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Healthy & Happy & Ready for 2023!

Healthy and Happy in 2023

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!

Inspecting new solar-heated shower rooms

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.

Evaluation survey before health training

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.

Preparing for health training at Tianjing school
Health training at Gonghe Primary School

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.

Jenny of CWEF with local partners

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.

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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.

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weifang chinese high school scholarship recipient

Paying It Forward

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. The scholarship support, made possible by generous supporters like you, relieved a financial burden to her family.

“I’m grateful for the financial aid from CWEF and the professional guidance I received. 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.

“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.”

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

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 young people like Weifang to focus on their studies, complete high school, learn valuable life skills, and form deep bonds with a supportive community!

Each of these has been 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.

Get more exciting updates of your day-to-day impact through CWEF. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook!

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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.

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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. 

 

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Your Gifts Power Holistic Health Education

Addressing the health and sanitation needs of rural communities requires a multi-faceted approach. CWEF’s HEAL project addresses the challenge in a holistic manner — improving both the physical facilities as well as much-needed health education to empower people to prevent illness. In rural China, 24% of people still live without access to basic sanitation facilities, and 12% live without access to a reliable source of clean drinking water.

Improving infrastructure

The Heshangzuang Primary School shared water pipes from a central cistern with homes in the village. During the dry season, the water supply was insufficient. In the rainy season, the water became opaque and cloudy with sediment. CWEF’s Heath Director Jenny Chu shares, “During the school period, the normal water consumption of teachers and students was directly affected. In the period of water shortage, the water storage capacity was only enough to meet the needs of the canteen, and the daily water consumption of students and teachers for washing and toilet use was greatly affected.”

During the current Phase 1 of the HEAL project at Heshangzuang Primary School, infrastructure needs were addressed this summer. During July and August 2020, CWEF partnered with local nonprofit Zhengxin Social Work Service Center to create a separate system, made up of a of 30-cubic-meter cistern and new pipes, to provide a dedicated source of clean and reliable water for the school. Jenny Chu reports that the problem has been solved for the school and it will “ensure normal health for more than 70 students and teachers, thus laying the foundation for CWEF’s health education project for students, planned to begin in 2021.”

Creating new materials for health education

CWEF works in partnership with local government agencies and supporting partners including, schools and local non-profit organizations. Students from an international school in Shanghai recently volunteered to create new educational materials to address the need to educate about the novel coronavirus. Jenny Chu shares, “From July to August 2020, Roger Tu, a long-time friend of CWEF, recruited students to design activities and picture books related to health projects through the ‘CWEF health books’ project. Through the volunteer efforts of Zoe and Hui, we have completed the design of children’s mental health awareness and new coronavirus prevention picture books.” These activity books help primary school students gain new knowledge and have fun in a creative way.

This combination of improved facilities, awareness, and habits results in a stronger and healthier community over the long-term. CWEF works with rural communities and schools through the HEAL (“Health Education, Advocacy & Literacy”) program, which tackles both the need for proper health-related facilities and the knowledge and behavior change needed for healthy living.


THANK YOU!


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Protection for Today, Health for Tomorrow

In May 2020, student health advocates at Zengyi primary school in Yunnan province received training in specific health knowledge and behaviors, which they have committed to pass on to their peers and to model in their daily life.


Guimei, a 10-year-old student at Zengyi, was selected to be a student health advocate because of her personal discipline, confidence, and natural leadership qualities. She and her family are from the Miao ethnic minority group, and because her home is far away Guimei lives at the school during the week. At home, her family does not have access to sanitary toilets or bathing facilities, so Guimei bathes during the week when she boards at school. It was also at school that Guimei learned crucial health and hygiene lessons through CWEF’s HEAL program.



“I learned to wash my hands frequently, wear masks, have good hygiene, and not eat junk food,” shares Guimei. “If you don’t wash your hands, you will get sick easily. If you don’t brush your teeth, you will get cavities, which will affect your appearance.”

When Guimei returned home on the weekends, she advocated for healthy habits with her parents and grandparents.

“I shared my knowledge of handwashing with my mom and dad, and grandparents. Apart from Grandma, they all think it’s very good. Grandma thinks it’s troublesome and doesn’t like this way of washing hands.”  

In addition to these topics, Guimei and other student health advocates learned how viruses are transmitted, how to avoid and treat diarrhea, and how to avoid accidental injuries such as scalding. Health advocate and trainer Ms. Cao shares, “The HEAL project is designed for the basic needs of the rural population. The personal hygiene habits of rural community and primary school students, as well as the basic conditions for maintaining these habits, are still lacking. The project starts from improving people’s awareness and solving the problems of water, hand washing, bathing, and other essential facilities, which complement each other.” 

These teachings have been foundational to additional education in the current season about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The HEAL training included instructions for proper mask wearing and prevention of this new infectious disease. Guimei shares,  

“I hope the coronavirus will end soon, so everyone can return to school. Studying at home is lonely. I feel sad when I cannot learn more knowledge.” 

Guimei’s principal, Mr. Hua, reflected, “The health project is very good, especially for improving the students’ basic health habits. There are more and more students who wash their hands with soap and hand sanitizer. During the dry season, there is a shortage of water in the reservoir. I hope that we can also solve the problem of water shortage.”  



Beyond the current health crisis, Ms. Cao affirms the HEAL program’s value over the long-term for people in rural China: “Good personal hygiene habits and behaviors are the basis for maintaining health, and should continue to be the focus. Chronic disease has been a major health problem in China, and the root of chronic disease can be traced back to childhood.”  

With their new knowledge and the formation of healthy habits, students like Guimei have a better chance for a healthy future in which they can thrive. About her own future, Guimei shared:              

“I want to be a model when I grow up. I like singing and dancing very much!”


Support Student Leaders Like Guimei:

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