PEACH FOUNDATION NEWSLETTER
August, 2013, issue No. 35
Dear Friends of PEACH,
2013 Summer Camps with Our Lost Pearls – In January of this year, we started supporting 300 orphan students. By June, 15 students had already dropped out. Our staff tried to find them and encourage them; however, we were not successful in persuading them to return to school. This fact broke my heart. I couldn’t image how these thirteen- and fourteen-years-old children would survive in such a competitive world without skills or any support.
I know we cannot wait until summer 2014 to work with these children. We will lose more than 50% of these students if we wait. We need to reach out to these children and give them the emotional support that they need as soon as possible. As a result, I changed our 2013 Summer Camp plan to include three sessions instead of two. We invited all new students to the camps with the hope that with the love of our volunteer teachers these students would be able to re-establish their self-confidence and continue their studies. I am glad to report that the three sessions of summer camps were a great success: 85 volunteer teachers and 806 PEACH students participated.
During our first summer camp session in YuanYang, the difference between the lower performing orphans and our traditionally high achieving PEACH students was minimal. I was disappointed because I did not feel challenged, but I was also happy that I did not have to be.
Many of the new teachers felt helpless during the opening ceremony of the summer camp; because they faced a group of students so shy they would not even look them in the eyes. I told these new teachers, “These are not the kids’ real nature. They are pretty nutty once they get to know you.” Our veteran teachers nodded their heads in agreement. I also told the new students, “I guarantee that you will become a different person at the end of the camp!” They all looked at me, not sure if they believed me.
The last day of camp is the day when we witness the fruits of our love. Our teachers are always amazed by the performances during the Chinese recital program and the talent show. It is with the power of love that these children are able to demonstrate their talents – these hidden talents not even the children themselves realize they possess.
Our 2nd session of summer camp took place in HongHe. The behavior of the orphan students during the session was very different than what we experienced in the previous session. Eight veteran teachers reflected to me that they never had PEACH students like these. These orphan children were not interested in anything, and it was obvious that they did not care. These observations came from veteran volunteer teachers who had been teaching PEACH summer camps for years. One teacher was so upset, one day she had to walk out of her classroom. She did not have the heart to punish her students, so she gave herself a timeout. She punished herself for not being able to motivate her students.
I was feeling depressed when I was unable to come up with a good strategy either. So, I consulted with my daughter, who majored in Psychology. She said, “Mommy, just tell them: I will never give up on you, even when you are ready to give up.” These were the exact words I told an orphan last November, and I had shared the story with my daughter later. Now, she was reminding me of my own words.
The next day, I told all 250 students in my Happy Life class: “Your teachers are feeling hurt because you do not care about anything. You are so young, yet you already gave up on yourself. This makes your teachers very sad. We will never give up on you, even when you are ready give up!”
The day after was also the last day of the camp. Many teachers told me that they were not sure what happened, but the children were different. They became lively.
The performances by these orphan classes during the Chinese recital program and the talent show were on par with the other classes. I am not sure what the reason for their changes was. Was it because of what I said? Or, was it the right time for them to open up? Or, was it because with love, there is nothing we cannot conquer. Maybe all these parts finally came together.
I decided to investigate further as to why we had such a different experience with the children from HongHe County during Summer Camp. As a result, I learned some amazing and sad truths from a PEACH graduate who is working for the HongHe County Government. He told me that 90% of farming families do not have faith in education. Parents encourage their children to drop out from school as young as possible in order to work. Some parents try to marry their daughters several times in order to collect dowry for their families. Children grow up in this environment, not knowing any better. They cheat and steal as if it is nothing wrong. We are determined to break this vicious cycle by working harder with PEACH orphan students, especially those from HongHe County.
Based on the concerns I mentioned above, I am considering holding two sessions of Winter Camps in February 2014, where we will invite all the new and existing PEACH orphan students from HongHe, YuanYang and LvChun Counties to attend. We want to concentrate our efforts in tutoring the students in their schoolwork, as well as supporting their emotional needs. We plan on inviting our outstanding PEACH college students to be our Winter Camp teachers. It is our hope that these Big Brothers and Big Sisters can lead the children by example, and guide them with a proper value system and teach them the importance of learning.
2014 Summer Camps – Our plans are as follows. Registration starts now, due date is 1/31/2014. First come, first served.
Session #1 7/9 – 7/18/2014 Yunnan, HongHe Region, YuanYang High School, Space Available
Session #2 7/19-7/28/2014 Yunnan, NuJiang Region, LuShui High School, Space Available
Breaking News – We have 747 PEACH college graduates as of 2012, and they are working in very diverse fields. We often refer these kids as our “Peaches.” They were the seeds we planted more than 10 years ago, and they are mature and independent now. This is the best harvest we can hope for. During this year’s summer camps, more than 30 “Peaches” came to visit the uncles and aunties and shared their experiences with the new students attending the camps. The stories from our Big Peaches were exactly what these new students needed to conquer the challenges of staying in school. One college student said, “Although we were born with nothing, we are working hard so that our children will be born with something.” We are also very pleased to report that as of this July, 510 middle school children will be going to high school, 342 high school students will go to college, and 300 students graduated from college.
