HeJiaWan is a small rural village in a valley of rice paddies and seasonal croplands. The residents here practice farming much as they have for hundreds of years – with only the help of their water buffalos and the strength of their own backs to rely on. There is no running water, no refrigeration, and precious few machines for use in their labor-intensive subsistence farming.
Economic pressures in HeJiaWan are severe, as in so many areas of the developing world. While there are schools available for children from first grade through high school, many children do not stay enrolled past junior high school. Instead, their families take children out of school so they can start working. Inevitably, these children must move to far-flung provinces for work in dangerous sweatshops, as there are so few job opportunities for local adults. Parents facing financial pressure cannot afford to keep their children in school, but by short-circuiting their educations, the parents doom their children to subsistence living of one kind or another.
Ensuring just one more high school, or even college, graduate means quite a lot to this village. Education translates into many immediate and significant choices that open up to that individual and family. I have seen with my own eyes how the education of one person can transform the lives of many, many people.
Through scholarship and stipend programs, the Bamboo Village Educational Fund hopes to give families a viable option to keep children in school. As the Fund grows, we also hope to expand by opening a library, offering teacher training, and bringing computers to the school. There are many opportunities to make a significant impact.
Here is how you can participate in this special initiative, and help educate these children:
- Make purchases through Bamboo Village Press or Cafe Press
- Become a guest artist by offering handmade goods for sale in Bamboo Village Press
- Donate children's books in Simplified Chinese