HEAL

weifang chinese high school scholarship recipient

Paying It Forward

Meet an Inspiring Young Woman Named Weifang

As a young adult, Weifang is living out the value of “local people serving local people.” She has donated much of her time in recent years to serve others.

“In my spare time, I help the community as a volunteer in the local area, especially through anti-epidemic work…. Social stability is everyone’s responsibility. I am one of them, too!”

What Scholarships Make Possible

When she was younger, Weifang was an academically strong student and received a scholarship from CWEF in 2011 until 2014, when she graduated from high school. “I’m grateful for the financial aid from CWEF and the professional guidance I received.” The scholarship relieved a financial burden to her family. “It reduced my personal psychological pressure, and I could devote myself to studying with more piece of mind.”

During her high school years, Weifang and other scholarship recipients received resiliency lessons and social/emotional encouragement. These lessons and activities provide additional support to scholarship students. Weifang remembers them fondly:

“I felt hope for the future, love and hard work for my life and study, and I grew self-confidence. I also gained a group of friends who I have maintained deep friendships with to this day.”

Weifang performed well in high school, going on to Guangdong Technical Teachers College to major in accounting. Once she graduated in 2018 she went on to be an accountant before ultimately shifting to be a math teacher in 2021.

She notes that the scholarship program and additional support lessons have had a long-term positive impact in her life:

“I was able to grow and maintain a healthy mental state to face problems I encounter in life and work.”

Choosing to Serve Others

Weifang joined a group of volunteers, comprised of other CWEF high school scholarship program graduates, in a domestic non-profit called Shining Star. As a volunteer, Weifang began teaching left-behind children through Shining Star’s GROW program.

Supporting left-behind children with Shining Star
With Shining Star volunteer teammates

“When I became a teacher of the GROW program (leading resiliency activities and lessons), I liked the feeling of teaching and learning. It’s destiny! I am now in the education profession.”

Inspiring Future Leaders

Sometimes life comes full circle in more ways than one. This former scholarship recipient and accountant is now paying it forward as a teacher. Being a part of Shining Star’s community has introduced Weifang to her love of teaching, as she is now a math teacher.

During 2022’s Spring Festival, Weifang asked some children what they thought of the volunteer work she was involved with, and if they wanted to do it as well when they were older.

Weifang has been doing a great job of paying it forward, because they all said “Yes!”

Your generous giving to the CWEF scholarship fund made it possible for Weifang, and young people like her, to focus on her studies, complete high school, learn valuable coping skills, and form deep bonds with a supportive community! Each of these is a key component in her ultimate success. And more than that, your sacrificial giving empowered and equipped Weifang so that she can pour into and inspire other future leaders. Thank you for stepping up to help transform the lives of young students in China!

This article was written by Elena Semler, CWEF volunteer.

Meet more inspiring Chinese scholarship recipients! Read Lijuan’s story of transformation here.

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women drinks clean water from her home in ratanakiri, cambodia

What Difference Does a BioSand Water Filter Make?

What difference does a BioSand Water Filter make?

 In the tropical country of Cambodia an estimated 2-3 million people get their daily drinking water from unsafe water sources. Rural communities gather water from rainfall, wells, rivers, or standing water. The Cambodian government has set an ambitious goal for 100% of the population to have access to safe drinking water by 2025.

If properly installed and maintained, a BioSand water filter can last up to 25 years! This slow drip system removes 100% of waterborne worms and eggs. Surface water is cleaned in the low-tech device and is easily accessed directly from the filter. When a filter is installed at home, families can conveniently treat water at home to protect against disease.

Playing games with local kids in Ratanakiri

What difference do CWEF’s local partners make?

Pastor John is a farmer and serves a local congregation in his hometown in Ratanakiri province. As a local partner of CWEF, he provides important health training to families in his area who receive gifts of BioSand Water Filters, because of your generous giving.

When a family receives a water filter, they immediately experience many health benefits. Furthermore, local partners like Pastor John also train families in how to properly maintain their water filter, and lessons in sanitation and hygiene practices give families additional tools for preventing disease and improving their overall health.