Special Thank You - We would like to thank Mr. Pong from DongGuan who organized and donated clothing and toiletries to the children. We would also like to thank Ms.Chou from Taiwan for donating 500 backpacks to summer camp students. Also, special thanks to QiQi Corporation from ShenZhen for donating many wonderful toys to our summer camp participants. Our students loved them. Finally, we want to thank all our 2013 summer camp teachers for their love and patience.
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. This trip is fully booked.
You will find several students’ biographies enclosed, as well as our latest DVD. 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
12094 Chang XX, 7th Grade, Female
I was born in March, 2000 to a plain farming family. I am in seventh grade, class 49. My parents passed away due to illness, but I have a brother who is a senior in high school, and a grandmother and grandfather who are nearing their 60s.
I have a very outgoing and playful personality, although I tend to get in trouble with my teachers because I like to talk. However, I am working on changing my bad habits.
My favorite class is PE and I love to jump rope. I often jump rope in my backyard after I get home from school.
Since I live so close to the elementary school, I started first grade when I was five years old. At first my teachers refused to admit me because of my young age, but thanks to the persistence of my relatives, they eventually accepted me. When I first entered elementary school I only cared about playing, and often made my teachers mad. I didn’t have good grades, but under the guidance of my teachers and my classmates, I became fifth of my class at the end of the school year. I was happiest in first grade, with my teachers’ support and my parents’ love.
When I entered second grade, everything was going well until my parents became very sick and passed away. While everyone was reveling in the joys of the New Year, my brother and I were dealing with our own pain and sadness. At that time, I was six and my brother was11. In this way, our lives were sealed with our grandparents. They were getting older as the years passed, and even though they must have felt sad as well, they remained strong for us.
I decided that I would get a good score on my finals to show my appreciation for my grandparents, teachers, and friends for their support. I graduated from elementary school third of my class. I only had one goal after I got into middle school, and that was to study hard for three years and then attend my dream school, Li-Jiang No. 1 High School, just like my brother.
Everyone has his/her strengths and weaknesses. My strength is I am very patient in everything I do. Whether in life or in school, I can clearly identify my goals and am not afraid of the challenges I would need to overcome to reach them. I am a good granddaughter and sister at home, and a good student at school. I also have many weaknesses, such as not taking good care of myself or talking during class. However, I will work hard to correct these faults. I cherish the privilege of being able to go to school. I will work hard to become a contributing member of society.
12211 Li XX, 7th Grade, Female
I am 14 years old and am from Yuan Yang.
I come from a single-parent family. When I was younger, my parents split up due to their differences. My mother cruelly left me behind. At that time no one liked me, only my dad and my grandmother. My grandmother raised me, and without her, I wouldn’t be here today.
As I grew up, I saw other kids go to school and wished that I could go too. As my dad left to make money for our family, my grandfather was getting weaker from numerous illnesses and sometimes my grandmother’s leg hurt so badly that she couldn’t walk. I lived with my grandparents and my uncle. My uncle treated me badly because he thought the house belonged to him.
Ever since my uncle had his own children, he became very frightening. He often scolded me, even for things that I didn’t do. After I started school, I learned to tolerate these things, and to cry in secret when I was sad. I didn’t tell anyone how I felt, not even my grandmother, who was my best friend.
When I was in 6th grade, money was extremely tight. My grandfather’s condition just got worse and worse. One time my uncle pushed him and my grandfather bumped into the corner of a table. He couldn’t even get up, but instead of helping him, my uncle just stood there. My uncle and aunt look down upon my family. After I got to school the next day I finally broke down and started crying. I told my teachers and my friends that I might not be able to return to school because of my financial situation. They persuaded me and gave me the strength to stay in school.
Sometimes I really doubt myself. My own mother didn’t want me, my father is an alcoholic, we don’t have our own house, and my father barely makes enough to get us by (and sometimes doesn’t make any money at all). My tuition comes from the money that my aunt gave my grandmother. My grandmother saved the money and gave everything to me. I didn’t know how to appreciate it and just ended up wasting it.
I became more mature after I started middle school. The road in life is still so long. If I lived in memories and past experiences every day then what would be the point of going to school? I want to get rid of all of my bad habits and spend the time that other people spend playing on studying. I want to get good grades to repay all of those who have loved me and supported me.
Thank you, Uncles and Aunties of PEACH Foundation, for giving me this opportunity to go to school. I won’t let you down.