rural development

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.

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

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.

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. 

 

Project Success Leads to New Work in Tboung Khmum

Since 2011, CWEF has collaborated with local churches and government partners in Cambodia’s Kampong Thom province to improve health through holistic development projects. A pillar of CWEF’s work in Kampong Thom has been the Biosand Water Filter project supported by your generous gifts, which have provided local families with convenient access to clean and safe water in their homes, reducing the impact of water-borne illnesses. Additional work in this area over the past decade has included an Animal Gift project, which has provided sustainable income for 44 low-income families, along with eight new water wells in four villages.

“When a family receives a Biosand Filter, they also participate in health education training related to safe drinking water, how to use the Biosand Filter, and instructions related to installation and maintenance,” shares Kanhchana Thoy, CWEF Cambodia Health Programs Director. CWEF works in partnership with local pastors and village leaders throughout the length of the project, providing these remote communities with life-changing health provisions.

In total, 310 Biosand Water Filters have impacted a total of 2320 people in the Sandan and Chheu Tile communes, serving both families and primary schools. From time to time, the filters need to be renewed and repaired, and this project also restores broken Biosand Filters as needed. We are thankful to share that because your generous gifts, the most acute needs of this remote area have been provided for.


CWEF’s Kanhchana Thoy expresses our gratitude to Pastor Koy Thea in Kampong Thom
Visiting families with Pastor Sareun in Tboung Khmum

Now, our CWEF team in Cambodia is shifting its focus to a new area, again working closely with local church and village leaders. Tboung Khmum province is the location for a newly launched HEAL (“Health Education, Advocacy and Literacy”) project, which includes holistic health education and infrastructure like water wells and Biosand Water Filters.

This community development work will help the “large population of older women, who are taking care of their grandchildren and receiving remittances from their adult children (especially daughters) working in urban areas,” shares Kanhchana. In this area, the average income is between $3 and $4 a day. The health education program, coupled with reliable water wells and Biosand Water Filters, will help “communities live better lives by reducing sickness.”



CWEF anticipates a process of 3-5 years to implement a holistic approach as we equip local health advocates and local families in Tboung Khmum with training and infrastructure.

“This project will have a sustainable impact on many families in Tboung Khmum as we equip them with new knowledge and skills they can use to develop their own communities,” shares Kahnchana.

Thank you! Your support continues to help bring a life-changing renewal of health and hope to families in rural Cambodia.

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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