Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Dec 02nd
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Home Our Missions Mission of Charity Hopen in the Karst Hills - Help from the outside world

Hopen in the Karst Hills - Help from the outside world

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Hopen in the Karst Hills
The few who have escaped
A reunion
Working so hard for so little
Help from the outside world
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Help from the outside world
Pingyan doesn’t have a high school of its own. It has seven schools with a total enrollment of 1,118 students in elementary schools and about 400 in middle schools. If history is any guide, each year only about 20 of those 400 students will be able to attend high school out of town. Local residents certainly hope that their children can get a good education, but instead children are being taken out of school because some families do not have the means to pay the expenses while other families may simply need more hands to tend their crops. Parents often take their children out in the middle of a semester without giving any notice to the school.

Huang Da-feng, the wife of Tang Rong-li and a teacher at the school, grew up poor in Pingyan, just like most children in her class. She experienced firsthand the agony that a family endures in trying to come up with tuition money for their children. When she was a schoolgirl, her parents often had to pay her tuition in installments. Now when a child stops coming to school, she can really empathize with the family. She knows that the family has the will, but not always the means, to keep their children in school. They are just too poor.

To minimize student dropouts, Huang makes frequent visits to students’ homes. She gets to know each student’s family members, how they are doing, what difficulties the family has that might lead to a dropout, and what she can do to help avert it. The home visits can be heartrending for Huang. As often as she has witnessed (and experienced) the suffering in the village, she can’t help but feel saddened. It is impossible to get used to seeing people suffer.

The scholarships provided by Tzu Chi have helped those who have been identified as in need. However, there are many more students--perhaps "under stones unturned"--to be helped and many more dropouts to be brought back.

Late at night, Tang Rong-li makes his daily patrol of the campus and checks on the students in the dormitory. He often gets emotional as he makes his rounds, wondering why this land that he loves so dearly keeps giving the children and the families such a hard time. He should know. He was once a struggling child himself. He knows what it takes--sometimes more than personal desire--to overcome the challenges stacked up as high as the surrounding karst hills. He frequently cheers his students on: "Poverty is not the fate of a resident of Guizhou. We must have the confidence that we can beat the dreadful conditions, transcend the stony hills, and go outside to learn. Then we come back to make this a better hometown tomorrow."

By Guo Shu-hong
Translated by Tang Yau-yang
Photographs by Hsiao Yiu-Hwa


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