PEACH FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER
March, 2013, issue No. 34
Dear Friends of PEACH,
We are adding 650 new ninth graders into our program this year. We need your help to continue to sponsor these children. Please spread the news to your friends and family, and we thank you in advance.
Lost Pearl Project -- We are starting a pilot project this year. In addition to the 650 new ninth graders, we are adding 300 orphaned seventh graders, mostly girls. Our goal is to help these orphans either continue to high school, or go to a vocational school to learn a skill to support themselves.
In the past years, PEACH policy has been to accept only the top 20% of students of the classes providing their family income do not exceed $700 per year. However, we have since learned that there are many orphans in the villages where we do projects. Some of these children got bounced around between their relatives’ homes, while other children try to survive on their own. These children only wish to have their basic needs fulfilled, with a roof over their heads and their bellies not aching from hunger.
Last November during the home visits, I met a girl named Zhang, who had a great smile and seemed very happy. On her application, she came from a single-parent family. She had no mother. I asked her when her mother passed away. She replied that her mother was still alive, but she had left when Zhang was little. This is not uncommon among PEACH students, so I dropped the subject. I then asked her what her father did for a living. Zhang replied, “My dad died last week,” followed by an eerie giggle. I asked, “How did he die?” Zhang responded, “He was fine, but he died the next day. Maybe it was because he drank too much,” followed by more strange giggling.
One of the questions on the PEACH application form asks, “What is the saddest thing to you?” and her answer was, “My younger brother’s death.” I asked Zhang, “When did your brother die?” Zhang explained, “It was about three years ago. My Dad did not drink that much before, but he started drinking a lot after my brother died,” followed by more eerie giggling.
Zhang currently ranks number one in her class, but I had a feeling that she was thinking of dropping out, so I asked her, “Do you want to go to high school after finishing middle school?” Zhang answered, “I don’t know,” followed by more giggling.
I had no heart to ask her further, because I could see she was on the brink of breaking down. So I told her, “Dear child, please raise your head and look into my eyes.” Zhang couldn’t, so I asked her again until she finally did. I held her hands gently and said, “I will never give you up, even when you give yourself up.” At that moment, she started crying. I knew that in my promise, I had just thrown a valuable life vest to this young girl who was on the verge of drowning.
Children like Zhang had to take care of themselves just to survive. Their lives are even more difficult than other PEACH children who have parents. As for the 300 orphans, they are looked down even more by their teachers and classmates because their grades are terrible. They are exceptionally lonely and have no self-esteem.
Given the extremely harsh situation these orphan children are facing, we made a decision to sponsor 300 orphaned children this year, regardless of their grades. Our goal is to help them to continue their schooling. It would be wonderful to get the orphaned students into high school, but if not, we will support them to go to a vocational school to learn a skill and become independent.
Most people in China do not value vocational school. In China’s education system, everyone wants to go to high school, then college in order to find a job in the government. With this view, it is not difficult to understand why teachers discourage the children with lower grades to drop out of school, as these impacts the schools’ overall success rates. However, we disagree. We believe it is wonderful to help support these underprivileged PEACH children with good grades to college against all odds. However, it would be an even bigger accomplishment if we help these young and impoverished orphans to be financially independent after graduating from vocational schools.
We are building a Big Brother, Big Sister Program to help these 300 orphan children. Our plan is to have the PEACH college students and college graduates to write to these young orphans. All PEACH students came from similar backgrounds, and it is our belief that these orphans could have a chance to open their hearts and gain the support that they need from other PEACH students. We also believe that given time, these children will feel the love from our large PEACH family. We are establishing a free hotline in our Kunming office for these kids to call at all time. We believe that these children can learn a useful life skill in the vocational school, and they will be able to face their lives with strength, confidence, and courage to pursue their dreams.
We would like to extend a special thank you to Mr. Gao in Taiwan for sponsoring these 300 orphans. We would also like to thank our 2013 summer camp teachers in advance for providing their love and care to the PEACH kids during the upcoming camp programs. With love, there is nothing we can’t conquer.
2013 English Summer Camps: We are pleased to report that volunteer teacher spots for all three summer camp sessions have been filled. PEACH college students will teach the fourth summer camp session for the elementary school kids.
2013 Volunteer Understanding Trip is scheduled from October 25, 2013 to October 31, 2013. We are going to visit the famous Lugu Lake in Yunnan Province. We invite you to join us. Mystery and charm surround the Lugu Lake because of the natural beauty it has retained over the years. What is more, probably the most interesting and famous aspect of Mosuo culture is the practice of “walking marriages,” which attracts tourists from near and far.
You will find several students’ biographies enclosed, as well as our PEACHER publication #12. These are words from our PEACH children. Please enjoy them.
I would like to donate to the Laurice children medical funds (at an average of US$20 per child.)
I would like to send _____children to attend Summer Camp (at US$50 each for one week.)
I would like to donate to scarf and mitten funds (at US$5 per child.)
I would like to donate to thermal-pajama funds (at US$5 per child.)
I would like to donate to mosquito net funds (at US$5 per child.)
I would like to donate to the library funds (at US$20 per library)
I would like to donate to the foundation administration funds
I would like to donate to the mini-loan for middle and high school students’ living expenses (amount as you wish.)
