• Summary on Napo, Jingxi Student Grants
– By Zhang Zhiqi, volunteer from Tianjin, May 2016
In the early spring of March, springtime is yet to arrive, the cold weather still extant, but love has already set sail. The “Tomorrow Program” has arrived at Guangxi as scheduled and started our work on student grants.
1、Napo County, Guangxi
We arrived at the first stop of our student grants at 6:25 p.m., the Napo Ethnic Middle School in Napo County. As we entered the main entrance of the school, two students greeted us with a bow, which let us felt the enthusiasm of the Ethnic Middle School upon entering the school. Although it was 5 minutes before the scheduled time of 6:30, the excited students were already sitting in the laddered classroom awaiting. This year, the winter of the south was colder than previous years. There was even a snowfall in Napo County during the New Year, the first time many students ever seen snowing. Our talk with the students on the snow has mobilized their mood further. The students still have vivid memory of Michael Jordan’s story told in last school term, and “If you quit ONCE it becomes a habit. Never quit!!!” has become the motto of many students.
In general the study results of the Ethnic Middle school students were better, so we focused on how to make them to be a popular person. On the subject of positive and negative energy, the students enthusiastically raised their hand to speak out their view. In view of the family factor of the students, it is inevitable sometimes their heart will be occupied by negative energy. Therefore, Aunt Jian explained to the students how to adjust their mood, the way to maintain good mind-set. It is hoped that they will become full of positive energy; after all people prefer to make friends with sunshine and upbeat persons.
Before arriving at Napo, Aunt Jian received a pleasant surprise: our grants student Su Yanting presented her with a note book which contained good quotes that she came across when reading books. The note book was filled with classic quotes. What surprised us more was Su Yanting has two such note books, one book was to remind herself to be back on track when she was at a loss, the other was prepared specially for Aunt Jian. This reminded us of what she had previously mentioned that she wanted to join our volunteers team but was unable to take long leave of absence due to intense study. Aunt Jian believed the reason Su Yanting specially prepared for her one note book was because she wanted to pass on her positive energy to the younger students.
Therefore, Aunt Jian included the story of this note book as an important part of the symposium and asked the students to pick up any page and read out one good sentence. Every sentence in the book was carefully chosen and can let the student be inspired. That this note book is commendable was not only its content, but also because of the spirit it carries – to be a “determined” person. After this session, when asked how to be “determined”, the students raised their hands enthusiastically to reply: to implement the notes taken down in the symposium, to seriously finish the home works every day, to pay attention even it is a minor issue…… It appears they have a thorough enough understanding already. After the Ethnic Middle School, our next destination is Longhe and Dingye. These two rural communities were deep in the mountains, the connecting road was paved with stone and mud on which the car staggered. The teacher who did the driving quipped: “this is free massage!” With the encouragement and support of the “Tomorrow Program” over the past years, the dropout rate of the students of Longhe and Dingye dropped significantly, their mentality has become more sunshine. Most gratifying is that there has been significant increase in the number of students who wanted to study in senior high school.
At the end of the symposium in these two schools, the students still have a lot of questions; most of the questions were on the choice of senior high school. Since many of our students have very good study results thus some of them even have the chance to study at the Baise senior high school. However, the family finance situation was the biggest obstacle for them: the expenses of studying at Baise senior high will be much more than at Napo, and they will lose the opportunity to apply for the up to Yuan10,000 per annum encouragement reward from the Napo County to those who choose to remain to study at Napo senior high even they were admitted by Baise senior high. Aunt Jian analyzed to them the pros and cons of studying at these two schools, and at the end she told them: “The gold is always shiny, whether one will ultimately success depends on one’s efforts and hard work, rather than studying at renowned school or quality high school.”
In Napo high school, the number of “Tomorrow Program” students has increased to 70+. The students changed from studying in rural community junior high schools to studying in senior high schools in the county have become more sensible. During the symposium, everyone was focused and took down notes on things they considered to be important to themselves. Having spent time together for 4 to 5 years under the “Tomorrow Program”, the students have a deep affection for us. When we were in Napo senior high school, we were suffering from flu and in order not to infect them, we did not want to have close contact with them but the students insisted to hug Aunt Jian. When the symposium was over, one student wanted to give out part of her grant to classmates who were more in deed than her as she felt that she could sustain if she use the grant frugally. However, Aunt Jian knew her family situation, they lived a hard life as the parents were doing labor work away from home, and she has two younger brother and sister that needed somebody to take care of. Even if she could strive to save 200 yuan (￥200）grant this term, she still needs this money for her university study. Eventually, we advised her to keep the money, and she was touched with tears in her eyes.
To the students of Ethnic, Longhe and Dingye middle high schools, we made home visits. Of the five students visited, four of them lived in house put together with wood and tiles, the wind can enter from all sides. When asked how they made it through the last cold winter, they said the family slept around the fire stove and they could still endure even though it was very cold. A mother was in tears when she told us about her family situation, which was already very poor but her husband inadvertently burned a hillside when he was farming a few day ago. Now they are facing an indemnity which to them is huge.
Nevertheless, regardless of the family’s poverty, these parents were very supportive of their children’s schooling. It looks like the importance of knowledge has spread to the mountains. “Tomorrow Program” will help these students to get over their difficulties.
2、Jingxi County, Guangxi
The unstable weather of Guangxi let us contracted flu but it did not interrupt our plan of student grants.
The number of students of Jingxi 1st high school under “Tomorrow Program” has been maintained at over 100 in the past few years. We can see the ratio of the students under our program being admitted to senior high school was very high. Without question, our grants and the encouragement to the students in every school term have smoothed out the students’ path to senior high school.
The innocent smiles and warm greetings upon our arrival to Jingxi 1st high school let us have the feeling of returning to a big family. Same as in the past years, at the beginning of the symposium, we reiterated to the 3rd year students how to apply for national study loan, scholarship etc. We also told the students the “Three thing the Freshmen of “Tomorrow Program” should know” suggested by our partner, Professor Zhang of Beijing University: “1. Must study hard in the first year in order to get qualified for application of scholarship for 2nd year. 2. Appropriate social group activities are beneficial to university life, but it is recommended to only join one social group, too many will seriously affect study. 3. Have to learn to be hard working and frugal in study life, to find some job in the campus that is suitable for students. In addition, Aunt Jian stressed on the issue of interpersonal relationship in the campus, the “circle of friends” in university is an important part of the university life, while get rid of the inferiority complex and learn to have empathy is the best tool to promote friendship.
Directing at the problems that the students have concern during the examination, Aunt Jian explained to them the Law of Attraction: strong ideas and feeling of the heart will attract corresponding results. Thus, in addition to the necessity of making all-out efforts to work hard, when having anxiety and worry during the exam, one can imagine the look of one’s joy and pride after seeing one’s name on the list of passed students after the exam. Not only can this increase confidence, the most important thing is it can avoid the worry and fear that occupy the entire thinking and emotions and affect the final sprint.
A student, because of unforeseen incident in the family, the poverty situation was worsened. The other student of the same class whose family situation has slightly improved offered her grants without any hesitation and asked Aunt Jian not to let that classmate know who give up the grant. It seems love has spread in the hearts of our students.
On the second day in Jingxi No.1 high school, I brought to the students explanations that is focused on English essay writing for senior high examination, analyzed the questions of the years 2010 to 2015 exams, from essay title leading to writing skills, and at the end shared with them some “shortcut” for English learning. The students learned knowledge of English in a relaxed atmosphere.
With the increase in the nation’s vigor of support on rural education, the financial burden of sending children to study in junior high school to the family is getting smaller and smaller, also there was financial subsidy for rebuilding the decrepit house, the students family situation is improving slowly, especially in Kuiwei, some students took the initiative to concede their grant. “Tow exemptions, one subsidy”, “subsidy for boarding students”, together with the “Tomorrow Program” student grants enabled the junior high students to devote themselves to learning.
Several rural junior schools of Jingxi gave us the unanimous feeling of fervor, whether it was the students or their parents. Poverty did not wear out the unsophistication in their heart. During the home visit to a single parent family, even though the family was very poor, the grandmother of the student still tried hard to let us take away two bags of home-grown peanuts. Although we eventually did not take it, yet we deeply remember her good intention.
Every year, every family may encounter various unforeseen incidents, and during our home visits, we can deeply realize the impact that these misfortune brought to the family. For instance, a student’s father was still in good health when she applied for the “Tomorrow Program” last year. Her father suddenly had meningitis this year and passed away after spending ￥20,000 on treatment. The already poor family was thus in debt for ￥20,000. Then her younger brother fallen ill seriously; misfortune come one after another, if there was no student grant, the family may have given up to let the student to continue her study and to go out of town to work prematurely. The mother of another student accidentally got poisoned and died in November 2015. The family lost one of the important sources of income, and more importantly, the mother’s death brought lots of pain to the grade 7 girl. When we made home visit to her family, she couldn’t help but shed her tears. Poverty is just one of the problems that our students face; the pain that life brought them also needs attention.
