The boy standing near the primary school gate, keenly watching his peers playing within, was obstinate -- he didn't like study or going to school.
But the reporter who followed him home found that Li Yinming dropped out of school to support his elder sister's education and take care of his parents who are both ill. The 14-year-old said through his tears that he was once a good student.
The boy lives in Zhangxian, a small county in northwestern China's Gansu Province.
Now Li Jinming's fate may be changed by a program called China Children's Charity Day, jointly organized by the All-China Women's Federation and the China Children and Teenagers Fund.
Deputy Director of China Children's Charity Day organizing committee He Han said that the program aimed to mobilize the whole society to help the dropouts in the poor areas, especially in western China.
It calls on children to donate one day's pocket money, individuals to donate one day's income, families one day's expenses, enterprises one day's profit.
The program has received support and responses from more than 60 cities since its initiation in February this year.
Representatives from cities and enterprises who joined the program attended a ceremony here Tuesday morning, donating money 21.8 million yuan (about US$2.7 million).
Western China covers a large area with rich resources, but it also has about two million children facing difficulty in education because of poverty. About 400 yuan (US$48) is needed for a child's tuitionfor one year, and a total of 800 million yuan (US$97 million) will be needed altogether.
He Han said it was impossible to help all the dropouts back to school with the donations collected in the program, but at least "we can help children in some areas to continue their education".
He said the organizers also hoped to promote the public's sense of social responsibility and social awareness through the program.
According to He, China Children's Charity Day will end on June 22. All the money donated will be used to help the dropouts in poor areas in western China.
(People's Daily May 22, 2002)