From Tears to Smiles
Reflections from our trip to Guangxi
By: Elizabeth Ann Ho
What an incredible week! One in which we will not easily forget.
It was early March of 2005, a team of seven of us, three from Vancouver and four from Toronto, under the leadership of C.R.R.S. executive director, Bethia Yuen, went to Guangxi, one of the autonomous regions of China. This is the area where C.R.R.S. had started projects of supporting needy students and teachers since 2002. The purposes of this trip were to monitor and evaluate these projects, and assess needs of other schools for future involvement.
We visited several rural village schools, and along the way encountered many individuals like government officials, Guangxi Charity Federation Representatives, school principals, teachers and students.
The highlight of all these encounters was the time spent dialoguing with students and teachers. Some are already receiving monetary support from C.R.R.S. Some of the stories, especially from the students were heart wrenching. We learned that some of these indigenous high school students have lost one parent or both due to illness or abandonment at a young tender age. Some have been depending on their elderly grandparents to work on the small family plot of land for their survival. Others have had to work on the farm or elsewhere while trying to attend school at the same time. Some families have incurred much debt from relatives in order to get an education for their children. As the students shared from their heart with their tears, we, including some of the government officials who accompanied us to these meetings, were deeply touched by these students’ circumstances, their courage and determination. We could not help but wept with them. We were amazed that one government official told one particular student to contact him directly for future assistance as needed.
The smiles came only when Bethia reassured students and teachers that supporters of C.R.R.S would continue to finance their educational expenses and see that they reach their educational goals. She also provided some of these students with individual envelopes of cash, school supplies and donated clothes from Canada. From these students’ eyes and smiles, we sensed a ray of hope, heartfelt gratitude and appreciation.
This trip has helped us to affirm that the work of C.R.R.S. in Guangxi is well worthwhile. Furthermore, the Guangxi experience has helped us to be more appreciative of the abundance with which we have been blessed in the West, not only materially, but also the opportunities to get an education, to work, to provide for our family, to live comfortably, and above all the freedom to know and worship a loving God, our Creator. We are once again reminded from the Bible, “To whom much is given, much is required”. May God help us to share His love as we share our abundance, especially to those of our fellow country people.