Chief Zhao of the Office of Subsidies of the Jingxi Board of Education came over to support us, accompanied us to Ande, Guole, Longlin and provided the students with most timely and most reliable information on the subsidy program, explained in detail to the junior high students matters related to the subsidy program for senior high school students in poverty (students in poverty will be able to apply for exemption from tuition fees, and from sundry charges – an exemption that may be imposed in the future), and subsidy program for poverty students of university (university loan and university students transportation subsidy). This averted the many concerns of the students in the future related to the tuition fees, or even to give up their study due to high tuition fees.
The students asked if I still will come again in the future? I told them: given the opportunity I definitely will come to see you again!> Back to top
• Impressions from the Education Assistance Trip in Jingxi County of Guanxi Province
– Volunteer Xu Yujia from the Beihai College of Beihang University, March 2014
On March 22, along with my fellow volunteer Yao Bin, I participated in the education assistance trip of the “Tomorrow Program” to Longlin and Guole Middle School of Jingxi County, Guanxi Province led by Mrs. Tricia Lin. On the way from Beihai to Jingxi County, I was deeply touched by the beauty of the natural scenery. The humble dwellings I saw along the way reminded me of the children living in the remote mountainsides. Due to difficulties with transportation, many of these areas remain isolated from the outside world. The people are honest and humble, living simple lives. Everything seemed so fresh and lively.
After we met up with Auntie Jane, she described the current condition of the program, and explained in detail things of which we should be aware. During this discussion, I could feel clearly the importance she placed on this activity. She asked the volunteers to be sensitive, to be aware, to fully respect the children’s self-esteem, and to protect their feelings. We were there to provide appropriate and suitable help to the children, not to let the children become dependent on us. The children must be independent and optimistic like their other classmates. They must face their schooling and their lives with a healthy attitude.
Longlin Middle School – The Lively Optimism of the Children is Worth of Admiration
After we reached the classroom, the children came forth to greet Auntie Jane warmly - Those kids always call her Auntie Jian, with bright smiles on their faces. I felt as if the room was covered in warm, brilliant sunshine. Auntie Jane greeted the children warmly back. The scene was like that from a long-awaited family reunion. Auntie Jane asked about the children’s living situations. Due to the exceptionally cold winter of 2013, Auntie Jane was worried for the children. After hearing that the children were fine, she relaxed and began her speech.
Auntie Jane told the children a story about “The Eagle and the Chicken”. She told them that they were eagles that would soar high above in the skies. Even though the feathers in their wings had yet to be fully grown, they would take flight one day and achieve amazing things. The children listened with rapt attention. From their eyes, I could see their determination and secret resolve. They wrote down everything that Auntie Jane said.
The goal of the “Tomorrow Program” is not only to deliver education assistance to these children, but for Auntie Jane to answer their questions about life and about learning, in order to ease their worries. In consideration of the shy nature of the kids, and in order to protect their self-esteem, Auntie Jane asked the children to write their questions anonymously on pieces of paper. We sorted the questions, and Auntie Jane answered them one by one.
Among the questions, one touched all of us who were present. The question asked, “Auntie Jian, if I do not get accepted to high school, will you guys be disappointed? Would you feel that you had wasted a scholarship on me?” This question came from a child barely in their teens, because they wanted to be loved and to be cared for, yet they were afraid that if they were not good enough, the people who cared about them would be disappointed. Auntie Jane assured the children. None of the scholarships would ever be wasted. Love is never wasted. Every child who lives in poverty deserves our help, regardless of whether they’d pass the high school entrance exams and enter an ideal school.
At the same time, Auntie Jane explained to the children the details about vocational secondary schools. For the children who do not get accepted into their ideal high schools, this would be another possible path for them to continue their learning. Auntie Jane told the children her dreams for each of them, “Do you utmost to be the best person that you can be.”
At this meeting, Auntie Jane asked Yao Bin and me to introduce ourselves and to encourage the children. Yao Bin shared the personal experience of his friend as an inspiration story. He encouraged the children to be courageous, to face life proactively, and to be earnest in their studies. I chose the English proverb, “It is never too late to become the person you want to be”, but unexpectedly made a mistake with the grammar. Auntie Jane used this as an opportunity to give the children an English lesson.
From the sentence structure, to the English word structure, to the spelling and ways to memorize it, she gave constructive suggestions to the children to help them learn English more easily, and to cultivate their interest in learning English. The students actively interacted with Auntie Jane. I could see that they had understood her, and taken her suggestions of learning English to heart. They were not so afraid of learning English anymore.
A lively child asked Auntie Jane, “How can we better focus during class?” Auntie Jane smiled. She knew that children were often distracted during class. She asked all of the children to look into her eyes. Many of the children were too shy to do so, but with her patient explanation, the children gradually began to look. They paid careful attention to everything she said. They promised her that they would pay attention and study diligently.
The two hours flew by all too quickly, and it was time for recess. With great sadness and longing, the children said goodbye with tears in their eyes. Auntie Jian promised to visit again next semester.
Guole Middle School Home Visits: A journey filled with sadness revealed Auntie Jane’s immense inner strength and taught us how to be mindful in caring for the children
In the afternoon, accompanied by the principal and the teacher responsible for conducting home visits, we went to the home of two orphans. The children came along with us. The uneven and treacherous path through the mountains made us nervous and anxious. The students told us that each week, they had to hike 2-3 hours on these trails to get home. I could not help but be shocked. The rugged and windy mountain road made even the teacher who was driving us fearful. And yet the children had to hike 2-3 hours each week in order to get home from school. For those of us who grew up in the city, it seemed like an impossible journey. During the trip, the car went around and around the mountains. At times, the terraced farmlands below could be clearly seen. The narrow roads made me nervous.
After tens of minutes, we arrived at the Ma family residence. When we got out of the car, we saw a small, elderly woman with a weather-lined face sitting on a large rock by the door. She had a severely humped back and still carried a heavy sickle on her back. This was my impression of the old woman. Xiufen introduced the old woman as her grandmother who had just returned from harvesting beans from the mountain farms.
Auntie Jane rushed forward and greeted the grandmother kindly. The grandmother held on to Auntie Jane’s hand with trembling hands, with tears falling down her face. She told us that her son and her daughter-in-law had both passed away, leaving behind only her granddaughter. For all these years, she raised her granddaughter alone through farm work. As she was saying this, she pulled us inside. She wanted to give the peas that she had planted and harvested to Auntie Jane as a present. Her granddaughter rushed to help. Unable to resist her enthusiastic offerings, we accepted the peas.
Auntie Jane comforted grandma Ma and promised to help Xiufen until she graduated from high school. As we prepared to leave, grandma Ma didn’t want to let go of Auntie Jane’s hands. She had tears in her eyes. She was so touched that she was speechless. Finally, she let go of Auntie Jane’s hands. I felt like crying. We were silent in the car on the way to the next home visit, each deep in our thoughts. When the car stopped, we had arrived at the home of another orphaned student. Student Wong was lively and cheerful. As soon as we stopped, she ran out to open the door and let us in. However, there was no one at home.
She quickly brought out a bench for us to sit down. Auntie Jane sat down across from her as she told us about her experiences. Her father passed away when she was three. From then on, she lived with her mother, her uncle, and her aunt. Her mother struggled with the hardship of raising her alone. When she was six, her mother broke down under the pressure, locked the two of them in the house, and drank a bottle of pesticide. Her mother tried to force her to take the pesticide as well. But even at that young age, she knew that pesticides were poisonous and resisted with all her power. Her uncle thought the two of them were having a quarrel so did not pay attention to the commotion. As the poison slowly took effect, her mother died in front of her. Hard as she tried, she could not wake her mother up.
Thus at the age of six, she became a true orphan. You can imagine the intense sadness she felt each time she remembered how her mother had tried to force her to take poison and her helplessness in seeing her mother dying in front of her. Even if she could not understand why her mother would force her to drink poison, we can deduce that her mother could not bear to see her daughter grow up with such hardship, and wanted to bring her daughter to another world with her. We learned from the student that as she grew up, she suffered constantly under the village gossip, which left deep wounds in her heart.
Auntie Jane patiently explained to the child, “Those who truly love you will never point and laugh at your scars. Don’t worry about the criticism from these people who barley know you”. The child replied that she would only listen to her uncle, her aunt, and Auntie Jian. She made Auntie Jane pinkie swear to visit each semester. And in return, she promised to live courageously, and to pursue her dreams with all her might.
