They exist in every Chinese city, whether they are noticed or not. Pockets of poverty often literally overshadowed by high-rise apartments or gleaming office blocks. They are called 'urban villages' in Chinese (城中村), and are often home to the enormous tide of 240 million internal migrants referred to as the Middle Kingdom's 'floating population'.
The people living in neighborhoods of this type comprise much of the country's metropolitan poverty demographic. Like many urban villages, Kunming's Luozhangcun (罗丈村) lacks basic necessities such as reliable internal plumbing and a consistent supply of electricity.
Many of the children who call this place home have rural household registrations, or hukou (户口). As their parents originally hail from the Yunnan countryside, the kids are ineligible to attend public kindergartens and primary schools. There are groups working to help kids in this situation, and one of them is Global Village Kindergarten (地球村幼儿园).
Global Village is a private entity, and can therefore admit children with rural hukou at prices commensurate with those of subsidized public kindergartens. The school's main goal is to provide low income kids living in Luozhangcun — many of whose parents are illiterate — a chance to break the cycle of poverty through early education opportunities.
The school, however, is showing some serious signs of wear and tear. In an effort to help out, a group of locals and foreigners will be repainting and refurbishing Global Village's 40 classrooms over the Spring Festival holiday, which for schoolchildren stretches through most of February this year. We'll be working to breathe new life into the building so that when the Luozhangcun kids come back from break, the school will look and feel as refreshed and energized as the students.
How to help
Kunming Rotary Club and Global Village have organized two clean-up and renovation periods, one February 10-11, and the other February 24-25. Work will begin at 9am each day and wrap up around 4pm. People who can volunteer their time on all or some of these dates are enthusiastically welcome. During both sessions we will be cleaning-up, painting walls, repairing or replacing blackboards and magnetic boards and creating age-appropriate murals for each classroom. Coffee, cake and conversation will be provided!
A registered foundation is planning to begin a hygiene project in Luozhangcun in the future and our February project will help build credibility and assist Global Village Kindergarten as they attempt to help some of Kunming's poorer children. We need your help!
To make this project a success, we're asking for good, old-fashioned, on-the-spot volunteers who are willing to get a bit dirty in the name of a great cause. This may be a small project, but it will have a great impact on local schoolchildren. Chinese law now prohibits the solicitation of donations for specific causes by foreign entities and NGOs, so elbow grease and effort are the name of the game.
For more information, directions to the school or to sign up, please contact Jenny (who speaks both English and Chinese) by calling 19887094055. We look forward to seeing you there in February. Thanks Kunming!
Images: Global Village Kindergarten© Copyright 2005-2018 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.