Empowerment

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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Life in the Big City

Bun Leang is a bright young man who believed his God-given potential could only be achieved by furthering his education at university. But how could he attend when his family stood deep in medical debt?

Bun Leang grew up in the countryside of western Cambodia in a Christian family. His father worked faithfully for many years as a construction worker to support his wife and six children. But eventually, as his body grew slower and weaker with old age, he could no longer continue this physically intensive labor. Some time later, Bun Leang’s mother also accidentally fell. The fall broke her hip. She needed surgery, but the doctor refused to operate because she had diabetes. Caring for their mother by providing necessary medical care drove Bun Leang’s family deep into financial debt.

Bun Leang participating in worship team!

During this time of Bun Leang’s childhood and adolescence, Bun Leang enjoyed playing music. He performed musically and shared the gospel in surrounding villages. When Bun Leang was nearing university age, CWEF heard about both his academic potential and the financial hardships his family faces. So CWEF donors like you came together and awarded Bun Leang an academic scholarship, making it possible for him to attend university. 

Bun Leang embraced the opportunity by first pursuing an associate degree in his hometown. Later he took an even bigger leap and transferred to a university in Phnom Penh, far away from his family and everything familiar, to study engineering. Bun Leang studied hard. During his classes, he most enjoyed listening to professors who shared stories from their on-the-job engineering experiences.

One of the schools Bun Leang attended

But Bun Leang also struggled to adjust to life in the big city. He felt lonely. All his family and friends lived back in his hometown, and he knew no one else in Phnom Penh. Once, he even regretted coming to the big city and wished he had stayed in his hometown. Also, he felt very stressed. He knew that his family needed more money to pay for his mother’s medical debts, but he didn’t have a job and couldn’t help.

Bun Leang working with his technical team
Visiting a work site

Later on, while still in school, he did successfully find a job as part of a technical team. Bun Leang explains, “(At first), I didn’t understand a single word of the technical English terms used on engineering sites, but that is a good starting point for me to work harder. It took me two years and a lot of effort to learn how to be skilled at my job, but now I’ve been working for three years and am the Senior Technical Project Manager.” 

Bun Leang on his last day of engineering school!

This year Bun Leang will graduate with a degree in engineering! He says,  

“…if I continued to live in my hometown without furthering my studies, I really can’t imagine what my life would be like. But now I have a job, and I dream that I can support myself and give back to my family.”

Throughout this year, Bun Leang has described his life as a blessing, and CWEF has been a big part of that: providing support and encouragement. Bun Leang says: “CWEF has provided support such as: school fees, some living costs before I was strong enough to seek a job, housing fees, and another extra course…CWEF takes good care of me… I am so grateful for your support.”

Bun Leang surely will not stop here. He has more goals he wants to achieve in the coming years. He shares, 

“Education has played a big role in transforming my life. First, I’ve become knowledgeable, and it opens my vision to see the next plan for what I want to achieve more, for example, in 5 years or 10 years.” 

Eating a meal with family!

Bun Leang is so grateful to God for blessing him in every way, and he is thankful to everyone at CWEF for providing him with a scholarship and a chance to pursue higher education! Through this opportunity, he was able to make his dream come true, and now he looks forward to pouring into his church and community in the future!

Want to help more students like Bun Leang fulfill their potential? Donate here!

Meet more students like Bun Leang and read their stories here.

This report was written by Panhary, Education Program Coordinator in Cambodia; translated from English into Mandarin by Qian Qian, CWEF volunteer; and edited in English by April Chiasson, CWEF Communications Manager.

Lijuan

Dare to Try

Hello everyone! My name is Lijuan, I am from Guangdong province, China.  When I was young, my father, the only breadwinner in my family, fell ill and was unable to financially support my education. And so first of all, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to my teachers and all the caring people of Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation for helping me in my most difficult time and for choosing me among so many people to receive financial support. 

In addition to that, the summer and winter camps held by CWEF & Shining Star every year made me and the other students feel happy and cared for and exposed us to new things and new friends. I have become a more cheerful and confident person because of this organization.  