As her pinkie wrapped around Auntie Jane’s pinkie, we saw that what exuded from her was sunshine, optimism, and determination. They pressed their thumbs together and sealed the promise. I took a photo of the scene with our camera. But what was deeply etched in my heart was the smile the girl had on her face. It was as bright as sunshine and full of optimism. As we left, the girl locked the door. It was difficult to imagine the countless nights this child had passed alone in this empty house. Auntie Jane hugged the girl as tears fell down the girl’s cheeks. At that moment, I knew that Auntie Jane had melted down the walls the girl had put up around her heart and entered her inner world.
Outside the house, endless mountains stretched into the distance. Just below us were staggered terraced farmlands. Sunlight penetrated the gaps in the mountain peaks and shone on the path in front of the house. Auntie Jane held on to the two children. After visiting each other’s homes, the two children had become as close as sisters. They promised to go to school together, to help each other with their studies. I captured the brilliant smiles on their faces, framed by the sunlight shining through the mountains, with my camera. I decided to call this photo as “Elves under the sunlight.”
On the way back, Auntie Jane was silent. In the car, the only sounds came from the friendly chatter of the two children telling each other about their own circumstances. My thoughts remained with the home we had just visited. I understood that Auntie Jane’s silence was the reflection of her grief for the two children, for the difficult life the elderly grandmother lived. But she could never show this sadness to anyone. She was destined to be a messenger of hope and light, brining optimism to the children. I worried about whether she would be able to pick herself up in time for our next event.
It turned out that I was worried for nothing. From the moment Auntie Jane stepped into the classroom, she transformed back into an angel of hope and light, with her bright and warm smile. She delivered each of the scholarships with a deep bow, sensitive about protecting the children’s self-esteem. After awarding the scholarships, she began to speak. She turned her sadness into love and care for the children, teaching them how to courageously face challenges and ridicule, how to resolve and conquer negative emotions. She guided the children towards living life with a positive, optimistic, and determined attitude.
After the talk, the children hugged Auntie Jane and said their goodbyes reluctantly. Among them, two girls pulled her aside and said something quietly into her ears. They then turned and ran off. I was baffled, and followed Auntie Jane downstairs. At the bottom of the stairs, I saw the two girls running back towards us, holding something in their hands. When they came closer, I realized that they were holding sweet potatoes. The girls said breathlessly, “Auntie Jian, you told us last time that you liked sweet potatoes, so we cooked some at home for you.” As I watched the innocent sincerity of these children, my eyes welled up with tears.
At the foot of the dark stairwell, it was silent and deserted. There was only Auntie Jane and the two girls, in a tight embrace. Auntie Jane said something to the girls, who wiped away tears and nodded vigorously. In the end, they said their goodbyes reluctantly. On the way back, Auntie Jane told me that the two girls were applying to nursing school next year. We would probably not see them again. They were torn to say goodbye to her, just as she was torn to say goodbye to them. She encouraged them to study hard at nursing school, so that they’d be able to help even more people in the future. When we returned to the hotel, we said good night and returned to our rooms.
A few minutes later, I saw that Auntie Jane had a new post on her microblog that said, “Returned to the hotel to digest the sadness in my heart”. I felt the same. In just a single day, we had experienced so much. As a lifelong volunteer for the “Tomorrow Program”, Auntie Jane could never express the sadness she felt. She could only digest it on her own. In front of the children, she will always show her sunny and optimistic side. Only with these positive messages will the children feel confident and chase after their dreams like all children.
Just like this, our weeklong educational assistance trip to Jingxi came to a close. The proverb, to have “experienced and benefited so much that no words would be adequate to describe” was how I felt. After returning, Auntie Jane’s advice to me was to increase my sensitivity towards the children in order to give them the appropriate amount of guidance and care. I have gradually come to understand the importance of an “appropriate” amount of care. We must be careful not to single individual children out, to make them feel that their poverty is exceptional because they receive educational assistance. The children of the program must be treated like all other children, so that they will learn and grow with a healthy mindset.
The children should be respected and loved, so that they’ll learn to be independent and self-reliant, to respect, to love, and to improve themselves. Not having the children become reliant on Auntie Jane and the other volunteers is the highest form of respect for the children. This was what Auntie Jane meant by “sensitivity” and “appropriate care”. Auntie Jane told me, “Compassion is not simple charity. Compassion requires wisdom, whose nature is sensitivity. Sensitivity is true love!” > Back to top
• The days in Wenxian County in Gansu
– Volunteer Zhang Guei Zhi from the Sun Yat-Sen University, Oct 16th, 2013
I am really honored to be one of the volunteers to participate in this Gansu-Sichuan’s student activities with Auntie Jane. Whenever I have time, I would like to continue to join this kind of activities with the permission of Auntie Jane. In the days of our journey, I was touched by the lovely students and efforts of all the volunteers of the Tomorrow Program. I have learnt a lot and gain a lot from the students, the friendly people and Auntie Jane.
Now I will report the work in the Wenxian County, Gansu from Oct 8th to 11th, 2013
On our way:
In the morning of October 8th, we departed Chengdu by car going to Wenxian County, Gansu. We took the national highway, but it is not a wide and smooth ride; it is a very rough road with lots of sharp corners. I was car sick all the way. Due to the rainy season in August, the pavement was seriously damaged by the landslide mud. It took us 8.5 hours to arrive in the Wenxian County. During this journey I learnt from Auntie Jane that this Wenxian First High school is the first school that we started the Tomorrow Program in this County. We had 80 or so students from the senior 3rd level high school. The students needed the fund support. Each student can get RMB500 scholarship in each semester. This journey was similar to the past, the purpose is to meet with students individually, understand their basic needs in order to determine the final number of students which we can support. We chose some students to conduct the home visits. We also used the student’s night study time to talk to the students, to solve their difficulties in their studies and life and to help them with their psychological problems.
Verify the number of students and individual interviews:
Oct 8th at 7:30 p.m. We arrived the school, Auntie Jane, volunteer Gao Yong Ji from the Peking University and I, interviewed the students individually. Going through the rigorous and thoughtful elimination process, we decided to take out 6 students from the too poor families and added 19 students from the very high poverty families to support. So we will support a total number of 93 students.
In the process of the individual interviews, I found a lot of the students are orphans or only have single parent. Within the 93 students, 43% of the students are from the single parent family or orphans. The reason that they were from the single parent family or orphans were either due to illness of their parents, car accidents, divorced, suicide, pass away during accident while working, or injured by the fallen walls or bricks during house constructions. In general, a farming household will have more than two children in the family; it is very difficult to have enough farming income to support the whole family. In order to make enough revenue to support their children to go to school, one of the parent have to go far away from home to work, leaving their children at home, that means these children will become having a single parent. Almost all students will choose to live on campus, and at holiday time, they can go home to stay with their grandparents. A significant portion of the students have no grandparents at home at all, they can only go back to the empty poor home and self-cook. Going through the biography of the students and with the individual interviews, I realized that a lot of the students have different aspect of psychological problems. Some of them thought of themselves were very unfortunate, all the bad things happened to them. Some said they never have an impression of their parents, they only met them in their dreams; some said that they know their farther worked very hard and wanted to study hard to repay him, but the school scores were so poor, this is very painful for them. But there were a few mature students, they think even if they have a difficult life and unfair that they have to live on their own, but they will never give up, they will face their challenge in life with a smile face. By analyzing the reasons behind these kids biography, as well as in conjunction with their current and my similar experience in growing up, I know they are lack of proper guidance and love. These students still have knots in their hearts. Therefore I felt that our mission is very important, it is not merely to provide them with the RMB500 of scholarships. The most important thing for us to do is to guide them in their studied in school, to open their hearts, teach them how to be strong and optimistic in life and give them love.
We had spent the 9th and half day of the 10th totalling one and a half day in the home visits. Due to the scattered locations of the farm families, difficult road conditions and far distances between families; I only visited 6 families. These 6 families which we visited were the closest to the school. Even they were the closest; the distance between the 2 closest families was still 30 kilometres apart. The poor road conditions made it more difficult for us, often we had to get out of the car and walked for a long distance in order to get to the student’s home. We were very grateful to the school that they arranged a driver and the Student Affairs Office Director Mr. Wang to accompany us in this trip, without their company and help, our home visits would not finish so smoothly.
As for the house building aspects, due to the 5.12 earthquake effects, most family are in their new homes covered by the Government assist housings program, however the Government only assist in part of the house building, a lots of the house only has the foundation, frames and empty walls. The family cannot afford to decorate or paint their new home because they do not have enough savings or could not get a loan from the bank to do so. We asked a mother of one student, where does the student sleep when they come home during their holidays? The mother pointed at the empty room with no window, no door and no furniture. The student’s room only has a bed made by a wooden broad. A broken door was sustained by a plank wood; the fence in front of the house made by mud even has cracks as if it will collapse any time. We felt very sorry for them, but when we were facing these poor people, we cannot cry, we have to respect them; we want to give them love and strength, we want to help them, but not just sympathize them, sympathy would only give them low self-esteem, only love and care will give them hope for tomorrow!
