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20 years of building Hope, one shot at a time (I)

By Johanna Yueh
China.org.cn staff reporter

Xie Hailong [CPA]

Xie Hailong [CPA]

Xie Hailong was just a worker at a small factory before he became the photographer behind the most successful charity project inChina. 在成为中国最成功的慈善行动的幕后“推手”之前,解海龙还只是在一家小工厂工作。

Project Hope, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this October, has raised 4 billion yuan (US$5.86 million), financed the education of 3 million students and built 14,000 primary schools. It also has provided funding for structural and technological improvements and teacher training. And according to a 1999 report by theNationalResearchCenterfor Science and Technology Development, more than 63.5 percent of people in 29 provincial capital cities have contributed to Project Hope in some way. But the biggest contributor, perhaps, will always remain Xie.

The organizers of Project Hope, the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF), and Xie embarked on their public awareness campaigns for the education of rural Chinese youth separately. The Communist Youth League, recognizing the shortage of education funds for millions of young Chinese students in rural villages, established the CYDF to collect money from society, and Project Hope was launched. Its first school, inAnhuiProvince, opened the same year. 解海龙与希望工程的组织者---中国青少年发展基金会分别发起行动,以期提高公众对农村青少年教育的认识。中国共青团,发现农村地区数百万青少年教育面临缺乏经费的困境,便成立了中国青少年发展基金会面向社会筹款,同时成立希望工程。同年,第一所希望小学在安徽建成。
By then, Xie already had heard news reports about the difficulties rural children faced in getting an education and traveled to remote villages to see them firsthand. In 1987, while inGuangxiProvinceto photograph folk customs, Xie heard students reading aloud and followed the sound. The sounds led him to a single-room schoolhouse with some 30 students, ranging from grade 1 to 6, and a young teacher carrying her own 5-month-old baby on her back. Touched by the scene, he started taking pictures - his first ones of rural education. Xie had found the direction for his photography career. 那时,解海龙已经从相关报道中了解到农村教育面临的诸多困难,并开始亲自走访偏远农村了解情况。1987年,当他在广西省拍摄民俗时,他听到了孩子们朗朗的读书声并闻声来到了一个只有一间教室的校舍。那里有30多名孩子正在上课,从一年级到六年级,只有一名年轻的教师背着她5个月大的孩子在教课。此景触动了解海龙,于是拍摄下第一组关于农村教育的照片。至此,他找到了今后的艺术方向。
"I couldn't sleep that night," Xie says. "I wondered what the education situation nationwide was. How many teachers like Dai Hongying were sticking to their posts? What's the nation's expenditure on education?" “当晚我无法入睡。我想知道全国的教育状况如何,有多少像戴红英这样的老师坚守着岗位,全国的教育投入是多少。”解海龙说。
As soon as Xie returned toBeijing, he went to the library to find out. China was spending about 2 percent of its gross domestic product on education, ranking eleventh from last out of 160 countries worldwide, Xie says. At least 2 million children between 7 and 13 had to drop out of school each year. 一回到北京,解海龙就跑到图书馆查阅资料:中国的教育投入只占GDP 2%左右,在全世界160个国家中排名倒数第11。每年至少有二百万7-13岁的儿童辍学。
"It wasn't because thatChinadidn't value education," Xie notes. "Rather, it was because there were too many areas that needed improvement, and the comprehensive national strength was still quite weak. But people believed education was really excellent." “这并不是因为中国不重视教育,而是因为有太多的地区需要改善,再加上综合国力不够强。相反,人们认为我们的教育状况已经很好了。”

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