Monday, August 15, 2005

Why we are so lucky

I was reading this email from Daphne, a friend of my parents who lives in Norway and just spent 2 weeks in a Sichuan village school. As I type this, Fabien and I are on the way to Hardelot to stay in his grandparents beach appartment. We are really so lucky, and Fab and I would like to seriously think about doing something positive for people less fortunate than we are.

Daphne's email extract:

China is a gigantic country under dramatic changes of different kinds. When thinking about China, people most likely come up with its new modern fa├žade and rapid economic growth first. At the same time, we all know that its development is unbalanced and full of contradictions. In its western inland, poverty still prevails. In addition to poverty, Dayingpan has another problem that cast dark shadow over its people: it is known as a leprosy village. Leprosy is a disease that easily arouses fear. It is contagious (though in fact, very difficultly), and patients with leprosy sometimes have dreadful appearance with deformed limbs. To control its spread, the Chinese government relocated some patients to remote areas for isolation decades ago. To date, there are some hundreds of leprosy villages in rural China. Those patients managed to survive with minimal resources and form families. However, their children and grandchildren, albeit born healthy and normal, usually have no legal registration and identity. They are a group of people forgotten by society and encaged by the cruelty of destiny.

Dayingpan village needed a primary school of its own. Until a few years ago, it was only two shabby classrooms, and pupils could go only as far as the third grade. Then, "Wings of Hope", a Taiwanese charity organization, came, bringing along capitals, expertise and care. Dayingpan Primary School gained a brand new look and vitality. My sister started working in "Wings of Hope" in February this year. It was from her that I learned about the whole thing.

I was assigned with various tasks: teaching English to kids at 3-5 grades, some basic genetics, and some knowledge about Europe. After two weeks at Dayingpan Primary School, the result was, I had a lot of fun with the kids and all the volunteers, and I wasn't bitten by the flea at all! The kids were really adorable. They love to learn, to sing, and to get in contact with us all. Dayingpan was the least developed area I've visited so far, but their kids were by far the most happy ones. In addition to school work, they all have a lot of house chores to do: taking care of the younger ones in the family, pigs, cattle and farms.

Now I've been back to Norway for one week, there are still numerous images and details from Dayingpan in my mind, lingering. I don't know if you believe in karma and previous lives, but you might at some point have uestioned yourself, "Why are we luckier than so many other people in this world? What have we done to deserve all this?" In a place like Dayingpan I witnessed, some things we take for granted are other people's dream, even something as fundamental as an ID card. I think we should all cherish what we have and be humble.

When we were about to leave, everybody was sad. At the dawn of 5 a.m., our bus drove away on the snaky mountain road. Joyfully, I realized, as a volunteer at Dayingpan, I gained more than I gave.

Here you can find some pictures of me in Dayingpan: link

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My father does not know how to do this -- YET