A story of a girl name Zhou Yu Feng, I think it is necessary to share her story with everyone, when Yu Feng was very small, her mother and brother was abducted by strangers. She has not seen them ever since she has sensible memories, her father remarried when she was still young and she has lived with her father and her step mother and her brother which is the son of her step mother. But 11 years ago, her father past away, the brother dropped out of school with no work. The step mother goes out of town to work to support the school expenses for Yu Feng. Although we have not seen her step mother, but we really admire her approach in supporting Yu Feng. She rather let her own son dropped out of school and let Yu Feng has education in the best school in the County. Yu Feng is very lucky to have such a good step mother, we believe that she will treasure the opportunity and study well.
There is another child name Guan Xiao Hua, she has two bigger brothers and a sister. The eldest brother was married and the sister-in-law’s leg is disable, her sister has married, the second brother is 32 years old, is still single, Xiao Hua ‘s health is very poor since small, parents also has sickness all the time. In order to save money, they have not been going to the hospital for their sickness. This year, the disability sister-in-law went to the hospital for her sickness, they pulled the father along to have a medical check -up in the hospital and found out that her father has the last stage gastric cancer, and he pass away soon afterwards. Later on her Mom was sick also and needs surgery, but to save money, she did not go for the surgery. It is typical rural area’s family that they do not pay any attention to their health and medical care in order to save money, but it will be too late and will have to spend more money when the minor illness accumulates to serious illness, eventually leading to life-threatening sickness. In these rural areas, this is a very typical example of poverty resulting from illness. At the time we were leaving this family, Auntie Jane told Xiao Hua’s mom that we will continue to support her in finishing high school, hope the mother will go to seek the medical help from the doctor. The 60 year old mother held Auntie Jane’s hand and kept on saying thank you. She also insisted that we stay for dinner, we were all so touched and sad ... After we left, I thought of the mother, wondering if she will to see the doctor, but what can we do about it?
Interaction activities with the students:
Because the Wenxian 1st High school is our first school in the Wenxian County that we support this year, we have three nights to meet with the students, except the first late night’s individual interviews, the other two nights were in group activities, being the first time volunteer in this kind of activities with the students, I gain a lot of experience from Auntie Jane in these 3 nights. In order to help these poor children to work hard under the difficult conditions, Auntie told the story of Jordan and Kobe’s hard working efforts in his life. All children were silence. Auntie Jane asked the children how they felt after hearing the story, a child said, we are from poor family, our living conditions are not as good as others, so we have to put efforts and work harder in order to be success. One child said, she learn from the story that we should be more initiative in everything, have an active mind and work harder to be success in life; another child said, he did not try his best therefore his school marks were not good; but from now on, he will look up to Kobe and learn from him, so that he will have good results from the coming senior high exams.
Second night, Auntie Jane explains all kinds of channels to apply for university grants in case some of the students could not afford the tuition fee when they have been admitted to University. The information are very useful to the students. So they recorded them carefully. I really admired Auntie Jane, she is not just a simple auntie, she is always thinking and caring for the students, doing research on how she could help the students. I believe when the students have this useful information, they will have a peace of mind and continue to study hard. Thanks Auntie Jane!
Later on Auntie Jane had taught the children how to handle all kinds of difficulties such as: "loss of loved ones, poverty, unable to keep up with the homework, unsatisfactory school results, contradictions with classmates or family members, confused about their future, stress by the college entrance examination, etc. All children were taking notes very seriously when Auntie Jane talked about how to face all kinds of difficult challenge in life, it is inevitable that we will have the ups and downs, but avoiding the problem is not the right way, what we have to do treat it with a peaceful heart and accept whatever challenge it comes. Handle it with love & smile, be optimistic in life! Auntie Jane had inspired me. I also share my growing experience with the children, I told everyone that poverty not problem, with the help from other people, try your best in doing things, the sun with definitely shine on you someday. We have to be grateful, and thankful to the people who have given the helping hand, and continue to pass on love to everyone. Be thankful to life and the environment, thankful to our parents, thankful to our surrounding people, to allow oneself to grow gradually, purify our mind and heart, let the spirit of love be everywhere in our society! This is how the volunteer Gao Yong Ji from the Peking University face life. I believed the students have learn an important lesson and have thought about themselves deeply on finding their life’s target!
The interaction activities ended with the students applauses. When Auntie Jane said Goodnight to everyone, one girl stood up and said she felt Auntie Jane’s love. This is the first time she felt the mother’s love. She will remember the night and be a thankful person, she cried and all the students stood up also. They sang the song “A thankful heart”. I took the video with my camera video, and sang along. All students were crying, even a 1.78-meter tall big boy was cleaning his tears quietly. Auntie Jane was so touched and cried too. I also choked by my tears when I sang...... Thank you, thank you, dear boys and girls, you are our biggest motivation, please cheer up and smile!
Everyone circled around us after singing, all of them wanted to hug and talk to Auntie Jane. One of the students said, this is the first time meeting Auntie Jane, but she felt like she is her mother already. She was very reluctant to let Auntie leave. Normally, I would feel disgusted when I heard of these kinds of words, but today, it is from a child who loss her mother ever since her young age. It is a real feeling from the bottom of her heart. It touched everyone. Another child said, from now on not complain about life she assured Auntie Jane that she will be an optimistic person and she will not have to worry about her. An orphan said she does not know why she felt very close to Auntie Jane and asked if she can be her mother, she said she has never met her own mother, but she has been optimistic and cheerful, because all the classmates and teachers care for her and from now on, she has a mother. She will put in her best efforts in learning, to give more positive energy to her friends; she laughs and talk but also has tears rolling down her eyes. We were also touched by her, what a wonderful and kind girl! Of cause Auntie Jane would like to be your mother. There was another girl hugging us and said: ”after listening to your story, I feel very sorry for myself, my condition is better than you, and you had overcome your difficulties,, I could not think of any reason not to study hard and being negative on life, do not worry I will have strength and cheer up! Well, we all have to have strength and cheer up, we will live with smile from now on, we believe life will be much better for us.
More touching stories and intimate conversations, although we do not want to leave but good times past by very quickly that we have to say good bye. Around 10:30 p.m. we had to leave, our dear children, let us meet again in the next semester. Charge up and believe in yourselves is most important.
As a first time volunteer in Wenxian County, I believed Auntie Jane and the , volunteer Gao Yong Ji from the Peking University provided me and all o, f the 93 children being supported a very memorable experience. I will probably think of all the young pretty faces, their beautiful singing sound of the song “Thankful heart” during a quiet and peaceful night alone, I will have the feelings of warm and happiness and very touching!
Ps: We will have to continue our journey to Sichuan. The 5 junior and senior high schools were heavy hit areas of 5.12’s earthquake. Since then the “Tomorrow Program” has been funding them for 5 years; those children are waiting for their mother Jane, looking forward to meet her. For the next few days I am sure I will be surrounded by them. Charge Up!
I wish some of my good hearted friends could spare some time to join our events, and the rich friends could donate more funds to help these poor children. Please click on to this website to see details of our organization: /> Back to top
• Blog of Professor Zhang Haixia, Beijing University
Love and hope: From Tomorrow Program - 5.12 earthquake relief report
Another unexpected earthquake that leads to unexpected relief coincidence. This tear-jerking relief report presented by volunteers of Tomorrow Program who visited Guangxi on April/19.
Mrs. Tricia Lin, person in charge of the Tomorrow Program and volunteer Mr. Li Zhongliang, student of Beijing University were participated in the disaster areas of Sichuan for the Spring school-aid activities. They were in the affected areas when earthquake happened! After the 4.20 earthquake, a new wave of fund raising is inevitably. Being an adherent of a rescue plan for 5 years, I am here to post and to share the relief report prepared by the volunteers. We need money for the disaster area but your love and continue supports are more essential. My tribute to Mrs. Tricia Lin.
Jing Xi County covering 8 towns and 11 townships, connecting Vietnam at the Southern area, situated at the southwest area of GuangXi province. 11 ethnic group including Zhuang, Han, Miao, Yao, 99.4% residents are Zhuang ethnic.
Climate of Jing Xi County is Subtropical monsoon. Severe hot in Summer, mild in Winter, average temperature is 19.1 Celsius.
Jing Xi County has lots of natural resource, including 250,000,000 tons good quality of Bauxite is the biggest mining development in Guang Xi province.