In 2022 and 2023, CWEF will provide clean and safe drinking water via BioSand Water Filters for over 100 families in two rural communities in Ratanakiri province. The partnership with local Christian pastors like Pastor John, together with their congregation members in the Deh and Chang villages, will make your gift of safe drinking water more powerful and sustainable for the long-term.

You can see Biosand Water Filter #39 in Ratanakiri province by watching this video.

CWEF’s Kanhchana leads a health lesson with kids

What difference are you making by supporting CWEF BioSand Water Filters in Cambodia?

Globally, diarrhea is one of the leading causes of death in children under five years of age. Water-borne illnesses are preventable with the use of proper water treatment, such as the BioSand Water Filters you are supporting in Cambodia. Access to clean water, coupled with handwashing and other healthy hygiene habits, can bring a life-changing renewal of health to whole families. In particular, more children and their families in Deh and Chang villages in Ratanakiri will enjoy full health without the threat of malnutrition, dehydration, or death from diarrhea.

This past October, CWEF highlighted the importance of WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene), in connection with Global Handwashing Day on October 15.

Don’t forget — the next time you wash your hands or drink from an indoor faucet, you also can remember the gift of health that you have provided to families in rural Cambodia. Because of your generosity, they too can enjoy the immense gift of drinking water at home, and the improved health it brings.

Thank you for your partnership!

This article was written by Karin Semler, CWEF Board Member

In Focus

Blurry.

That’s what some of the schoolchildren in rural Yunnan see every day. Blurry teachers. Blurry math equations. Blurry characters. If all a child knows is a blurry world, then she might not know it’s possible to see more clearly. Or that simply having clearer vision could make school so much easier!

Because of you and your generosity, 47 primary school students at two different schools in rural Yunnan, China, underwent vision screening this summer. And 27 of those students received a pair of eyeglasses for free! Those conducting the eye screening discovered several children with eye diseases and referred them to local hospitals for follow up care.    

Along with the screening, students also discussed this question: How do you love and protect your eyes? Volunteer teachers taught students and their parents to spend less time on electronic devices and more time playing outdoors. They also learned exercises for their eyes including habitually alternating between looking at objects that are nearby and objects that are far away. In addition, students learned the importance of wearing eyeglasses regularly if they have vision problems. 

Thank you for giving a brighter clearer world to these youngest of students! Now able to see the world in focus, they have the opportunity to excel in all their pursuits more than ever before!

Your generosity not only supports eye screening and education for these precious students, but your gifts also support all CWEF’s HEAL (Health Education and Literacy) initiatives for children in rural China. Through HEAL your donations empower local people to create solutions for local health problems that particularly matter to them. Thank you for your generosity and support! 

*What other community health initiatives are CWEF and its local partners undertaking in China? Read Xingqi’s story here!

*In order to continue partnering with rural Chinese communities through health screenings and health education, we need your support! The donations we receive in one year are used for the next year’s initiatives, and we are currently fundraising. Will you consider increasing your giving and/or becoming a CWEF monthly donor for the first time today?

*This article was written by April Chiasson, Communications Manager with field data gathered and reported by Jenny Chu, Senior Program Director in Yunnan. This article was translated into Mandarin by Qian Qian Long, Mandarin Translation Volunteer.

Clan John with family members

Down an Impassable Road

John, a farmer from a remote mountain village in Cambodia, along with his wife and children always drank from the village well. Many times a year they would all fall ill with stomach aches and diarrhea as well as frequently experience other health complications like lower back pain and eye problems.

John filling up on clean water from the biosand water filter!

John is descended from an ancient Cambodian ethnic group. Because he lives in the remote mountains, it is very difficult to travel outside of his own village. John attended school until fifth grade and can speak two languages: Khmer and Jarai. In 1998 during the Pol Pot regime, he married his wife in Vietnam near the Khmer border. They had six children together; but sadly, in 2001, one of their daughters died from leukemia.

Now John owns 10 hectares of land where he works hard morning until evening six days a week with his wife to farm cassava and cashews. Despite all of their faithful hard work, for a long time John and his wife could not afford enough food or medical care for their family.