I would like to donate to the college loan funds (amount as you wish.)
I would like to donate _ (laptop computer/ digital camera/ cell phone)
I would like to increase my sponsorship to ___ high school students and ___ middle school students; the yearly costs are US$250 for a high school student, US$125 for a middle school student.
Please make check payable to PEACH FOUNDATION.
Donors in Taiwan please change the amount to New Taiwan Dollars, payable to PEACH FOUNDATION, Account No.: 50011068 and it is tax deductible.
1098 Marlin Avenue, Foster City, CA 94404, U.S.A.
Phone：650-525-1188 fax: 650-525-9688
10046 Zhang XX, Male, 9th grade
Life for my family has always been hard because of poverty. My mom passed away when I was only 2 years old. My brother and I were raised by my dad, grandma and our neighbors. Our living conditions are difficult to improve since dad is the only work force in the family.
When my brother and I started school, dad started doing other temporary jobs in addition to farming in order to pay for our schooling. Our clothes were shabby and old, and in the winter we merely added a few layers of patched clothes. In elementary school, dad was able to barely afford our tuition, but after that, he no longer could. Dad started working longer hours and borrowing money from neighbors in order to keep both of us in school. The great work load made him ill, but he didn’t tell my brother and me. He just endured it by himself because he didn’t want to make us worried. One cold winter day five years ago, dad could no longer fight the illness, and, with much regret and unfulfilled wishes, left my brother and me behind.
At that time, my older brother had not even finished elementary school, and he desired to learn. But in order to support the family, he dropped out of school. His decision to sacrifice himself for me was so great, and from that moment, I aspired to work hard and someday repay him.
In the days after, I became more diligent, and my brother tried his best to work in the field to maintain the family’s conditions. Besides farming, he also took upon other jobs with the help of other adults to earn a living and pay for my education. I did well on the final exam in sixth grade and qualified for a better middle school in the township. But we couldn’t afford the expenses, so I had to attend the middle school closest to home – Longpan middle school. Despite studying in Longpan, the cost was still very high, and because it was a 4-mile walk from home, I had to pay for lunch at school, which meant even more expenses for my brother. Although it wasn’t easy for him, my brother still encouraged me to keep working hard, and spent as little as possible on himself. He put in extra effort at work and never made me bare the burden. He is only two years older than me, but he has to endure so much pressure. He has had headaches, backaches, and other sicknesses but he chose to save the medicine money for the family.
10062 He XX, Female, 9th grade
My mom and dad have worked hard to raise my sister and me to middle school. As their child, when I notice how they emaciate and appear older than the grandparents of other families, and how they often have low back pain and other illnesses, I feel terrible, but what can I do to help them? Dad has arthritis, and many times he can’t even hold his chopsticks still. My grandma became schizophrenic when I was young, and she was always missing. In order to find her, mom and dad had to borrow money and ask many people for help. Although we always end up finding her, mom and dad had to bear the burdens of paying back money and favors. Even till today, we are still in debt and I am always frightened by the debtors when they come to our house. Grandma’s conditions have gotten better, but occasionally she would still go insane, and I’m afraid to see her smash the pots and plates, plus the noise disturbs the neighbors. We need help from our neighbors every time to calm grandma down.
My family owns less than a quarter acre of land, and the crop yield is very low. In elementary school, my classmates would bring all kinds of food from home, but I have hardly anything – all my family could afford was corn
Mom and dad have to support my sister and me, so they have no time to build new houses. Most of our neighbors have built new houses and also bought color TVs. Every family has all kinds of electronics, but my family cannot even afford the cheapest television. We only have a house that can’t withstand wind and rain and is on the edge of collapsing. Schooling expenses are high for my sister and me, and my mom and dad cannot afford them. I can often hear them weeping before bed. Sometimes we can’t even afford a pack of matches. Facing these challenges, I am constantly at the risk of dropping out of school. Besides being thrift and appreciative, there is nothing else I can do.
10073 He XX, Female, 9th grade
I live in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. I'm just an ordinary person, but my experiences are unordinary.
Because my family was poor, I learned to cook, feed the pigs, and help my parents with chores from a very young age, etching permanent scars of labor on my hands. Because I lived in a rural village, I would help my mother gather firewood and pig feed every morning before school. My mother always put the heavy firewood in her own basket, while I shouldered a piece of firewood on my back and accompanied her along the winding mountain roads. Those roads always seemed to stretch along forever. It was probably the distance that would often give my mother sores on the back of her feet. As I looked at her white hair, my heart grew cold, and I'd wish I could grow up faster.
Elementary school was the worst time of my life. My father suffered from constant chills and schizophrenia, and my mother often had feminine problems. The cruelty of life increased my troubles. I can't even count how many times I tread the path between school and home during those times, as every time my father's sickness relapsed, my mother would go do odd jobs for people for sake of our livelihood, and I had no choice but to run home and cook during school breaks. The whole way home I would be sick with worry, my heart beating a million times a minute, as huge drops of sweat rolled down my temples. That uneven mud road was nearly treaded flat by my footsteps. The minute I arrived home I would cook for my father. If I accidentally provoked him in some way, my father would hit my face with his hand or chopsticks. Sometimes he would even throw his basin at me. My body was covered in bruises and scars, but I never said anything until my father was cured.