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• Tomorrow Program in Napo in 2013 Spring
– Reported by Chen Ji-Hong, volunteer from Binhai of Tianjing, April 2013
From March 9 to 17, 2013 in Bai-se City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
It was most memorable for the three of us, the PhD candidate of PKU Tang Wei, my husband Zhang Xin Chun and myself Chen Ji Hong, as of the Tomorrow Program’s representative Aunt Tricia Jian’s volunteers in Napo of the Guangxi Province in 2013 Spring.
On our way from Nanning to Napo on Mar 10, 2013, Aunt Tricia told us that last year’s Tomorrow Program started in Guangxi, mainly in Napo and Jinxi of the Bai-se City. This year, she would go to Napo first and then to Jinxi and we would concentrate in helping out in Napo only. In Napo, the students under the Program were mostly from Grades 7 and 8. Of a total of 200 students, 110 were from Napo Ethnic Middle School, 45 from Longhe Middle School and 45 from Dingye Middle School. In the past, the number of students might vary from term to term. Likewise, we would have to interview all students before decision could be made. The Napo Mission we made this time would be the same as before. We would be holding two conversations with the students; distributing the grant of $400 to each of them and helping them to solve some problems. In addition to the above, we would make some home visits and to understand more of their living conditions.
First Responsibility: Verify the number and name list of the applicants
Having checked the names of the students in these three schools, as Aunt Tricia had said, our students in Dingye Middle School had been very stable. Three students in Napo Ethnic Middle School had transferred to other schools and three others dropped out after Spring Festival. The latter were said to have followed their relatives to work in other far away cities. In Longhe Middle School, three students had dropped out but they were replaced by three newly joined students. Aunt Tricia had interviewed them separately; all of them could meet the criteria of financial support. They were left out from our previous name lists because of our limited funding. We understand that there should be lots of other students who were in need of our support.
In the case of Ma Cai-Xia, a Senior High student in Napo Ethnic Middle School and a student of teacher Liang-Xiang at the same Junior High. Mr Liang had written to Aunt Tricia requesting for financial support to be granted to Ma as he considered Ma to be a very diligent student who was worth of helping. On the 11th day, we met with Ma and were moved by her persistence.
Another case was Tan Chun-Mei, a new addition in Dingye Middle School. However she pleaded that her grant be granted to another classmate having worse condition than her. Aunt Tricia encouraged her with her consideration and instead the much poorer student was also added to the new name list. Therefore, the total number of students receiving grant was 197.
Second Responsibility: Conversation held with the students
Exchanging ideas with the students was the most beneficial to both parties, including us as the volunteers. Students embraced Aunt Tricia as they saw her waiting for them at the classroom entrance and greeted her warmly. Actually Aunt Tricia only met them once last term, but had given the students so deep a memory. We were assured that Aunt Tricia had not only granted financial support to them, but also brought to them the intimate love as well.
Because of the dropping off of the students from schools, Aunt Tricia was very upset. During the interview with the kids, she urged them to be more diligent in studying and not to quit so easily because of family hardship.
In answering the problem put forward by the students, like “What do I need to do when I come across with problems?” Aunt Tricia patiently explained to them that they need to face the difficulties, accept them, and deal with them with “love”. These were so called “Kung Fu Secrecy” passed onto each of them.
Aunt Tricia also brought to them the power of faith. She told them a story about a young boy from the African descent who could sell an old T-shirt for US$2, or US$25 or even US$1,200 with the T-shirt itself only worth a US$1! There was a way to sell a T-shirt at such a high price, not to mention that we could do more as human being. This talented boy had grown up as a world class basketball star, Michael Jordon. It is true; we should not give up and belittle ourselves under difficult circumstances. We should persistently work hard to develop and advance ourselves from day to day such that we could be valuable assets of the society. This is our belief.
Mr Tang Wei, the volunteer and PhD candidate from UPK, shared his learning experience with the students. He referred to the synopsis of planting local trees to demonstrate with wisdom that “we could not just care about the immediate benefits” and “importance of knowledge”.
Zhang Xin-Chun used the examples of Hong’s Instant Noodles and Airbus to introduce the modern high technique factories. With the advancement of technology, the demand for productivity would be equally high. Kids dropped off from high schools without graduating and chose to work and bearing heavy burden at such a young age, should they know how to face tomorrow’s problem? Furthermore, “knowledge changes future” applied not only to a single man, it also applied to a city, to a country and to the whole society.
Teachers always commented that starting each term, they noticed that many students dropped off and quit from schools. Some went to work in Cantong province, some went somewhere else. Some joined the building industry and some worked in factories or restaurants. Some even followed the backs of others without knowing what to be done. In order to recruit the children back to schools, the schools reimbursed the teachers with the cost of gasoline and fuels so that the teachers could do more home visits. Recently, the government subsidised each student $3 for nutritional meals per day. Together with our financial support, the students could have good food to eat provided they could attend school on a daily basis. Students attending ethnic schools have Meal Cards. The financial support of this term would be credited directly into the respective Meal Cards of the selected children.
Third Responsibility: Home Visits
Home visits were the most painful path among all other tasks. There was an old saying that “Every family has its own difficulties”. Our students’ families had all sorts of burden and full of bitterness. The children under our Program were mainly either orphans or single parent or “home alone” or being poverty due to sickness.
Wooden houses supported by poles to avoid collapsing; light transmitted out from rooms with bamboo made walls; shadows of grannies at the door entrances and shy boy leaning against the wooden poles; all these were like pieces of pictures recording lots of stories. I was pretty sure on future raining evenings with thunder storms, I would recall those “home alone” children and wonder how they could survive in their unsheltered homes.
We made four home visits for students in Napo Ethnic Middle School, five for students in each of Longhe Middle School and Dingye Middle School.
At Long Yong’s home, we noticed that there were numerous outstanding student award certificates were posted at the door entrance. His grandmother who was only versed in local Zhuang dialect would require a translator in communicating with us. She told Aunt Tricia how she brought up Long by herself. “This child is very considerate. I did not give him pocket money and he never asked for any”. “Every time when he was back from school, he helped to refill my water supply sufficient for a week’s usage before he went back to school”. “Though I am old now, I still have energy to plough the land and make sure I had enough crops so that Long would have enough food to eat and could continue his schooling”.
Aunt Tricia comforted grandmother by saying that “The scholarship for Long as a Junior High student would be $800 per year and if Long could attend Senior High, the scholarship would be $1,000 per year. Please let us join you to help Long in his education.”
As we departed from Long’s home, I could not stop wiping my tear when I saw the water tank refilled by Long. At this point, Aunt Tricia reminded us that we should never shed our tears in front of the recipients. We need to hold back our tears under all circumstances as we need to respect their dignity. Being compassionate and merciful would make them feel inferior and self-pity. Volunteers should not sympathize with them, but should love and care for them with sincerity and develop their self-respect and self-love. This is the spirit and principle of Tomorrow Program.
On our way to visit Long Jin-Feng, we heard that people from near to far were excited when Long’s cousin was admitted to a university in Beijing a few years ago. This young man is now graduated and remitted money he earned to his family so that they could build a best house. The teacher of Long accompanying us along pointed out to us the above mentioned house under construction and told us that all the kids would take him as a role model. They should go to school and learn more so that they could have a bright future. Perhaps , an outstanding character in an area could constitute a social influence.
We used to conduct home visits during daytime while the students were still at schools. We were told that the teachers leading the way h, ad picked, s, om, e easier rout, es so that we could arrive in the students’ homes without difficulty. Mr Zhang of the Napo Education Department had accompanied us throughout the days and acted as if he was our full time driver. He introduced to us in detail of the condition of Napo. “Napo is a mountain area, Vietnam is towards the other side of the mountain at a distance of 7 kilometers from us. The village we are next to visit is linearly 3 kilometers away from Vietnam”. Mr Zhang was very humorous not to making the one to two hours of driving boring. It took us one to two hours of driving time, how long did children need to walk by foot? In Dingye, one return trip to and from schools took them 5 to 6 hours of walking. In this school, we noticed that children playing basketball were bare footed. The teacher said that they were just to avoid damaging their shoes. At the time we were discussing with the children in their classrooms, I intentionally checked the condition of their shoes. They were basically wearing plastic sandals and plastic slippers.
Our learned friend Tang Wei described his learning path of 21 years from primary school to doctoral degree as running in a marathon. With perseverance, one could achieve his/her destination successfully. We were moved because today, our Tomorrow Program could bring faith and strength to these bare footed children in running their marathon. I recalled Aunt Tricia’s blog saying that “Only with continuous love and care can we bring to the poor children their hope for tomorrow”. I would like to contribute my best in this aspect.