Looking back on these ten years of schooling, I am very happy that I was able to receive a higher education with the help of many kind people. Growing up in such a difficult family, I knew that only studying could change my fate; so I studied diligently from elementary school through high school. I have been asked many times by other parents, “Do you have any tricks to study? How come you study so well?” I would usually laugh and think, “I don’t have any tricks. It’s just that I have no one behind me, so I have to work hard.”  

The moment I received my university acceptance letter, I was both happy and frustrated. Happy that my hard work for more than ten years had finally paid off, and I could change my destiny; frustrated that my debt-ridden family could not support my college expenses.  Thanks to the good policies of the Party and the Country, and thanks to the kind-hearted organizations like CWEF, I was able to fulfill my dream of going to college!  

I entered the university knowing that the opportunity to go to university is not easy to come by, and I kept telling myself that I should cherish it twice and that studying should be the first priority. So I studied hard and ranked in the top 20% overall, while also pursuing a minor in administration over the weekends.  

Every year I have worked hard to get scholarships, some of which were supplied by Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation, and these scholarships have largely relieved me of my worries. By using the scholarship funds I received only for my studies and real needs and by not comparing my food and clothes to those of other students, I relieved my family of some financial burden.  

As a college elective, I decided to try a new challenge: tennis. When I began, the coach thought I was short and had no advantage in playing tennis. So I just followed the other players and taught myself. When I had time, I went to tennis lessons, played on the courts every day, and consulted with the coach and other players. After another year, I became the best player, and the coach was impressed with me.

The tennis coach wholeheartedly trained me every day.  Soon I became the assistant tennis coach, and I worked part-time during weekends and holidays. Because of the coach’s help and teaching, I became a better version of myself during this period of my life. And after four years of ongoing practice in college, I had the honor of winning the tennis championship my senior year.    

After graduating from college, I began regularly supporting charity work, and I started a tennis club along with some of the other athletes. I also began studying for the teacher preparation exam. I was unsuccessful in the first round of exams, but I studied and prepared for the exams again. Fortunately, I got into the teaching profession. I am now a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Guangdong Institute of Petrochemical Technology. I like my job, and my life is the way I want it. Thank you for all the people who have helped and encouraged me over the years.  

Many times over the years, I was confused and torn by the choices I faced, but as long as you follow your heart, not afraid of failure, not afraid of hardship, and dare to try; I believe you will become what you want to be. 

Thank you for your generous donations to Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation’s scholarship fund for Chinese girls! Because of you, young women like Lijuan have been empowered to change their destinies and reach their professional dreams. And now they are helping others do the same.  

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This letter was originally written by Lijuan in Mandarin; translated to English with the help of Qian Qian, CWEF volunteer; and edited for length and flow by April Chiasson, Communications Manager.

This summer, during our Join The Community campaign, we are looking for more people with a heart for students like Lijuan. Would you consider joining The Community as a monthly donor today?

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. 

 

Sreymom

How She’s Giving Back

Her name is Sreymom; she is Cambodian. She grew up in a village as the oldest of five children. Sadly, when she was just twelve years old her mother died. Then helping her father earn an income for the family became her responsibility too, and after she completed sixth grade, her father asked her to begin full-time factory work.  

Sreymom describes, “In my village, mostly at the age of 12–13 years old, (the young people) will (lie about) their age in order to work in a factory. They don’t want to study but want to work in a factory where they can earn money and become beautiful. However, I didn’t want to work there. I wanted to study even though I didn’t know what it will become. I still wanted to study. ” 

Sreymom

At twelve years old, Sreymom was underweight. When factory managers saw her small size, they refused to hire her. Not a single factory accepted her. However, every other one of Sreymom’s friends, who were of normal height and weight, received job offers and began working full-time in factories just like they had dreamed of. 

After all the factory rejections, Sreymom’s father sat back and considered what to do. If not in a factory, where else could he find work for Sreymom? Soon he found a skills training center in Kompong Chnang province for women who had dropped out of school. The center taught marketable skills like sewing and cooking. 

