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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

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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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. 

 

BUILDING HEALTHY LIVES IN RURAL YUNNAN

The children were amazed to see the purple glow that emerged from on their classmate’s hands under the black-light. The idea of invisible bacteria and contaminants is difficult for anyone to understand. As part of CWEF’s health education curriculum, students participate in a simulation activity in which they see the transfer of ‘bacteria’ from hand to hand contact. The ‘bacteria’ is a transparent powder that is easily spread through contact. The transmission path can be seen when a black-light exposes the invisible fluorescent powder.

In December 2019, CWEF Health Director Jenny Chu led 30 children from two primary schools in Wuding county in rural Yunnan province through a two-day health education “Training of Trainers” session as a part of the HEAL (Health Education Advocacy & Literacy) program. These students will serve as health advocates—providing instruction and modeling to their peers in the areas of good hygiene and health promotion. 

The World Health Organization promotes proper handwashing to prevent illness and reduce the spread of disease. Once rural areas have access to reliable and safe drinking water, additional health and hygiene practices need to be introduced. Through HEAL training, children learn how to thoroughly wash their hands and gain knowledge about bacteria and contaminant transmission. Through reference books, hands-on training, the germ-glow black-light simulation, and a handwashing song, student health advocates learn knowledge and practice good habits. They are also equipped to teach their peers about the importance of handwashing and serve as models for this healthy habit.

In addition to handwashing, the program addresses oral hygiene and proper teeth brushing techniques, healthy diet and nutrition, and importance of keeping a sanitary environment. The training provides children with critical information for healthy living and opportunities for the health advocates to engage with their peers by sharing the information and leading activities. CWEF gathers baseline information regarding the knowledge and personal hygiene practices of the students in order to provide supplemental training and information.

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.

Health is Priceless

The rising costs of health care is a common concern in the West. People often take for granted the infrastructures and systems that automatically provide sanitary conditions and safe drinking water. Imagine what life is like for people, without health insurance, who are ill on a regular basis by simply drinking (unsafe) water.

Sambo and his wife, Ku, are 25-year-old farmers in the Sandan District of Kampong Thom Province in Cambodia. With a 7th grade education, Sambo makes a living by working the land on farms owned by others. But frequent diarrhea and abdominal pains not only kept Sambo from working; his chronic illness also incurred many medical bills for treatment. The whole family was ill and needed to borrow money just to cover their daily living expenses. The burden was very heavy on Sambo—how to provide for his family and pay the bills? Plus, all the while, they and their young son were struggling with poor health.

Using water from a well and collecting rainwater met their daily needs for washing clothes, cooking, and drinking. Ku believed that the rainwater was clean and was safe to use. However, the family was actually suffering from water-borne illnesses. In 2019, their lives dramatically improved after they decided to participate in a Biosand Water Filter and health training program facilitated by the local church and made possible by your generous donations to CWEF.

Sambo shares, “I regularly bottle the water from the filter and take it to the fields when I work, and I drink a lot of water before I go fishing on the river. All of my family members and I got healthier, and I hope that in the future my family’s living condition will continue to get better.”

Sambo now has enough time and energy to farm and provide for his family’s expenses. Not only are they healthy now—without abdominal pains and diarrhea—but they no longer need to spend so much money on medical treatments. Sambo and Ku can even begin to save money for their family’s future.

Here’s Sambo’s final word to you:

“Now, I am very happy after getting a Biosand Filter from Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation. Thank you for your donations to support my family’s living situation!”


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!


Sustained Health and Hope for Sarer

Sarer was a young wife and mother when she was widowed in 1994 in rural Cambodia. Her husband died of malaria, a common malady for farmers in tropical areas. Sarer lives in a multi-generational home with her elderly mother, along with her daughter and son-in-law. She works hard to provide daily necessities for her family.


“As a widow, without a good education, I don’t have any opportunity to work in higher-paying jobs. I work as a farmer, raising chickens, and I grow some veggies,” shares Sarer. “I remember a few years ago, my mom got sick with typhoid and stomach pains, while my daughter’s health was also weak. It required so much money that I took some loans to solve these problems. I thought that sickness is a part of [normal] life … so I didn’t fight to get anything better.”

Through a CWEF Animal Gift project, Sarer’s livelihood started to improve. She received animal husbandry training and five chickens. Her brood of chickens now numbers around 80! With the money from her chicken business, Sarer purchased a rice mill machine. She sells organic rice and uses the rice bran to feed her animals.



Later, CWEF introduced health training and made biosand water filters available to Sarer’s village. “I learned more about the bad effects of using unclean water.” She discovered that the cause of many diseases that her family and neighboring villagers experienced were from unclean water, such as abdominal pain, typhoid fever, and diarrhea. Sarer was very interested in using a biosand water filter. “I thought that I need to protect myself and take care my family from now on.”

Sarer’s health improved dramatically once she received a biosand water filter in 2018. She no longer needs to search for firewood needed to boil and purify her drinking water. “I trust the biosand filter!” she shares. “I use the water for cooking, drinking, and showering. I am now healthier than in the past. I have more strength to work and take care of my family.”

CWEF’s vision is a “world of thriving communities, serving and inspiring hope in others.” Through CWEF projects, Sarer and her family are now thriving. In her own words, she reflects:

“My life is better than five to six years ago. Thank you so much for bringing the development projects – both Animal Gift and Biosand Filter projects – to my community.”



Support Mothers Like Sarer:

 

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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