A Tale From the Deep Mountains
Ye-lun Primary School was built to provide an in-depth elementary-level education to the local children, but receives insufficient funds from the local government to provide an adequate education. Ye-lun Primary School is hugely understaffed; it currently has only a handful of teachers to teach over 400 students.
A Family Legacy of Supporting Education for Children
Supporting children's education has long been a tradition in my family. My grandfather, in his time was the principal of Ye-lun Primary School, and he understood perfectly the challenges these children experience in their daily lives. Therefore, once he moved out of the mountains, he devoted the rest of his life to helping improve the quality of education in the mountains. As my grandfather grew older, my older cousin followed in his footsteps, and began visiting the children in Ye-lun Primary School twice a year in order to bring school supplies, food and clothing. Because there is a lack of books and study materials at the school, my older cousin helped to build a library to increase the children's learning opportunities. However, he was forced to end his work abruptly, as he was killed in a car crash at the end of 2013. Despite the grief that I suffered from this heart breaking news, his death compelled me to continue his work in supporting these children from the deep mountains.
My Older Cousin
Principal of Ye-lun Primary School
Consistently brought school supplies
Visits the children and bring supplies
Created a foundation to support education
Built a library
Creates personal relationships with the students
With the help of San Domenico School and Children in Need, I gathered a total of $350 for the children by the end of summer 2014. Because these funds were not enough to support all the students in Ye-lun Primary School, I decided that alongside visiting them regularly and bringing school supplies, I'd focus part of these funds on supporting one specific student throughout her school career. After discussing with the teachers, I selected one of the students who not only does well in class, but also holds a positive attitude towards everything she does. Her name is Yilu Lin and she is a second grader. Her teacher briefly explained to me her situation: because of her family's poverty, she has to carry her homework and books to school with her hands, without the aid of a bag o fany sort. Therefore, I bought her a special gift -- a pink backpack -- to show my sincerity in becoming friends with her.
Yilu interacting with us in class
My mom tutoring Yilu
A picture of Ivy with the kids
During our visit in Ye-lun Primary School, we stayed at Yilu's house, where we returned their kindness and hospitality with sharing in their housework. I was amazed by the amount of work she needs to do at such a young age, but we were surprised at her skill and efficiency at accomplishing her tasks. We started to prepare for dinner, which is not as easy as we thought. But with the help of Yilu, we learned how to collect vegetables, wash them and cook them.
We first went to their farm to collect vegetables for dinner. It was not as easy as we thought. "You can't take too much from one plant. If you do, they won't be able to produce any more vegetables. Also, you don't want to rip the root up," said Yilu. After 30 minutes of picking and collecting, we got a basket of vegetables, together with a tiny pumpkin and a melon.
After collecting the vegetables, we took them to the front yard of the house, where we placed two buckets to wash the veggies. We needed to wash them a certain way so the vegetables can be cleaned thoroughly and efficiently. Afterwards, snapped them into small pieces so that they would be suitable for picking up with chopsticks.
Cooking the veggies requires some skill too. Since Yilu has several siblings and some other relatives living together with them, their pots were super huge. We collected some firewood from up the hill, and then started to cook. "You need to turn them over again and again to make sure it gets cooked thoroughly." Yilu explained.
I spent the following days in Ye-lun Primary School and nights in Yilu's house. During the days, we did a lot of fun activities. I showed them some movie clips with my laptop. Some of the kids were so interested in my laptop that they decided they wanted to be "computer builders", or software engineers when they grew up.
Time flew, and soon it was time for us to leave. We hugged the kids one by one and waved goodbye. Our time at Ye-lun Primary School was a time of learning, not only for them, but also for us. They escorted us all the way to the gate of their town. "Sister, will you visit us again?" a girl asked, holding the edge of my shirt. "Yes we will!" I held her up and kissed her goodbye on the cheek. On our way out, I could not help but think about them. What will they become in the future? Will they grow taller the next time I visit them? All these questions filled my head. But there is one thing that I'm sure of: their future is bright.
Nuo-dong Town is located in the east of Guangxi Province in China
When we first arrived at the town, we saw children playing around, looking at us curiously
The purple backpack I bought for Yilu Lin.
Kids in Ye-lun primary school
Singing with the children
Children's drawing, their impression of the outside world
A picture of Ivy and Yilu
Ivy (left) and Qian (right) with a group of children
Having fun in Yilu's house
My name is Ivy Liang, the current technology coordinator of CiN. I believe that with everyone's small effort, we can eventually change the future of millions of children in need.