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Detecting heart defects in Kunming schoolchildren

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Today GoKunming traveled to a northern Kunming school with 15 volunteers. We spent the day giving art lessons to 400 elementary and middle school students while doctors and their assistants administered heart examinations.

Dexin Jiaoyu (德馨教育) provides free schooling for children of migrant parents who do not have official Kunming residential registration, or hukou (户口). Families without proper registration often have difficulties finding housing, healthcare or access to education once they move from their villages to the city.

Li Zhixiang (李志祥), a former Chinese national Sanda (散打) champion, founded Dexin Jiaoyu with children from families like these in mind.

The school runs on donations from individuals, clubs and corporations. Some of the food for lunches is grown on site while the rest is given to the school by local charity organizations. Many students also return home between classes for meals.

The school has a computer lab with 20 new computers donated by the Kunming Chess Association and Standard Chartered Bank. Li believes Dexin Jiaoyu is the only wholly donation-based school in Yunnan.

The training, equipment and volunteers for the heart exams were provided by China California Heart Watch (China Cal), a non-governmental organization (NGO) specializing in diagnosing and treating heart ailments in Yunnan.

China Cal was established by Dr Robert Detrano after a 2005 trip to Yunnan. The NGO has examined thousands of children around the province and identified 120 with life-threatening heart defects. These children have all been provided with free corrective surgeries.

Once a child with a heart defect is identified, China Cal doctors schedule more tests and then find funding for those children who need surgery. No children at Dexin Jiaoyu were found to have any serious heart issues.

Unlike most Western countries, where heart examinations are conducted shortly after birth, rural Chinese newborns often receive no cardiac screenings. Congenital defects can sometimes lead to cardiac arrest, even in young children.

The day's screenings and art projects were organized by Village Progress and China Cal. The two NGOs plan a larger joint effort of the same kind in Lincang in October of this year.

Dexin Jiaoyu accepts donations including money, food, clothing and school supplies. School administrators can be contacted by calling 13888249643 or contacting them at 842377506 [at] qq [dot] com. Donations to Village Progress can be made via their website or in person at A Ling Crafts.

Images: Yereth Jansen

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Great article. Thank you GoK. I'm intrigued about the Kunming Chess Association. I presume it's Chinese Chess? Anyone know anything about it?


it's international chess. In fact they have built an entire school with all curriculum associated with chess. It's a strange but interesting experimental school. Village progress is working with them on getting computers for schools in lincang, though for more than just chess

Thank you Colin. Fascinating.


Thank you Go Kunming for covering this worthy cause, any support for the school or Village Progress is well used. The pictures really tell the story, someone must have a good camera!

Like + bump. Good one.

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