In 2010, a CWEF team – together with a partner organization – visited John’s village. They shared the gospel with John and his family and also taught them how to eat healthy, how to wash their hands with proper technique, and how to boil water in order to make it safe for drinking. After CWEF’s first visit, John began to serve his local church, study the Bible outside of his village, and share the gospel with other people in his own community. Because he speaks both languages, John also assists with translating the Bible from the Khmer language into the Jarai language so that people in his community can better understand God’s Word.

In 2014, a few years after CWEF’s first visit, John requested a biosand water filter from CWEF. Unfortunately, the materials for the filter could not be transported over the terrible village roads. But recently with improved roads, CWEF was finally able to fulfill John’s request and delivered thirty biosand water filters to John’s community! In 2023, with your generous support, we plan to provide clean and safe drinking water via biosand water filters to many more in John’s community and the surrounding area.

John with his children and a few nieces/nephews.

Today John says:

“My community is so blessed by God through receiving Biosand Filters from the CWEF organization. Now we do not spend a lot of time boiling drinking water, and we feel comfortable after we get safe drinking water at home. Thank you CWEF for continuing to work in my community and encouraging us so much in the name of God.”

John and his wife have also now achieved better production on their farm and are able to provide enough food and medical care for their family.

Thank you for your generous support of the HEAL (Health Education, Advocacy, and Literacy) program, facilitate by CWEF! You make it possible for families like John’s to not only hear about the goodness and generosity of God, but also to experience it through clean water, health education, and improved sanitation. Your generosity is transforming lives!

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Want to help more families like John’s? Join the CWEF Community and become a monthly donor today!

This story was written by Kanhchana, CWEF Director of Cambodia, and edited by April Chiasson, CWEF Communications Manager. This story was translated into Mandarin by Qian Qian, CWEF Volunteer.

She’s Transforming Her Village

Xingqi is a nineteen year old woman from a village in Yunnan belonging to the Miao ethnic minority group. When CWEF’s team first came to Xingqi’s village, they discovered many hazardous health conditions there. For example, farm animals lived inside the same houses with people. Livestock manure lay on the floor inside homes and throughout the village. Many families dumped trash behind their houses, and the trash continued to pile higher and higher. 

Xingqi’s village has 23 households that all belong to the Miao minority ethnic group. There are over nine million Miao people in China today, and traditionally, the Miao are known for their elaborate embroidery and silver jewelry. 

In 2015, CWEF began a clean water project for village residents. After establishing basic facilities for clean water, several villagers volunteered to participate in a program called HEAL (“Health Education, Advocacy, and Literacy”). Through this process, a core group of residents were trained to become health advocates for their own communities. 

Xingqi with the other residents from her village that volunteered to train as community health advocates

In Xingqi’s village, CWEF first implemented a strategy called Training of Trainers (TOT) where previously-trained health advocates from nearby Miao villages trained the Miao in Xingqi’s village. This process reinforces learning for the recently-trained health advocates. Also, when local people train their neighbors, they speak in their native language and share their culture which makes the health training more effective.  

And who showed up to the HEAL training? Xingqi, who was just starting middle school, and her mother. While Xingqi and her mother seemed nervous at first, the CWEF team also immediately recognized that these two women possessed outstanding communication and leadership abilities, and both women quickly mastered the new health knowledge and skills. 

Xingqi participating in HEAL (Health Advocacy and Literacy) training

Through health trainings, Xingqi learned about many topics such as: the safe use of pesticides, the hazards of abusing alcohol, how to treat children’s fever and much much more. As a core health advocate in her village, Xingqi came up with creative methods for promoting health education in her community, including using sketch performances with self-made props!  

Xingqi organizing a health promotion skit

CWEF taught procedures for maintaining environmental hygiene which explained that poultry should be kept in captivity to prevent zoonotic diseases, that livestock and people should live separately, and that garbage should be allocated to one communal place. 

