Our story begins on May 22, 2015 at Luyu , a tea house located in the city of Kuming in Yunnan Province, with a fateful encounter between Ms. Yan Yang (“Yan”) ,the tea house manager and Ms. Kathy Tsao (“Kathy”), a traveler. Yan and Kathy struck up a conversation during which Kathy asked about Yan’s home town and her family. She learned that Yan came from a very poor region in the city of Nujiang, where many students of ethnic minorities, study. Its inhabitants are so poor that most of the children don’t have shoes. Yan and her siblings were among those . Because there is no work in the immediate region, parents have to go to other cities in order to make a living and cannot be with their children. These children, by necessity, are sent to boarding school. Yan’s younger sister, Ms. Haixia Yang (“Haixia”) became a teacher and teaches in one of those schools, “The Fugong Primary School” which is located in a remote mountain area. The funding for this school is little, the accommodations are meager.The children are in need of everything from shoes and clothing to mattresses and school supplies.
Kathy’s heart went out to these children and her interest piqued. She wanted to learn more about this school and reached out to Yan’s sister Haixia. They began communicating via “WeChat”. The following is just one of their conversations that inspired Kathy, which resulted in her dedicated commitment to this cause.
This is Haixia Yang, Yan Yang’s younger sister. I am a teacher at Fugong Primary School located in the Village of Fugong, Nujiang County, Yunnan Province.
First of all, I would like to thank you for writing me back despite your busy schedule. I am in full agreement with your words, “studying and learning skills are the best tools to change one person’s fate.” We have something in common, which is the fact that we both experienced difficult circumstances in childhood. I was born in a poor family, with an elder sister and younger brother. In my memory, my parents were often worried and bustled about for tuition for each of us. When they could not gather enough money to afford our education, I saw the scowl on their faces. Since we personally experienced such difficult times, we know how that feels. That is why we are supporting some students with our best efforts, although our capabilities are not far reaching since our resources are very limited.
Fugong Primary School is a public boarding school. There are over 400 students and 30 teachers between first grade to sixth grade. It has 13 classrooms in total. The President is Mr. Duo Lee. As it is compulsory education, all books are free. Many students here are growing up with hardships, including all the challenges of one-parent families for some, left-behind children and disease. Each family here is basically the same, financially unstable. Most students wear flip flops throughout the whole school year although it is very cold in the winter.
The geographical location adds more difficulty. Many kids have to walk a few dozen kilometers of mountain road to school because there is no public road available.
The final is to be taken on July 12, 2015 and then school will be closed for summer break from July 13, 2015. If Kathy plans to visit us on rainy days during this summer, please be very careful on the slippery and narrow roads. Sorry for talking a lot and taking up your valuable time. As I said before, it is a boarding school. Thus, our teachers work very hard managing students from morning until night. All students are from the local area and other surrounding villages. School is scheduled 7 days per week, with no weekends but there is a short break every two weeks. In general, the expenses for students include 1) a fee to travel home when school recesses for the short break (our students have to climb the mountain after they arrive the bus station in the middle; in the event there are no available roads, some students have to walk mountain roads all the way back to their homes); 2) medical costs (currently, these payments are all covered by teachers, as many students run out of money within one or two days after school resumes); and 3) other expenses to purchase school supplies and stationary.
When school resumes, parents will prepare some pocket money, usually 10 or 20 RMB, which is to be kept with teachers. The expenditure plan is about 0.5 or 1 RMB per day. The school break runs from July 13, 2015 to August 25, 2015. Students here have no vocational classes to attend. Instead, all of them will do farm work for their parents at home during the recess period.
After their correspondence, Kathy travelled to the school on 7/4/15. Upon seeing these children and their needs, she knew that she had to get involved, not only by personally contributing but by raising awareness and creating an organization to help them. The children need whatever assistance that could be provided. Their living conditions are extremely difficult and they do not have the most basic items to be protected from the brutal mountain climate. Kathy is but one person and cannot change the entire world. She realized that she could not provide all of the children for all of their needs but that she could help — one at a time. And this became her projects name : ” ONE AT A TIME” which will be known as: O A T Project.
As of June 9, 2015, working together, Kathy and Yan have been able to enlist several compassionate individuals who will be sponsoring a few of these school children. They plan to purchase 500 pairs of shoes, carpets, quilts and other bedding. Would you like to be part of OAT and help the children of Fugong Primary School ? Thank you.P.S. A few days later, on 7/9/15, on a trip to Mongolia, Kathy visited the Ariyabala Meditation Temple in Ulaanbaatar . The sign outside this temple had these wise words:
“You a traveler who is going to your next rebirth should accumulate as much good deeds as you can Just as you would pack food for a long journey”