Once again it is the time of the year for us to write to you. First, please let us wish you and your family a happy and prosperous autumn!
Autumn is the season of harvesting; it is also a great time for hiking and other outdoor activities. Or maybe you are cheering your kids on in a sport event at school; maybe you are enjoying a movie with friends; or maybe you chose to sit in a quiet corner in a café and enjoy some music. There are so many choices for you, all too common even to think about.
At the same time, you may be thinking about places across the Pacific in China, where for many families such choices are too becoming very common. Yet there are still many in China for whom even a family get-tegother is quite a luxury to have, as the parents have left their home to find work thousands of miles away. For some, survival after a major injury or illness became the one and only theme in family life. For some the kids chose to start working at school age in order to share the burden on their parents' shoulder. Some schools plead for wherever they can get to make life a little better for the students, maybe a few more dorm rooms, a dedicated dining hall, a water well, a restroom with better sanitary facilities, or some coats and blankets to keep the kids warm in winter...
As you know, many of these “choices” are really not choices but simple necessity. Even though China has made significant investment to eradicate poverty and to improve education in rural areas, there is still a long way to go, especially for elementary education in regions of extreme poverty.
Despite all the hardships, many teachers chose to stay. Sometimes they get only a few hundred RMB yuan a month, but they stayed on the podium for decades so that the pupils have a place to study. Those are hard choices, but they stick to it, teaching the students not to compromise, not to give up, in hopes that one day they will be able to achieve their dreams and that they can in turn help others in need just as the people who are helping them now.
Who is born to be burdened with so much heaviness in life? Who doesn't deserve some leisure and beauty in life? We are very proud that we chose to go forward with them, and that you chose to back us up in our journey. Twenty-five years ago, a few founding volunteers brought up a simple idea to improve rural education in our motherland. Through the past 25 years, with the support of many dedicated donors and volunteers like you, we have successfully launched a variety of programs such as Financial Aid, Teacher's Stipend, Building and Facilities, Library, Online Classroom, Summer Teaching Camp, the Village Kidsmagazine and Letters to Students.
In 2017 alone, we sponsored 1,694 primary and junior high school students and 1,988 high school students, distributing a total of RMB￥3.2 million. 131 high school graduate students who have had financial aids from OCEF received college admission award, and 25 teachers received stipends from OCEF. 72 schools received over 20,000 books in total. With the help of more than 100 volunteers, kids in remote areas received 482 letters from our program. 78 volunteers taught 83 classes per week at seven elementary schools and six junior high schools, benefiting 2,350 students. Special Program Department completed projects ranging from drinking water supply to student housing renovation and winter coat, for a total of RMB￥ 430,000. 4,400 copies of Village Kids were delivered to over 100 schools. Meanwhile, we once again conducted our Summer Teaching Camp and Teachers' Training Camp in Huining and Yinchuan. Feng Luyuan, a recipient of OCEF stipend for teachers, was recognized by a School Principle Award sponsored by Jack Ma of Alibaba.
Even though our donors are not asking anything in return, your trust is our responsibility, and we cherish OCEF's reputation like our eyes, so that the love you shared would light the way and inspire more rural students in need. Only with total trust from donors like you can we recruit more helping hands and in turn help bring more children in need to a brighter future.
We know the issue surrounding rural education is far more than a simple matter of economy, and not every dream can become true. However, we believe each dream, each effort and each opportunity deserve to be respected and supported. We are holding on to the same ideal that inspired us to start off on the path. Can we count on you to continue backing us up?
Once again, please accept our best wishes in this season of plentiful!