An aerial view of part of Xingqi’s village

Xingqi said that the environmental sanitation and health conditions have changed significantly in her village. Now, one quarter of the community dumps their trash in a designated communal pit. And when you go out, it is rare to see livestock manure. All in all, Xingqi and her village enjoy a much cleaner and healthier living environment!  

Xingqi dressed up in traditional Miao clothing for a special occasion.

Thank you for your generosity and for making it possible for people like Xingqi to have opportunities to grow and thrive through life-changing health education and community advocacy!

This article was written by Jenny, Senior Program Director in Yunnan; translated from Mandarin into English by Qian Qian, Volunteer; and edited by both Joshua Lange, Executive Director, and April Chiasson, Communications Manager. 

 

No More Night

Hel, a Cambodian man from a rural village, used to run with a disreputable crowd. Back then, he worked mostly in secret under the cover of night.

But all that changed in 2014 when he attended a HEAL (“Health Education, Advocacy & Literacy”) training session facilitated by Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation.

When Hel was growing up, the school near his home only offered classes through sixth grade. Because of this, he never had the opportunity to attend high school.

But the new information he suddenly learned about health and sanitation through the HEAL training felt exciting to him. He believed the new information was vital for the future welfare of his village, and it completely changed his perspective on life. He soon decided to earn his living in a completely different way and began working for local NGO’s toiling to improve his own community and increase the level of child literacy.

After several years of steady service for his community, Hel is now 38 years old and serves his village as the Sunday pastor. No longer wanting to conceal his activities under cover of night, he now farms cassava during the day to support his wife and three children.

It’s amazing to see how one educational opportunity can transform the trajectory of someone’s life for the better!

We’re thankful for Hel, his heart for service, and all that he’s doing to empower his own village community in Cambodia. And we’re thankful for you and your generous gifts to the HEAL program!

HEAL participants develop awareness and receive training to serve as health advocates in their own communities. The HEAL program also provides needed community infrastructure, such as water filters and water wells, along with hygiene education for the whole community.

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Help change more lives like Hel’s by donating to CWEF programs here.

This story was written by Kanhchana, Director of CWEF Cambodia, with support from April Chiasson, Communications Manager.

Windows of the Soul and Door to a Bright Future

It is often said that “eyes are the windows of the soul.” Not only that; they are also a gateway for education and deeper understanding. 

During late November and December 2021, to serve students at Heshangzhuang and Zengyi Primary Schools in Yunnan province, CWEF partnered with staff from the local nonprofits Education in Sight and the Zhengxin Social Work Service Center in Wuding county to provide vision screening and to teach children about the importance of eye care.

The eye care activities for 134 students at these two primary schools in Wuding County are just one small piece of a broader, comprehensive program the schools have partnered with CWEF to facilitate, which is called HEAL (“Health Education, Advocacy & Literacy”).

HEAL addresses the need for proper health-related equipment and resources, along with the deeper knowledge and behavior change needed for students to lead a full, healthy life.

Eye health is a key – and sometimes missing – piece, as one student noted:

“It was the first time we tested our eyesight, and we realized that eyes are so important. The world is blurry if you don’t see well. If you are nearsighted, you should wear glasses with the correct prescription. We should develop good habits and do eye exercises carefully.”

Eye screening with Mr. Yin of Education in Sight

Mr. Yin, the trainer from Education in Sight, reflected:

“The students were very curious to learn that the proportion of myopia among rural children is much lower than their peers in the cities.”

The recent global increase in myopia (or nearsightedness)is attributed to the increased use of electronics and screen time in young children. In addition to the training, books about proper eye care were given to the students, and all the students were screened for myopia.

Myopia can be most easily corrected by eyeglasses. Of the students tested, around 7% were found to have myopia. Most of these students were given free glasses available directly from Education in Sight, and the others were advised to go to the hospital for further screening.

Understanding proper eye care methods and providing glasses is important because without this intervention, more children are vulnerable to developing myopia or other eye issues. Working to prevent and treat eye issues like myopia can help the students in their general health and school education. The teachers at the Heshangzhuang and Zengyi schools reported that the screenings and health education activities were very meaningful, and will further give them the opportunity to follow up with ongoing health education related to eye care and their students’ overall health.

