Imagine for a minute — it’s the dead of winter. Suddenly the hot water and your shower at home both stop working. How long would you be able to make it?
That scenario is still the daily reality for school children all over rural China, including those in tiny Luoyan township — a small and unknown corner of China’s rural and remote southwest region.
In Luoyan township, there are nine primary schools, and many of the students attending these schools are boarding students. They live in dormitories on the school campus during the week because their families live too far away to be able to conveniently travel back and forth to school every morning and evening.
Thanks to your generous support of CWEF’s HEAL program, two of these schools — Tianjing Primary School and Gonghe Primary School — have became the first in the township to be able to offer warm showers to their students!
In October 2022, the transformation of current facilities at the two schools into freshly renovated solar-heated shower rooms was completed, and our CWEF team members, along with local nonprofit, government, and school leaders, visited the Tianjing and Gonghe schools to conduct the official inspection and final acceptance of the project.
Prior to HEAL being launched at these two schools in 2022, none of the primary schools in Luoyan county had shower rooms or proper bathing facilities for the boarding students to use in order to keep clean and healthy while living and studying at school.
In addition to solar-heated shower rooms, your generous donations to the HEAL program also made it possible for both schools to receive much-needed upgrades to their dilapidated toilets and aging sewage systems, as well as 16 drinking water filter units to further ensure good health, sanitation, and hygiene for the students.
The HEAL program — which stands for “Health Education, Advocacy & Literacy” — is not just about buildings and health-related infrastructure like water filters, shower rooms, and sanitary toilets.
In conjunction with these upgrades to infrastructure, the CWEF team and our local partners also made important investments in the schools’ students and teachers themselves through the training of local health advocates and organizing health promotion activities.
In November 2022, a health education program was initiated with 426 students and 31 teachers at Tianjing and Gonghe schools. Training sessions, demonstrations, and fun competitions were held to encourage healthy habits like washing hands, washing faces, brushing teeth, and keeping their school and dormitory environment clean and tidy.
In addition, earlier in the year CWEF and our local partners brought in an experienced facilitator to guide 22 teachers from the two schools through a one-day mental health education workshop. The purpose of this course was to help the teachers understand and strengthen their own mental health, to learn to better understand the inner worlds of their young students, and to train the teachers in simple but effective ways to provide guidance and counseling to their students who may be struggling with poor mental health or challenges at home.
In 2022, your generous support of the HEAL program empowered our CWEF team and local partners to make important upgrades in the health-related infrastructure and external environment at Tianjing and Gonghe schools.
More importantly, your partnership has made valuable investments in the long-term physical, mental, and emotional health of the students who live and learn there.
With your help, 2023 will be a healthier and happier year for these special young people who are working hard to build a better future for themselves and their communities.
p.s. — If you’d like to see an overview of all of CWEF’s work in rural China and Cambodia during 2022, you can watch this 3-minute video. Thank you for helping to make all of this good work possible!
This article was written by Joshua Lange – CWEF Executive Director.
Discover other rural Yunnan health initiatives that your giving makes possible here.