The most meaningful moment and most sincere friendship made us felt that time passed by so fast. The memory of this spring in Napo became eternal. We were grateful to Tomorrow Program for showering the great love to the children. We were grateful to all friends helping to make the Program work. We were grateful to Aunt Tricia who accepted me and my husband Zhang Xin-Chun to be her volunteers. We also had to say thank you to Aunt Tricia who gave us the opportunity to spend our 16th anniversary in a very special way in the Napo mission. > Back to top
• True Love is Priceless – Wenjuan Wu (Beihai College of BeiHang University), October 29, 2012
I am glad that I had the opportunity to travel to Napo and Jingxi county in Guanxi to deliver education grants, as part of the “Tomorrow Program”. I will treasure these memories.
This was the first time I had ever volunteered. Although it was only for ten days, the experience has affected me deeply. I witnessed firsthand both the bad and the good in this world. I came away glad that love exists.
“Tomorrow Program " made me realize the dire conditions some people live in. I came to understand why Aunty Jian insists on visiting the student’s home, and to chat with them face to face. October 17, 2012 was the first day of our journey. Our group left at 8 in the morning, and arrived at our first stop, Napo county, after six hours in the car.
As soon as we had unloaded our luggage, Aunty Jian assigned us our tasks. My responsibility was to teach the kids how to use the English-Chinese dictionaries and to record transcripts of each home visits. To my surprise, the bright middle school kids I worked with learned the lessons within minutes. Aunty Jian was surprised and pleased as well. Her entire face lit up, and she constantly gave a thumb up to recognize and encourage each and every one of her “children”. I believe this was what Aunty Jian most wanted to see. Her biggest desire is to see the children make progress.
Afterwards, Aunty Jian patiently told them the story of the “American Eagle”. She encouraged the children to overcome difficulties and to persist in their learning. If we hadn’t reminded her about the time, she would have gone on. She is always so selfless, much like a child, making us laugh.
The core of our activities really began the next day following our talking in their “evening self-study classes” time. Aunty Jane told us "We must deliver the love of our donors into the hands of the truly needy children. We cannot waste a single penny from our donors. "
"Excuse me Director, where do we go from here?" This was a question that the volunteers often asked. "This is the right path." We’d search in the direction that the Director had pointed. “Where is the road?” We’d often express our doubts. Yes, this is a photo from our journey. In these poverty-stricken villages, the students often lived in homes on roads that barely resembled roads. In these remote mountains, our initial curiosity eventually turned into despair.
Here, even the health of the parents was considered a luxury for the students. Here, the grandmothers all had bent backs, even when they were standing up. Here, the road repairs were done by the women, because all the husbands were working in far-off places in order to support the family. Here, the children who remained lived for prolonged periods without ever seeing their father or mother even parents. They were used to cooking for their grandparents by grade three, used to doing all the chores around the house, used to cook a special mixing together food for the pigs, something city kids have never even heard of.
But they loved to learn more than anyone else. Their persistence shocked me. I will never forget their innocent but determined looks. During the home visits, whenever I felt close to tears, I’d quickly bow my head in order to hide the tears from the people around me. Aunty Jian had told me that we must never let them feel as if we were pitying them. We need to let the children know that they are just like us, to encourage them to be strong, to encourage them to make progress.
After ten consecutive days of volunteering, we had visited some homes of the students attending Napo and Jingxi Middle School. We came to understand the concept of the “tile-roofed house”, which a broken house covered by some tiles, of the “brick houses” which only a brick case, of the “big-pot of rice” in the cafeteria, and of the “extra-curricular sports activities”. This journey touched me deeply. I felt as though I had undergone a baptism. It was time for me to do something…
Since its inception, “Tomorrow Program” has helped countless children in plight and despair. It has re-ignited their passion for life. It has shown them that the world is more beautiful because of their existence, that their kindness brings warmth to the world.
After participating in this “Tomorrow Program” trip, I will vigorously promote volunteer activities at school, to encourage college students to actively participate in outreach organization, to persuade the people around me to help those less fortunate than us, so that our entire society can be filled with love and warmth.> Back to top
• Journey to Napo and Jingxi – Xinqi Li (Beihai College of BeiHang University), October 29, 2012
On October 17, 2012, I took part in the "Tomorrow Program” to Napo and Jingxi county to deliver the donations that we had collected from the public to the local children in person. Before the trip, I discovered that “Napo” refers to fields on the slope of a hill. It is a place where you can stand on the slope of one hill and take in the neighbouring hills, a place filled with beauty and simplicity. But when we arrived at Napo, the thing that touched me the most was not the beauty of the environment, but the eyes of the children – filled with uncertainty, but filled with desire as well. The reality of poverty cast a shadow of sadness on the beauty of my surroundings. For the children here, the biggest luxury they could hope for was the health of their parents.
The short ten-day volunteer trip filled my eyes with tears. But it also filled my heart with love and strength. The plight of these children made my heart ache. But their perseverance moved me deeply. Even if their houses are dilapidated and crumbling; even if they may not see their parents for most of the year; even if their mothers or fathers have passed away; even if they must hike for three to four hours over through the mountains to get to school; even if they are unsure whether they will be able to continue their schooling, their desires trumped everything else. They persisted in their learning, driven by their desire for knowledge and their hopes for the future.
When you walk into their lives, you will find that in this remote mountainous region where no matter where you look, all you see are mountains, in this place of few roads where mudslides can wipe out entire roads, in this place where one must collect rain water for drinking, in this place where desertification is a serious threat, the children face life with their innocent smiles and optimism. The silent strength in their eyes tells us, “Believe in us, we will overcome the challenges in our lives”.
In the beginning, I did not know why Aunty Jian wanted to visit this place in person. Why she insisted on driving for more than an hour, then hiking for nearly an hour to visit the student’s home, Why she speak with the students face to face. But I understood after we visited Jingxi. For many of the children here, the biggest challenges were psychological, rather than material. Many of them could still remember when their mothers left when they were only three or four years old…
This was the first visit of the “Tomorrow program" to Napo, and its second visit to Jingxi. In Jingxi, when the students saw Aunty Jian, their faces lit up. They embraced her tightly as if she was their mother. They wanted to know how she had been. They put their heads on her shoulder, taking in her motherly love. They gained self-confidence. The uncertainty in their eyes was replaced with persistence, and hope for the future.
They learned the secret techniques that Aunty Jian taught them – to “Face the challenges, accept the challenges, overcome the challenges, and let go of the challenges”. They learned to face the difficulties of life with courage, just like the American eagle...
This volunteer trip has motivated me to learn from these children, to be grateful, and to help those who need help in whatever way that I can. I hope that I will have the opportunity to continue to participate in the “Tomorrow program”. I hope that more people will know of this program, and will help out. With all of our love and our goodwill, we can surely turn even these remote mountains into fertile grounds.
I wish all my “brothers and sisters” good health!> Back to top
• Inspiration of love – Friends from Canada, August 2012
On April 16, 2012 I was very lucky to have the opportunity to attend the “True Love Tomorrow scholarship Program” spring visit to distribute the program’s grant to the students in Jingxi County of Guangxi province. I have learned a lot from the experienced volunteers.
The ten days only visit, I really respect & praise those students; they live in such poor conditions and yet still work really hard. During the interview, I heard a lot of the students whose parents work outside their community may not be able to see each other once a year; I really felt sorry for them. One could slowly stock up the shortage in materials, but could not fill up the feeling of longing for their family to be closed by. No wonder one of the teachers said he was really touched whenever the volunteers from "True Love Tomorrow scholarship program" come to care for the students. I now have more understanding of the meaning of the two visits every year by this organization’s volunteers. It was very meaningful & important for me this year that I had a chance to join them. Although the students have many different growth stories, problems to face and solve, but with our Executive Aunty Jane’s encouragement and warm concerns, they are showing their true feelings & have self- confident about their futures. A girl came up to me saying: “Aunty, I wanted to be a volunteer just like you when I grew up.” I was very touched. Because of "love" we are together; to face any difficulties, we will be strong & have passion in life. Aunty Jane has ever ending stories, these moving stories affecting the students & also the volunteers interactively, it made me feel happy and grateful. A giver is also a receiver; it is never too old to learn. Hope that I will also have the opportunity to learn from Aunty Jane in the future, and let the love & passion continue on to the others. May these students have good health & happiness; wish them all the best when they grow up. Wish they could make some contributions in their community and the country in the future.> Back to top
• Visit Qingchuan again – Cui Dan (Tianjin), December 2010
Still remembered on May 12, 2008 at 14:28, the peaceful life of the people in Sichuan was broken by the big earthquake. Within minutes the enormous landslide, cracks on earth, tumbling rivers and streams flashed away many houses, destroyed roads, every thing collapsed! The rolling stones, the mud-rock slide, the quake lakes ......Qing Chuan County located in the most northern side of the Si Chuan Province, is within the Long Men Mountain fault zone; instantaneous the place became an isolated island, homeland was destroyed, people were separated & lost.