CWEF, together with our local partners, would not be able to facilitate the HEAL program or provide this free eye health education, eye tests, or glasses for these students from underserved communities without generous supporters like you.

Thank you for your generous donations. You are making a clear difference in these children’s lives and giving them the chance to see a bright future.

No Longer “Underwater” (Thanks to Clean Water)

Maiy was stressed and worried. His family was “underwater.”

As a new husband to his wife Chantou and adoptive father to her two sons, Maiy was feeling the weight of the family’s debt. They had taken out a microfinance loan to buy equipment for their family’s small farming operation, but now Maiy couldn’t even stay healthy enough to keep working every day in the fields in order to pay down the debt.

He and the rest of the family would frequently fall ill with diarrhea and painful stomach aches. At the time, they didn’t know the cause of their sickness: their daily habit of drinking the rainwater that they collected at their home in rural Tboung Khmum province, Cambodia.

With their frequent waterborne illness, the family’s medical expenses piled on top of their other daily expenses, which piled on top of their debt. Maiy couldn’t see a way out.

Then, through a connection with their local Christan church, Maiy and Chantou learned about a BioSand Water Filter project in their community, made possible by your generous gifts to CWEF.

They learned more about the water filters from their pastor, and they attended a training session where they learned about the dangers of drinking unsafe water, as well as different ways they could protect themselves and their kids.

Maiy and Chantou participate in HEAL training

Finally, they received the gift of a BioSand Water Filter in 2021. Since then, they have had the great blessing of drinking clean and safe water every day.

Maiy recently shared:

“Now, I feel relaxed and happy after getting our Biosand Water Filter from CWEF. We can filter either rainwater or well water for our family’s daily drinking needs. I also regularly bottle the water from the filter and take it with me to the fields when I go out to work.”

Maiy, Chantou, and their boys don’t get sick as often as they did before, and now Maiy has plenty of time and energy to do his farming work each day. He estimates that they will have the microfinance loan debt paid off in just 7 more months.

As a committed Christian and a member of their local church, Maiy and Chantou have also been led to participate as trained local advocates in the broader community health and development program called HEAL (“Health Education, Advocacy & Literacy”), which is sponsored by CWEF and facilitated in partnership with the local pastor, Sareun, and his wife, Ly. The team of HEAL advocates in their community have participated in a series of in-depth training sessions, and are committed to being agents of positive change in their area.  

Maiy and his family now want to do what they can to bless and serve others in their community, as they themselves have been blessed through the local church, in partnership with CWEF.

Maiy closed our conversation with this simple and selfless note of gratitude and hope:

“My family members all got healthier now, and I hope to see that God will use my family in the future to share the Gospel with others.”

HEALTHY BODIES, HEALTHY MINDS, HEALTHY PLANET

Students at Anla and Heshangzhuang Primary School in rural Yunnan province ended the previous school year and started the new school year strong and healthy. Students at both schools participated in TOT (“Training of Trainers”) activities as part of the ongoing HEAL (“Health Education, Advocacy & Literacy”) program facilitated by the CWEF team and our local partners. These student health advocates will go on to serve others in their families and school communities by sharing the knowledge and healthy habits they have learned through this series of HEAL training activities over the span of 1-2 years.    

Before their schools broke for the holiday, in June 2021 students at Anla and Heshangzhuang learned knowledge and practiced healthy behaviors related to personal hygiene, COVID-19 prevention, healthy diet, eye care, disaster preparedness, and basic first aid training.

These HEAL Training of Trainer sessions were delivered as a collaborative effort — trainers from CWEF along with several partner organizations, including eye care and vision-focused non-profit Education in Sight, Zhengxin Social Work Service Center of Wuding county, and the Yunnan Mountain Eagle Rescue Service Center. Working in concert, our organizations can achieve more, and the training we provide to the students is more effective and has a stronger impact. 

Of equal importance is the varied mode of training that is used during these sessions. Our trainers use games, songs, videos, demonstrations, simulations, and other practical exercises to engage different parts of the students’ bodies, brains, and emotions, so that the knowledge and habits learned will have a better chance of sticking with them, and later, spreading to others in their community.

