether or not they would receive the funds. I was very pleased to see that they had the change to go to university despite the circumstances.
After two months, I moved on to the younger ones. I went to a primary school in the county where I was met by happy smiles and excited eyes. Though, one look at their clothing reminded me about the fact that they were all living in poor conditions wearing old clothing and broken shoes.
How did you feel after spending more time with the children?
After spending more time with the children, I learned that they were just like other children, innocent and happily naïve even though the environment, they’re growing up in, is tougher than normal children with two parents taking care of them. These children were excited to learn about the world, and I believe that if they can overcome the struggle of growing up without their parents nearby, they will definitely become strong individuals.
What did you usually do in one day when volunteering?
When I was in Guizhou, I was a math teacher for high school students. Every day, I would teach two classes and then help the students out with their homework. Because most of my work was in the mornings, and if the school didn’t have any other activities planned, I would go to a small village to see the younger students to get to know them better. I also learned about the needs of the school and helped spread the word about this organization and their work.
What were the pros and cons about volunteering?
Pro: staying there for one year made it possible for me to better understand the life circumstances of the area. I also like the fact that when I went home again, I was able to enlighten other students about this organization’s work and help them organize going there to help as well.
Con: There aren’t enough volunteers for the poor areas of China so I hope in the future, there will be more people enrolling in these programs to help people in need.
Would you recommend this to your friends or others? Why?
I would definitely recommend this volunteer work to others. While I was there, me and the other volunteers already encouraged more of our friends to join. Not all of them signed up as volunteers but then they would help in other ways. I think helping people in need is a beautiful thing.
A big thanks to Changzhen Li for answering my questions and telling his story. I also want to thank Zhen Li for helping me writing an even better post (the Chinese version).