Right after the Spring Festival, a female believer Jia Li, and another two volunteers in the same group went to visit the children that they sponsored in the countryside near their homes. After a bumpy trip, they finally arrived before noon at the first home where two little sisters lived.
Entering the house after their grandma greeted them, Jia Li noticed that the quilt on the bed was too lightweight for this season. The younger sister got off of the bed wearing a pair of summer sandals on the ground. Her hands and face had skin cuts due to cold exposure.
Jia Li carefully washed the younger sister's face and hands. Upon her request, the little one showed her a glass bottle of Yashuang (brand) cream. She took out some cream with her finger and taught the little girl how to apply it to her hands and face.
The other two volunteers talked with the elder sister and the grandma respectively. Liu asked the elder sister about her recent situation. Deng gave the grandma seasonal gifts of some food made at home for the Chinese New Year, as well as some presents from relatives who came to visit during the holidays.
Jia Li's experience
Jia Li has been a front-line volunteer who mainly participates in student aid projects with a local charity organization in a city in Anhui since 2019. She got to know the two sisters the same year. In the beginning, the project target was the elder sister who was in the third grade of primary education, while her little sister had not been school-aged. Only the two children and their grandma are in the family. Their alcoholic father died from an alcohol-related disease not long after his wife left him because of family conflicts and remarried later. The grandfather had passed away. The family is in absolute poverty with nothing but two mu (0.33 acres) of land. The government gives them 700 yuan allowance a year.
Jia has known the sisters for four years. The elder sister is in sixth grade and the younger one is in first grade. At the beginning of the project, the elder one's academic performance was not good, which was ranked between low and middle in the class. For that reason, she had been reluctant to go to school for a while. Volunteers cared for her and had been accompanying and encouraging her since then. Now her academic achievements have improved much and she ranks between middle and high in the class. Every year, the institution hosts camps for the sponsored children and takes them to nearby tourist attractions, museums, amusement parks, and other places. This is the time when they feel the happiest.
Director Qian's account
Director Qian, who is in charge of the student aid project, elaborated on it. This project aids bereaved children, that is, one of their parents had died. Many of these children had lost fathers for work-related injuries or car accidents, mostly. After the fathers died, the mothers would usually remarry, which would cause great psychological damage to the children. Many bad habits would be picked up when they were young. At this time volunteers intervened to better help them.
After being included as sponsees, each child would receive 100-yuan stipend per month. Local volunteers would visit them once a month or so. Meanwhile, staff from the project department would visit once every three months to give the children their stipends. Director Qian said that the student aid program currently needed to raise 80,000 yuan per year for allowances, which was a little stressful.
Speaking of the sisters, Director Qian was also deeply impressed. "When I first found this family, the children were in bad shape. Apart from being reluctant to talk to others, their personal hygiene, living environment, and other aspects were not good. The grandma could only feed them but didn't know how to educate them," Director Qian said. The grandma told them that she felt incompetent in teaching them, saying, “The two sisters didn’t listen to my instructions. I rather do everything myself. "
During this visit, Jia Li found that the elder sister could almost be independent in daily life, while the younger one still had a long way to go. " Even very small and simple things, such as knowing what cream to use and how to apply it have to be taught, or she wouldn’t know what to do," Jia added.
The volunteers visited them again bringing a large thick quilt to give to them. While Jia Li gave the grandma some cream that she recommended last time. This time, she was very happy to see that there were no more skin cuts on the little sister's face and hands.
The elder sister's wish
After the Spring Festival, the elder sister told the volunteers that she wished to have her own room. After volunteers collected the information of this family, the project director sorted it and reported it to the administration. This family actually has a two-floor house with vacant rooms, which was built by the father. But no one cleans or lives in the empty upstairs which is very dusty. The two girls and their grandma live in the same room downstairs. Three of them sleep on one bed with a kitten and clothes piled up on it. There is an overwhelming musty and damp smell in the room.
The budget required for this “little loving home project” is not high, about a few thousand yuan. Yang Guang sent the project proposal to some businesses that were involved in their projects before. Some were touched and donated items that they needed, such as beds, closets, mosquito nets, lamps, toys, etc. Some donated money directly.
The charity's leadership team
Jia Li, Director Qian, and Yang Guang who are churchgoers of different churches in different places are working with the same charity institution for distinct reasons.
Jia Li is a front-line volunteer who mainly works on student aid projects, and has also taken part in projects helping seniors. In the homes of children and the elderly, a life in poverty far beyond her imagination is directly presented in front of her eyes. She said: "I didn’t have the chance to see such situations before, as if they didn't exist. Now that I have known, I really want to live out the Lord's teachings and try to love others."
Director Qian is the project director. In the past, seeing underprivileged families around him, he spontaneously set up a charity group in the church. Those who joined the group donated 300 yuan a year to help the impoverished children in the neighborhood. The government stopped its operation after a year because it was unlawful though the intent was good. Later, he became part of a charity organization, where he could legally and compliantly do what he wanted.
"Our God cares and protects orphans and widows. Christians should also follow and serve where God's heart is," he stressed.
Yang Guang is the secretary-general of the organization, responsible for government policy alignment, resource allocation, project implementation, etc. Every year before Tencent's 99 Giving Day, Yang Guang will talk about what this organization is doing at his church and call on believers for offering.
A place to live out the Lord's teachings
Speaking of the sponsored children, Director Qian knows their individual situations well. He mentioned two brothers whose mother died living with their father. The volunteers celebrated their birthday together with other children in March, for which the brothers were very happy and ate many cakes. A girl named Yaqian has achieved a big change. The first time she met staff from this organization, she couldn't communicate at all but cried as soon as she tried to speak. Later, she had so much fun playing with other children in the park that she didn't even want to go back home.
Yang also talked about some elderly people that the institution was helping. A 70-something grandmother lived alone and scavenged rubbish dumps to survive. The agency has been providing her with food since she became a sponsee.
"I badly wanted to live out the Lord's teachings but didn’t know exactly how to do it. This institution provides a platform for me to better practice the Word of God," said one Christian participant.
-Translated by Shuya Wang