An Unexpected Opportunity

Sreymom really did not want to go to the training center. She wanted to continue her formal education. But she could not speak up or refuse her father. So in the end, she left home and began the multiple day journey to her new life at the skills training center. On the way, she stopped to lodge a single night with one of her relatives. The relative worked as a cook at a Christian orphanage called the Child Rescue Organization (CRO). This ‘chance’ visit would change Sreymom’s life forever.

While she was visiting, the CRO manager also met Sreymom and found out about where she was headed and why. In that one evening, the director ended up inviting Sreymom to live at CRO instead and pursue her studies there. After some initial surprise and discussion, Sreymom eventually agreed.

But the decision didn’t come without cost. When Sreymom’s father found out about the sudden change in plans, he became upset; and for the whole first year, he couldn’t support it.  He very much wanted Sreymom to give up her formal education so that she could earn money. But finally, the CRO director was able to talk with her father and explain the benefits of Sreymom furthering her education, and Sreymom’s father eventually agreed.

The Love and Care of Strangers

When Sreymom first heard of God at CRO, she was incredulous. She firmly committed herself to not believing in him. However, day by day, God used the people at the center to give Sreymom some of the love and care that she had never experienced before.  

She confesses, “No one forced me to believe in God at all, but their kindness and love from people that I have met…they treated me like family. And that made me open my mind unnexpectedly.”

Through CRO, Sreymom eventually successfully completed middle school and also high school. But then, she faced a new problem: she could not afford college.

College Problems

At this time, Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation (CWEF) was introduced to Sreymom and took up her case. CWEF fundraised through generous people like you to provide Sreymom with the necessary funds and an opportunity to fulfill her college dream.

And then, thanks to her own determination as well as a scholarship provided through the kindness of people like you, a well-known university in Phnom Penh admitted Sreymom as an English major!

At university, Sreymom faced many other battles including the fact that mastering the English language was incredibly challenging. At one point, she almost wanted to drop out of college altogether. But…her now personal faith in God kept her strong. Throughout this season of Sreymom’s life, CWEF staff continued to surround her with encouragement and a loving community. 

Sreymom graduating from university surrounded by her classmates
Sreymom’s Success

And in the end, she made it! Not only through middle school but through college. She achieved the dream that at one point looked impossible. After successfully graduating from college, Sreymom received job offers with good salaries from schools in Phnom Penh. But she turned down every single offer. Her desire wasn’t to make a lot of money. Instead, she desired to give back to the people that gave so much to her. Now she is working full-time at the Child Rescue Organization that she used to live at providing English lessons to more than one hundred Cambodian students for free.  

Today, Sreymom says:

“There are many kids who need my help to provide them with knowledge, and this is the best way that I could contribute back to my community.”   

Sreymom is grateful to Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation and all those who helped her on her journey! Now she can use her knowledge and story to inspire the next generation of students to not drop out of school but pursue their dreams instead.

It’s extremely exciting to see how everything Sreymom has learned, spiritually and educationally, is already spilling over and building up the next generation!

Thank you for helping to break the cycle of poverty for young people like Sreymom through your generous giving and support of Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation.

Sreymom back at CRO
Sreymom, with a few of her students

See more updates about the work of CWEF by following us on Facebook and Instagram!

Become part of the CWEF community and transform the lives of more outstanding young people by donating here.

This story was written by Panhary, CWEF Education Program Coordinator in Cambodia, with April Chiasson, CWEF Communications Manager.

Phanna’s Perseverance

In 1980, a young man in Cambodia stepped on a landmine laid by Khmer Rouge soldiers while clearing land for farming. He survived but faced many hardships as a disabled farmer. He married and had four children, one of whom was a boy named Phanna. The family worked hard for a low income, but then sadly faced a terrible tragedy when Phanna’s mother passed away in 2010 from chronic heart disease.

