A Sense of Hope
Donor, Vision Trip Member (April, 2009)
About five years ago, a friend invited me to attend the CRRS gala. I was deeply touched by Dr. Leung In Sing’s stories about children in China who did not have the opportunity to go to school. I said to myself that “some day” I would go with them to China. There were two things I needed to do first: heal the osteoarthritis in my ankle and learn Mandarin. I did both, but life got busy. While I continued to support CRRS financially, I did not visit these children in Guangxi until this past April.
I wanted to find out two things while on the trip. First, I needed to satisfy my concern that the funds raised by CRRS were actually reaching the people in need. I felt I owed it to my friends who support CRRS to make them feel confident of their support. Second, I wanted to know more about the hearts of the people behind CRRS.
Now that I am back, I must admit I do not have many stories of drama. I do not remember many of the students’ stories of their harsh circumstances. I did not record all their names and email addresses and promise to write. I do not even have many pictures that will move you to tears.
What I do have are memories of many children’s faces, some desperate because of the pressure on them to do well, some grateful knowing that we came a long way just to share hugs and many with tears streaming down their faces as we left.
There were the three girls I sat with at lunch at Rong Shui Second High School. The Vice-Principal told me that all three had lost one or both parents to accidents, diseases, or fires. Theirs were faces of deep sorrow but always polite. At dinner later that day, there they were sitting next to me again. They continued to seek me out all three days. As I encouraged them every chance I got, I saw their spirits lift and their faces relax. Did I make a huge contribution to their lives? I’m not sure. All I wish is that they gained a sense of hope.
There was another girl at the same school who looked depressed as we were teaching them English. She voiced her frustrations about marks and exams during our group discussions. I pulled her aside afterwards, reaffirmed her abilities and shared with her my own failures. She thanked me with tears. Will she remember our conversation? I’m not sure. All I wish is that she walked away with a sense of hope.
And finally, I met a group of boys at the Rong Shui Vocational School whom I had personally sponsored. As they stood up one by one to introduce themselves to me, many were so nervous they couldn’t speak yet were unwilling to sit down because they had so many feelings they wanted to share. Did they understand when I urged them to live meaningful lives even without a university education, when I told them that each and every one of them is wonderfully created with unique skills and talents? I’m not sure. All I wish is that I left them with a sense of hope.
Yes, a sense of hope. That is probably the most important thing we have given them through our financial help – the hope that they won’t be left behind in this fast-paced world, the hope that someone actually still cares enough to help them knowing that they probably won’t be able to repay, the hope that things will be okay.
CRRS’s relationships with the students go far beyond financial help. At Rong Shui Second High School, we equipped their Resource Centre and Language Lab to advance their computer and English skills. For the first time, we taught their teachers English and teaching techniques. We addressed over 900 students, in small groups of 30-40, with encouragement and our dreams for their future. This year CRRS actually offered summer internships to previous graduates of the program so they can give back to their own communities in meaningful ways. This is “Life Influencing Life” one of the goals of CRRS.
I cannot guarantee to anyone that every single cent raised does go to the students. What I did see is that checks and balances are in place, and that the people locally and at CRRS work hard to supervise and be accountable for the funds. What I also saw were the loving hearts of the people behind CRRS, the willingness to serve unconditionally and selflessly. Those were the answers I was looking for.
To the tireless volunteers at CRRS – I thank you for your inspiration and vision to give, to serve, to model selflessness. May you always be filled with a deep sense of responsibility and accountability and be good stewards of your time, your skills and the financial resources entrusted to you.
To the rest of us – may we fully embrace the responsibilities and the privilege that we have been blessed with to help others in whatever ways we can.