At the time of the rescue effort, from old to young, from entrepreneurs to panhandlers, from leaders to commons, trillions of people focused on the disaster area, extended their helping hands to the victims. Trillions reach out with their warm heart to do what ever they can to help, as if they had enormous energy to make the dark & sad environment into a blue & bright sky. Numerous volunteers, foundations, charitable organizations went to the disaster area, it was the same time that, “Tomorrow Program” student scholarship foundation was form. It was initiated by Professor Chen Shi Yi of the Beijing University & Professor He Zhi Ming of the University of California, L.A. Branch together with the volunteers from China, Taiwan & USA. Ms. Tricia Lin is the CEO of the “Tomorrow Program” who is responsible for the implementation of all programs. After she learned of the Sichuan disaster, she had travel under the most difficult road conditions (steep hills, muddy & slippery roads) to reach the Qing Chuan County in Si Chuan Province to investigate and study personally with strict procedures to identify the 210 poor children from Sanguo village, Muyu townships & Guanzhuang village to be qualified for the student scholarship. The main purpose is to help them continue with their education in school. Beside the financial support, Auntie Jane also care & love them, helped them with their psychological problems after the disaster, let them feel that there is love in people’s heart & they will not be left out from the world. Therefore, many “Tomorrow Program” students call Auntie Jane “Aunty Jane” as she is one of their family members.
Helping people will gain respect from others, therefore many friends enjoyed the charity work. A famous author Bing Xin once said, “People admire the present beauty of a blooming flower, but did not realize the bud underneath the ground, has struggled to grow with blood & sacrifice before the flower bloom.” It is very difficult to imagine the tedious & difficult works that we had done behind the “Tomorrow Program”, going into the mountain area, visiting schools and raising the scholarship funds etc. ......The tremendous work is often shared by only a few of our staff. The amount of work performed, the man power & the financial resources we used is equivalent to the monetary donations of a couple of Yuan to ten thousand Yuan received from the donors. Regardless of the difficulties, “Tomorrow Program” will continue persistently. Aunty Jane will organize the volunteers & personally visit the schools in the Qing Chuan County to meet the students at the beginning of each school semester.
In October, 2010, when a friend heard th, at we are going to Qing Chuan to assist students again, he expressed his doubts to us, he wondered if the students still needed our help. At present, most of the charitable organizations left Si Chuan already, what kind of power leaded the “Tomorrow Program” to continue? Actually there is a simple reason: We not only wanted the poor student to continue their studies, but also hope that they will grow out of the earthquake darkness, make them feel responsible to the society, become a successful person in the future. “Tomorrow Program” never use the school marks to judge the students, we never demand them to enroll into famous university, do not hope that they will twist their conduct for this goal. We always tell the students: without the profound blue sky, may have the elegant white clouds; without the big ocean, may have the graceful creek; without the wild fragrance, may have green grasses. So long as one found their own good direction, own brightness & own sound, then life will certainly be splendid. To give others fishing net is better than to give a fish. To assist others to help themselves is our core principle & objective.
Indeed, the bursary is essential. Without the bursary fund, the students will loss their chance to studies, without going to school, the student will not have the basic education for their growing development. Raising the bursary funds is the basic foundation of our work. But our main goal is not limited from there.
At the beginning of each semester, Aunty Jane will make special arrangement to talk to the “Tomorrow Program” students for several hours; to educate them to find the value of life. Mr. Roy Luo once said that the countless wounds are life’s best thing, each wound symbolized one step forward in life. The legend said the thorn bird, is a strange animal in the southern hemisphere, it has the most beautiful sound in the world but only sings once a life time; from the beginning of its life, it is dedicated to find the thorn tree. Once it was found, it will strike his small body into one of the longest and sharpest thorns, while it is bleeding, it cry in tears, its crying sound is like it is singing the poignant and engaging song until it is exhausted & die. Every one listen to the singing of the thorn bird, God is also smiling in heaven. At the end every one paid the upmost final respect to the bird. Every one knew it took the deepest wound & pain to exchange for the finest thing in life! We have to constantly strive for our self-improvement. The thorn bird’s last song, is not the death elegy, it is the marching bugle! We hoped the “Tomorrow Program” will help each student to forget the sadness of the earth quake, look forward & sing the most magnificent song in life just like the thorn bird!
A pessimistic person will defeat himself and live a miserable life; an optimistic person will challenge & conquer the difficulties in life. A pessimistic person’s future is very limited because he will not face up to the challenges. An optimistic person’s future is bright because he will solve all the problems in life. Being pessimistic, everything is impossible but being optimistic, all matters are possible; pessimistic cannot achieve much in life, optimistic can accomplish a lot & will be successful. We hoped through education of love, virtue & value of life, each student in the “Tomorrow Program” will become optimistic & positive. Ho Cheng Tao, a grade 1 junior high student in the Qing Chuan Middle School, lives in the mountain’s temporary board room with his father, his family is extremely poor. After his mother past away during the earth quake, he became very quiet & has no smiling face. Aunty Jane comforted him & cheered him up. Finally he started to open up & talk about his own feelings. He also put up a smiling face in front of our camera. We felt blessed to see each student in the “Tomorrow Program” is growing happily & positively.
We will not loss our direction, if we follow our good hearts, the bright sunlight will shine on us if we open our windows. Our education of love, virtue & value of life is to brighten the student’s heart & help them find the meaning of life. Principal Yang of Guanzhuang Middle School praised the “Tomorrow Program” like this: “No other charitable organization has the same patience, dedication & determination as the “Tomorrow Program” in helping the students in the disaster area. It is true that we are very closed to the students & touched their hearts. In October, 2010, when we entered the Mu Yu Middle School’s self study hall, the students sang for us: “Thankful heart, thank you, we are grateful that you are always by our side, giving us the courage to be ourselves ......” The song was full of warm feelings with the beautiful sound echoes around the study hall; all of the volunteers were very touched & have tears in their eyes. Our two years sincere effort in listening to the students has opened the students’ hearts, while we care & love them; we also feel the happiness ourselves. While we help these students, we are also touched by them. We once received a student’s letter, one of his writings in the letter said: “I really look up to you & would like to become the same person as you in the future.” In the southwest drought and the Yu Shu earthquake disaster, one of the student donated RMB50.00, the amount may seem small, but it was the savings of her two weeks living expenses … She is the student of “Tomorrow Program” orphan Xu Yan. In 2010, we enter Qing Chuan Senior High School, the new leader of the environmental protection team Yang Biao leaded everybody to take an oath said: “We have to continue with the spirit of the “Tomorrow Program” to help others in need in the future!” The actions from the students had given us the strength & faith to carry on firmly with our mission for the past two years. We are not afraid of the challenges & difficulties we had encountered. We will march forward with the students proudly to face every situation.
We started our mission with passion, our belief & strength will become solid, it will continue to glow happily!
Our students started to acknowledge our effort, they will follow the right direction in life & their dreams will come true.
Please click on the picture link below to see the activities of the “Tomorrow Program” & the stories of the students:
1、Qing Chuan County’s Quan Zhuang Middle School, San Guo Middle School & Mu Yu Middle School > Back to top
2、Qing Chuan Senior High School, Qing Chuan Technical High School
• The true feeling of the Journey of Qingchuan – Cui Dan (Tianjin), March 27 to April 3, 2010
Boundless hills, smoke rising from chimneys, bright yellow vegetable fields, I was excited and joyful to join Aunty Jane, two volunteers from Beijing & one from Chengdu to start our journey to Qingchuan. I felt very good to enter into the mountain area the first time, although the road was rough but it did not discourage us to ride on. The distance from Chengdu to Qingchuan is quite long. While we travel we had to ask for directions, it took us near 6 hours to reach the Sanguo village of the Qingchuan County. During the 6 hours, through the conversation with the skillful driver, we had a different kind of understanding of the beautiful scenery in front of our eyes. We discovered that the peaceful lake was the reincarnation of the quake lake; the growing little aquatic plants, were the reincarnation the vigorous tall and straight big trees; the partially visible still objects in the lake were the reincarnation of the roof tops of houses ......Yes, underneath this beautiful lake, it used to be a busy town. A cool breeze flowed by had made some waves in the lake. We hold our breath to listen, we seemed to hear the life summon! On our way to Qingchuan, we encountered bumpy road condition, landslide, traffic jam etc..... However, regardless of all difficulties, it did not prevent us to go forward!
Beautiful quake lake Street of Muyu village On road to family visit
Last week, my friend bought the roasted sweet potato from the peddler again, after she paid, the farmer reached in his pocket & took out 2 brand new RMB100.00 bills (200 Yuan) together with the proceed of the sweet potato sale & told my friend that it was the donation to support one orphan of the “Tomorrow Program”.