Phanna’s father was not able to care for all four children on his own, so he made the difficult decision in 2011 to bring them to a nonprofit center called the Child Rescue Organization (CRO), where their physical and emotional needs could be met. With this extra support, Phanna was able to develop his natural gifts. He grew into an exceptionally bright and diligent student, and he was a disciplined and helpful member of the CRO community. His English also improved rapidly through his own study and as he practiced with teams of students from other countries who came to visit and serve at CRO.

Phanna continued to work hard throughout high school and eventually graduated in 2017, earning a Grade A on the national exam – a very prestigious accomplishment in Cambodia. That year, nearly 100,000 students took the national exam, and Phanna was one of only 424 students in the entire country who earned an A!

Because of his excellent academic record, Phanna was awarded scholarships from two universities in Cambodia, but they only covered his tuition costs. Because of CRO’s relationship with CWEF, Phanna also learned about the CWEF University Scholarship program. He applied and was approved for additional support from CWEF for not only his living costs, but also for his continued spiritual, mental, and emotional development through regular encouragement and training opportunities with the CWEF team in Cambodia. Your generous support of CWEF made it possible for Phanna to realize his dream of studying International Relations at the University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, the capital city.

Phanna-with-fellow-scholars
Phanna with fellow CWEF Scholarship students in Phnom Penh;

But Phanna’s dreams and determination didn’t stop there.

During his first year in Phnom Penh, he began researching scholarships for study abroad programs and started preparing himself to be a strong candidate. The CWEF team encouraged him to apply for scholarship programs that interested him – even if he failed, it would be a great learning experience for him. In the end, Phanna was awarded a 4-year scholarship to study Social Policy and Development at Thammasat University, a prestigious institution in Bangkok, Thailand.

Headed-to-Thailand
At the airport, leaving Cambodia for Thammasat University in Thailand
With-fellow-students-in-Thailand
With fellow students at Thammasat University

CWEF is thrilled to be able to continue supporting Phanna with scholarship support for living costs, and the CWEF Cambodia team continues to help him with anything he needs, giving him confidence and encouragement to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Phanna recently shared with us that he has never feared living alone in Thailand because he knows that there are people from CWEF who are always there to love, care, support, and pray for him.

Phanna

Phanna will soon enter his third year at Thammasat University, and it should come as no surprise that he continues to excel. In his most recent semester, he earned a perfect 4.0 GPA. Not only that, Phanna joined a volunteer program at the university that is working to facilitate projects designed to help children in rural communities in Thailand.

In the future, Phanna wants to be a Governance and Policy Specialist and hopes to bring a positive impact to the society in his home country of Cambodia. We look forward to seeing what God has in store for the next season of Phanna’s education and adult life.

Because of your faithful prayers and generosity, Phanna is able to confidently share:

“In the future, I will be able to play a critical role to improve people’s living conditions in my country.”

by Panhary Port Puth (Cambodia Education Programs Director), with Joshua Lange (CWEF Executive Director)

Support Future Leaders Like Phanna

 

Yinlu’s Angel

Written by Elena Semler – CWEF Volunteer

You are an angel in my heart,” Yinlu writes to her high school scholarship sponsor of 3 years.

She is from a village in northeast Yunnan province and is a recipient of a CWEF scholarship, which provides financial assistance so she can attend high school. Hardships in life have given Yinlu an extra sense of purpose. “I am more mature than my peers. I think knowledge can change my fate. I studied even harder to enrich myself with learning and more knowledge. I want to be more excellent and capable.

Yinlu has had to endure more than most people will ever experience, in a short amount of time. “My mother left us when I was 3. She could not bear the poverty.” Her father, now burdened with a larger financial load, took a job at a coal mine. Her grandmother passed away not long after. Then, it was only a mere two months after her father buried her grandmother that, “he [my father] also left us forever,” when he died in an accident at work.

With more and more tragedies piling onto Yinlu’s family, her grandfather, heartbroken, took in his two granddaughters, Yinlu and her younger sister. Her grandfather would travel to many places to find work in order to provide for the three of them, but it did not matter how far he went or how late it was, he always came home to them.

