Living Compassion: Early Work in Guizhou, China

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Translated by: Andrew Yang

A poor province known for its rugged terrain in southwestern China, Guizhou for a long time has seen many, if not most, of its abled-bodied adults heading off for jobs in far-away places, leaving behind children and elders in their family. For these and other reasons, in this mountainous region are many families not only suffering from poverty and illness, but children with single parents or no parental care, elderly people who have lost spouses, and those stricken by accidents and injuries. More than usual, some of these families find themselves in desperate need of help but may not have the government agencies’ relief services within reach. It is in these circumstances that Living Compassion has risen to the occasion.

Living Compassion, a charity program set up by the International Buddhist Temple for southern China, began serving areas of Guizhou in autumn 2017. By mid-2018, it had been providing financial assistance to 39 students and three families plus one case of emergency aid, totaling $24,500 CAD. In this early stage of our work for the region, we are still recruiting volunteers and for the time being, only one enthusiastic teacher has been able to join us. Her name is Song. This one volunteer, however, has been involved in several touching stories already.

During the summer vacation, Song, our teacher volunteer, worked tirelessly visiting all the children and families receiving aid, to share with us this report:

Chen Tao, a single-parent kid, received student financial aid from Living Compassion last year to help cure his sickness. Following his treatment, he achieved a seventh top score among the over 1,000 students of the school, and went on to Grade Eight with a total score ranking the third best overall, which also won him a scholarship. Tao wrote a thank-you letter to Venerable Shan Ci, who oversees the Living Compassion project,

“Your financial support has given me huge motivation. I will study hard, strive to become a person useful to society and live up to your expectations. Your help, as if giving me a charcoal fire in the snow, is essential to my family. With your generous support I will be able to complete my studies, reduce my mother’s financial burden and drive forward. Like you, I pledge to dedicate the rest of my life to paying back, so more children from disadvantaged families may feel warmth and love.”

Having lost both parents, little Yang Peng and her four older siblings have their grandparents nurturing and caring for them. As Grandma is sick all the year round, the family’s livelihood depends solely on their ageing Grandpa, who scrapes enough income for a living for them all by doing as many odd jobs as he could. When Living Compassion visited last year, we learned that Yu, Peng’s elder sister, was in high school achieving excellent grades, thus academically capable of going on to university. During her summer vacation she worked in a small restaurant to earn money and help the family. Sensitive and understanding, in fact all the children help their grandparents grow vegetables and do housework. After our initial home visit, we decided to provide funding for Yu’s prospective university studies. In our recent visit, we learned that she is indeed doing an accounting major at Guizhou Business College, and little Peng has gone on to Grade Seven in junior high.

Feng Huahua was born into a very unfortunate family too. In early years Grandpa had a fatal car accident causing two deaths. Compensation cost all their family fortune, and everyone was shaken. Her father, born with epilepsy, has not been able to work for a living. Seeing life was so tough, her mother, after giving birth to the last of her four children, walked out on them and has not been heard from in the ten years since. Huahua’s grandparents were often in tears as the four siblings went to school feeling helpless.

Since Living Compassion began to assist them with funding for the four kids’ tuition and room and board, it has rekindled hope for the desperate family. With our return visit, we learned that our help has greatly motivated the kids to work hard at school. In one semester, Huahua received a third-place prize in the final exam, and was named an outstanding student leader. Chaoping performed well in a Taiji competition and was chosen to be an Exercise Leader. She also got an Excellence Award for her other extracurricular activities. Liangliang was named an Excellent Young Pioneer in the school year and achieved first place in the final exam. And Minmin was placed sixth for girls in Renhuai City Youth Table Tennis Competition. In talking to us, they have all exhibited much greater confidence in their future.

Student Wang Wei’s father died of illness two years ago leaving behind debts for the family to pay off. He and his sister, together with their elderly grandparents, for all that, relied on their mother’s meagre wages alone, and were barely able to get by. Last year, Living Compassion decided to help the two siblings. In the last mid-term exam Wei came in sixth in his class. Here is part of what he wrote us,

“First of all, please allow me to thank you for the kind deeds of Living Compassion. With your help, I am now better able to study, so I can calm down and learn, and tutor my sister as well. In future I want to work even harder so I can help more people when I grow up and continue the good deeds of Living Compassion. Thank you to all the uncles and aunts at Living Compassion for their love and kindness to my family! Words cannot express my gratitude but action will be my best thanks to you.”

Zhang Yingli and her younger brother have also received aid from Living Compassion. Life for the family is hard and, with their parents and an older brother all physically disabled, they have been in the care of their aunt. Last year, their aunt’s daughter, Wang Qin, was diagnosed with uremia and needed urgent dialysis. When Living Compassion received an emergency assistance report from the teacher volunteer Song, it immediately approved $6,000 CAD for her initial treatment. Later, Venerable Guan Cheng further assured the family that if a suitable kidney donor was available, we would be willing to cover the transplant expense. Unfortunately, it has been a year now and a donor is yet to be found. However, Yingli and her brother’s academic performance is improving, and their cousin’s condition has stabilized.

As our teacher volunteer Song says, “Living Compassion is reviving all these desperate families by bringing them hope. We hope that any sense of appreciation they might feel will inspire the children to study well and forge ahead in their life.” Of course, owing to a lack of suitable volunteers joining, Living Compassion’s work in Guizhou has been a little slow for now. In order to help more destitute kids and families there, we are calling on more kind-hearted people to join us in this worthy cause, which has proven to be much needed in Guizhou and elsewhere in China.

 

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Established in early 2017, Living Compassion is a wholly-owned charity of the International Buddhism Temple. Aiming at poverty reduction, student aid and emergency relief, Living Compassion assists children and families in need, including orphans, children without parental care, elderly widows and widowers and the disabled particularly in southern China.

 

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