During the day time, we made the family visits. The earthquake wiped out the entire Qingchuan County. Although two years had passed by, but the road conditions were extremely bad. It was disappointing to see there were no nice roads in Sanguo, Guanzhuang & Muyu. The gravels, the bricks, the transport vehicles, the construction machine were all over the entire county just like a giant work site. Even the Sanguo & Guanzhuang had the preliminary appearance, but the dust & mud in the area gave us headaches. On the road to the family visits, there were two kinds of road conditions, dust flying every where or mud covering the roads.
The warm sun is supposed to be the treasure of Sichuan, but this treasure is not welcome by every one of us, because its appearance meant we will turn into a giant vacuum. When the vehicles speed pass us, the dust on the road will flow high in the air & the dust will cover us all over. We could not see any thing but yellow dust, the houses; the automobiles vanished in front of our eyes in split second just like magic. We had to hurry & cover our noses & mouths, bend down to walk forward. The shower & drizzle are very often in here, the smoke flow from the kitchen chimneys, the light fog & breeze actually had its own character and style look like a peaceful scenery; however the muddy mountain road increased our worries. The mountain road was rugged & dangerous that made our journey very difficult. It was just like walking on the hundreds of broken crag mountain ranges. Our children grow up in the city were difficult to imagine how difficult the remote road conditions were before they reach this area. On top of the already rough road, a whole night’s rain made the mountain road even muddier to withstand. We curl up our pants, walk in tippy toe cautiously. The road condition was so difficult to bear. Such mountain road was difficult as one climbing up to the blue sky. Comparing to our students in the area, they said the road we are using was not so difficult to them. The small alley they use on daily basis is much more dangerous & steep; they use it because it can save up half of the time. No matter where the home of these students situated, on the mountain or on the near by road, there are still homes not rebuild completely; some of the student still live in homes made of awning or cardboards. Even if they live in a new home, some family still had to bear the pressure of repaying the loan to rebuild there home. The country only provides 1.6 thousand Yuan subsidies for a three-person family (four person family will have 1.9 thousand Yuan subsidies); the remaining cost of rebuilding their new home was obtained from the bank. In Sanguo village, one family told us that they felt very lucky even they have to deal with the pressure of the bank loan repayment.
On March 29, the teacher of Sanguo Middle school leaded us to visit the home of a 3rd grade 1st class senior high student Wang Wan Hong. When we arrive there, we were shocked, we could not believe our own eyes; her home does not even have door & windows, several worn-out planks stand vertically used as the front door, a straw mat hanging to block off the wet & cool air from the outside. I really did not know how this can be called a house & how people lives inside. Wang Wan Hong’s mother welcome us when she saw us arrived. When we talked & gave our regards to her, she just put up a silly smiling face. We found out that she is mentally disable, therefore, she did not understand us at all; the family’s livelihood is entirely depends on the father. He usually works odd-jobs locally; in addition they also needed to look after their old grandfather too. At this moment, the grandfather walked out & did not speak much, but we can see he was excited to meet us. Upon his permission, we enter the room, it was very dark, did not have any furniture, only some sundry items as if some old antiques dig up from the ground, worn-out & just lying around disorderly & very dusty. Looking at Wang Wan Hong’s very poor family, mentally ill mother, old grandfather, we all feel very sad. It was hard for us to imagine, how could Wang Wan Hong bear the senior level grade’s pressure & achieved such excellent school result under this kind of environment?
Inside view of Wang Wan Hong’s home Grandpa & mentally disable mother of Wang Wan Hong
We met a lot of the above mentioned situation in the entire family visit process. Our eyes were wide opened not merely for the discovery fact, but also felt very sad to see these situations & closed our eyes.
A long day mountain climbing & river crossing for the family visits, met a lot of poor & wounded families, we wondered whether the children will meet us with their sad faces, but when we talked to them in group discussion sessions in the evenings, they shown us bright smiling faces. Telling the stories of the “Selling sweet potato’s young Liu”, “the Americas hawk”, “the secret book of the four move Kung Fu (Wu gong)”..... In the two hours group discussion period, to our surprise, the extremely exhausted Aunty Jane had burst out the most powerful strength! The children listened to her with complete concentration and interacted with her with enthusiasm. We were unable to see the shadow of sorrow for the difficult life on the students’ faces. Each volunteer felt really warm in our heart. When the first discussion session approaching the end, we requested each student to write down their worries and problems, we tried to explain or solve their problems the next evening. At that moment, there were completed silences in the big classroom. Through their serious looks, we saw that it reminded them they had once been poor and homeless, hopelessly crying their heart out. We realized time passes by day by day, May 12’s earthquake grieves fad out from the memories of these students slowly, but they were still withstanding many sorrows and have doubts in their lives.
The notes we received from the students, we discovered most of their problems and question were the study pressures, poverty family problems, parents not in harmony, missed their passed family members, how to deal with their friends, the felt inferior, no self confidence & not socialized etc… In Aunty Jane’s explanation process, we saw the children shown their confidence expressions; we seem to see that they had sharpened their sickle, working under sweat to rebuild their homeland.....
All along, we gave the children not merely the financial support but also our care & warm regards! Nothing could touch people deeply except to provide our heartfelt concerns & love. Our love & care, to th, ese students flowed through ours fingertips & the students accepted our love & care gradually with trust. It is grateful that through our diligent work, we saw these students over come their difficulties & began to feel happy about their li, , , fe. , After the discussion, Wang Wan Hong of the Sanguo Middle School se, nt a short note to us: “I believed I could be the A, meri, cas hawk in the future, because I have Aunty Jane, you gave me so much , love, my life, will certainly be more splendid in the future!”
Although the c, hildren have ex, perienced disaster, poor & devastating situations but their bright smiling faces made us felt that they are lively,, energetic & optimistic! Although they are shouldering the enormous pressure on thei, r studies and the poor family situations, but it will not break their strength, they will march forward against all dif, f, iculties courageously. Looking thru their eyes, we know that the young boys & girls will have the power to standup & conquer every situation! They felt g, , rateful that they’ve been supported by us; they also felt that they must be a responsible person in the society. Any way, we saw the notes in the book of the environmental protection program of the Guanzhuang Middle School, the team leader Yang Ming Qiang had written the objectives of the program, group establishment & the assignment of their , daily works. On a daily basis, our students will spend time t, o water the school plants, to clean up the school ground, to collect the recycle p, roducts and sell them. They’ve accumulated RMB57.00 (57 Yuan) for the school. This money will be used to buy the plant seeds, this way it will enhance the green environment of the school’s new campus. In addition,, it was astonishing & emotionally touched, we saw a, note written on the front p, age of the p, , rogram’s book: “We are only doing minor jobs to make our school green & environmentally friendly, from the day we made our oaths, the continuation of the “Tomorrow Program”; Aunty Jane & the volunteers brought us not only the “Tomorrow Program”, but also brought us a peaceful mind”. These students, after facing all the disaster damages, had shown us that they are very kind & responsible, their dedication toward their works. Who said this is not a kind of strength in them? Due to this kindness & responsibility level, it gave us solid good hopes for the future! We believe only when one experienced the darkness & still felt hopeful, and then one will enjoy life more when the sun shines.
Let the helpless be powerful, let the pessimistic continue march forward. It is precisely this kind of love & strength made our tears rolling down on our face!
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Listen to Aunty Jane devotionally
• A Hebei farmer’s story – Tricia Lin (CEO of "Tomorrow Program”), November 25, 2009
I introduced the “Tomorrow Program” to my f, riend in Tianjin in the beginning of September, , 2009. After my trip to the disaster area in October, 2009 I , send her my trip report , wi, th some photos to let her have more understanding of our student scholarship project. After she saw my report & the photos, she immediately told every one she knows about our project & the “Tomorrow Program” including the farmer from He Bei whom she buys sweet potatoes from frequently.
Last week, my friend bought the roasted sweet potato from the peddler again, after she paid, the farmer reached in his pocket & took out 2 brand new RMB100.00 bills (200 Yuan) together with the proceed of the sweet potato sale & told my friend that it was the donation to support one orphan of the “Tomorrow Program”.
Day before yesterday, I received my friend’s email, she said: “I had delivered the RMB200 donation receipt & the orphan’s personal information to the farmer; upon he saw the photos he was so excited & told me that he will continue to make the donation to the “Tomorrow Program” to support this orphan every year. When I am about to leave, the farmer insisted to give her some roasted sweet potatoes for free; I respected his generosity & took one sweet potato from him.” My friend also added: “Love & kindness is not only transmittable but it is also contagious”.
Today is Thanksgiving Day in USA, I am thinking of the sweet potato farmer & my friend. I wonder how many sweet potatoes he sells under the sub zero low temperatures in order to save up the RMB200.00 to donate. Also thinking of my friend, her involvement & enthusiasm in promoting our program; even the sweet potato farmer is one of her propaganda target. I was moved extremely, also felt very grateful by every one’s contribution & support; especially the sweet potato farmer in Hebei.
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