Four decades on, a charity foundation keeps going all out to help children in need

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Beijing Review, November 22, 2021
Adjust font size:

During the Double 11 online shopping festival season, Liu Lu, a 28-year-old restaurant owner in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, "purchased" something rather special on Taobao, one of China's leading online shopping platforms. With 66 yuan ($10.32), he made a donation to the online store of the China Children and Teenagers' Fund (CCTF), which will be used to buy stationery, sports goods, musical instruments and other things for children in need, such as those who suffered accidents, or those living in remote rural areas whose parents work in large cities—the left-behind children.

This charity program called HELLO Kids was initiated by the CCTF in 2015. The online store reads that 3 yuan ($0.47) can get the children a skipping rope; 10 yuan ($1.56) will get them a set of colorful crayons to help draw out their ideal future; and 20 yuan ($3.13) will buy a harmonica that can bring them one step closer to their musical dreams.

"Those words deeply touched me," Liu told Beijing Review. "One hundred yuan ($15.64) will barely buy you a decent meal in the big city, but it might change the life of a kid. As I'm more self-sufficient and capable of helping others, I will continue to donate on a regular basis."

By the end of 2020, the HELLO Kids program had nearly 260,000 beneficiaries. It is one of many programs of the CCTF, the first national public-raising foundation in China. Since its establishment 40 years ago, the organization has dedicated itself to pooling donations from all strata of society to help millions of children across the country.

Give and take

More than 30 years ago, a dropout problem plagued China's poor areas. According to the fourth national census in 1989, 4.8 million children aged 7 to 14 had left school due to a lack of financial resources, and 83 percent of these were girls. Spring Bud, one of the organization's pioneer projects launched in 1989, has helped girls and young women strive for a better life, mainly through providing them educational opportunities.

Feng Guixian was among the first kids to benefit from the project. In 1980, she was born in Yaokou Village in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a place brimming with Yao ethnic culture but lagging behind in education, especially for girls. Growing up, young women grazed cattle on the pastures, cut firewood, embroidered, and got married—this was the typical course of life.

In 1989, more than 10 girls, including Feng, joined the first class for girls at a local primary school. The class was sponsored by both the local government and the CCTF. All students were exempt from tuition, accommodation and other miscellaneous fees.

"The first time I set foot in the school, the first time I got a textbook, and the first time I learned how to read, that feeling of joy was indescribable!" Feng said.

Feng later enrolled in teacher training schools. In 2000, she became the first female teacher of Hongyao descent, a group of ethnic Yao people who wear red clothes, in her hometown. Her classmates have gone on to become doctors, soldiers and entrepreneurs.

Yet the traditional mindset in the area did not change overnight. Many people of the senior generation still believed that girls should get married and have kids as soon as possible—rather than go to school. One day in 2006, Li Yufang, one of Feng's students, suddenly stopped coming to class. After paying a visit to her home, Feng learned that Li's mother wanted her to help out with the farming as her father was working in a big city and there was a lack of workforce to get things done at home. After talking to Li, Feng found out that she was still eager to obtain more knowledge. So Feng would go to her home after school and tutor her every day. As time went by, the mother was so touched by Feng's exertions and decided to let her daughter resume school. Li went on to study medicine.

Over the course of more than three decades, the Spring Bud project has helped 3.86 million girls and young women like Feng and Li. As the students and their families live better lives with the entire country gradually shaking off absolute poverty, and people put more emphasis on education, the project has offered other forms of help to female students, including providing personalized psychological counseling and teaching them the practical skills to land a job.

Combined efforts

The CCTF has raised more than 6 billion yuan ($940 million) since its establishment in 1981, according to official statistics, and more than 8,000 enterprises have donated money and goods to children through the organization.

The fund has worked with government departments in launching programs such as handing out nutritional supplement packages for infants aged 0-3 in underdeveloped regions. One program in particular, launched a decade ago together with the Chinese health authorities and the All-China Women's Federation, aims to eliminate nutritional anemia among those children. Furthermore, lectures on various feeding methods were made available for their parents to attend.

In 2019, another program was launched, targeting college students. During their summer and winter breaks, the youngsters volunteered as play companions or tutors for the left-behind children in their respective hometowns.

A number of other charities, too, have joined the CCTF ranks. In addition to making donations, Tencent Foundation, the charity arm of Chinese tech giant Tencent Group, puts to full use its technological advantages to help the CCTF's projects set up their digital platforms. Since 2015, people can learn more about the Spring Bud project and donate to it through a WeChat account on their smartphones.

In addition, online streaming platforms and media have launched digital programs together with the CCTF, inviting celebrities and other people with strong public influence to raise awareness about helping children in need.

Domestic help aside, international contributors have also been actively involved with the CCTF. For example, in 2015, the United Nations World Food Program and the CCTF launched a year-long initiative to improve nutrition and future health outcomes for mothers and young children in the first 1,000 days of life; U.S. dietary supplement manufacturer D-Cal has launched joint activities with the fund on various issues like improving young parents' child rearing skills.

Those interested in contributing can donate via the CCTF's official website, where all detailed donation information, including donators' names, receipt numbers, program names and donation amounts, is made public.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:    
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from