As Yinlu’s grandfather, now 74 years old, deals with the difficulties of old age and still tries to help out around the house, Yinlu was sent to a welfare home for a period of time. Although difficult, she acknowledges that she learned a lot from that challenging time. Yinlu reflects:

“I believe that God is fair to everyone. He closes a door for you and will open a window for you. He gave me a poor and seemingly unfortunate life, but He also let me recognize the reality [of life] ahead of time.”

Yinlu understands the power of knowledge and has asserted that she will use her education for good and that she “will try to help others and become a person who is useful to society.”

Your gifts to the CWEF High School Scholarship program provide bright young women like Yinlu scholarships and support, preparing them for a life of leadership and service to their families and communities. Additionally, student development programs equip students for life after school, including crucial skills such as: setting goals and making plans, managing emotions, working in teams, and more. 

Thank you for being an angel to Yinlu and many more like her!


Preparing for the Gaokao and Bright Futures Beyond

Each year, graduating high school students from across China face one of the biggest challenges of their young lives: the university entrance exam known as the gaokao


Like many students around the world, education in China went online for much of the spring semester. Many rural students lack reliable internet access at their homes and have struggled to keep up with their exam preparations. To allow these students more time to prepare, the date for the gaokao was delayed one month and will now take place on July 7-8, 2020.

As the test date approaches, the pressure intensifies. Students, along with their parents and teachers, are keenly aware that their gaokao scores will be a primary determinant for the future direction of their education and career. Because of this, students prepare extensively for the two-day exam, toiling away for many months during early mornings, long nights, and weekends.

For the students you support, the sense of pressure is heightened by difficult family situations. Often, a student from a low-income rural family may be the first person in their family to take the entrance exam and have chance to go to university. Many of these students suffer heightened stress and anxiety related to the gaokao, even in a ‘normal’ year. During this unique school year, students have been hit with yet another major stressor as they prepare for the gaokao – the changes and limitations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.



To help relieve stress and to help students build mental and emotional resilience in the face of the gaokao and future life challenges, CWEF held a Pre-University Workshop at the end of May 2020 for the graduating students you support in Zhaotong. The purpose of the workshop was four-fold:

  1. To understand the students’ mindset and status leading up to the gaokao, and to help them make adjustments to maintain a healthy state of mind.
  2. To help relieve students’ psychological pressure and anxiety.
  3. To share helpful tips for taking the college entrance exam.
  4. To assist students one-on-one to deal with any special difficult situations they are facing.

We invited Zhonglu, a counselor and mental health researcher, to serve as the workshop facilitator. Zhonglu serves with one of CWEF’s local partners, the Zhengxin Social Work Service Center of Yunnan’s Wuding county. During one of the main group sessions, she led the students to share with the group related to the following:

  1. My dream or biggest hope for the future is…
  2. My ‘cautious wish’ is…
  3. My current status is…
  4. Currently, my happiest thing is…
  5. Currently, my saddest thing is…

In reflecting on this session, Zhonglu noted:

“Several participating students clearly showed a strong sense of loneliness and heavy stress. At the same time, many of the students shared about the joy that came from the tight emotional connection and strong sense of community they have with their fellow students on campus. Despite facing a lot of stress and anxiety, I was encouraged that the students are finding their own ways to cope. Some students choose basketball and running, and others choose to take a break to write in a journal or chat with their classmates.”

After the students had time to share and receive feedback from their peers, Zhonglu shared some tips from her own personal experience, and closed with an important message:

“Yes – the gaokao is one of the most important things during this stage of your life, but you must work hard to treat it peacefully. If you give it too much of your attention, you will easily be defeated psychologically. This exam will have a strong impact on your future, but it does not completely determine your future.”

Thank you for your gifts that have made it possible for these young women to face this key moment of their lives with courage. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they make their final preparations for the gaokao in the coming week, and afterwards as they prepare for the bright futures that lays ahead of them!


Help Educate and Equip Young Women:

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!”


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