Jenny Chu of CWEF shares: 

“This way of combining theory with practice makes students learn more intuitively. We are helping them to enhance their awareness first, and then to support their knowledge with action.”

Most recently, in September 2021, students at Heshangzhuang Primary School participated in the third session of their HEAL student health advocate training. After learning to take care of their own health and that of their family and friends, they were introduced to the concept of caring for the health of the planet. The training facilitators framed this sometimes complex topic in more simple terms that connected students back to health concerns they are familiar with:

“The Earth has a fever. How can we help the Earth to be healthy?”

Planting The Seeds of a Dream

CWEF’s vision is a world of “thriving communities, serving and inspiring hope in others.”

This is not a “one and done” type of goal—change takes time and real sustainable change happens in the lives of individuals and the communities they serve and inspire. Sixteen-year-old Jianfang is a living example of the impact of becoming a student Health Advocate through the HEAL program.

In 2016, CWEF facilitated a holistic health project in Xishipo, Jianfang’s home village in Lufeng county, Yunnan province. CWEF partners helped to support the construction of various clean water and health-related infrastructure in the village, including a 30 cubic meter water cistern, pumping stations, solar-heated shower rooms, hand-washing stations, garbage repositories, and drinking water pipelines to each household. A hallmark of the HEAL (Health Education, Advocacy & Literacy) project is providing health education and hygiene training (the “software”) for adults and youth, alongside the new infrastructure (the “hardware”).

Jianfang, who is from the Miao minority group, was then 11 years old when the HEAL project was initiated. Jenny Chu, CWEF’s Senior Programs Director in Yunnan, shares about the 2016 training:

“This was the first time for CWEF to use the local language, instead of Mandarin, for the health training. Using the Miao language not only solved the difficulty of knowledge transfer due to language barriers but it also helped to better encourage feelings of solidarity among the participating villagers.”

The health training took place in two phases. The first focused on personal hygiene, environmental hygiene, and nutrition. The second phase of training included information to prevent common diseases, use of medicines, training for safe pesticide use, women’s health care, accident prevention, and substance abuse awareness. Jianfang was in the third year of middle school when she first learned the new information and became a Health Advocate committed to share her new learning with her peers.

Today, Jianfang is in high school and is learning English (by way of an app), together with her intense schedule of daily school work and regular preparation for the looming university entrance exam. The training she received as a HEAL health advocate five years earlier has played a significant role in her life. She shared that the HEAL training planted the seed of a dream. “When I was in primary school, I didn’t know what kind of person I would become in the future. I didn’t have ideas about a future career.”

During the training Jianfang participated in role play presentations for different health promotion activities. “I chose the theme of ‘prevention and treatment of a cold’ and played the role of a doctor. Through this role play I understood the significance of relieving the pain of others.”

Soon after, Jianfang experienced real-life struggles in her family when her sister needed the care of a doctor.

“It takes a lot of time to wait in line to see a doctor, and the result is not always satisfactory,” Jianfang recalls. “At that time, I deeply felt that if I were a doctor, this kind of trouble could be reduced and my family could possibly avoid going to the hospital when they were sick, saving a lot of trouble.”

She also noted the impact of COVID-19: “The whole world is in panic and isolation. When we see the medical staff who stay on the front lines fighting against the virus without sleep or lunch breaks, we are moved.” Now, Jianfang is all the more determined to become a doctor.

Jianfang is inspired to become an “international rescue doctor,” so that she can go to “more difficult places to help those who are really in need.”

Because of your generous giving, young Health Advocates like Jianfang learn life-changing health practices and mindsets. In her case, health education planted a seed and opened her eyes to see how she could make a difference both as a youth Health Advocate but also one day as a doctor.

The vision of “thriving communities, serving and inspiring hope in others” has a name and face: Jianfang from Xishipo village.

by Jenny Chu (Yunnan Senior Program Director) & Karin Semler (CWEF Board Secretary)

Partner with Community Health Advocates Like Jianfang

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