Words from the President
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After the hectic groundwork generated by all the board members and volunteers in the last six months, the Peach Foundation was at last properly registered on September 10, 2001.
Choosing Yunnan (雲南) province as the initial focal point, the Foundation concentrates on aiding underprivileged children from four regions in this province: Yuanyang (元陽), Eryuan（洱源）, Yangbi (漾濞), and Taian (太安). Last March seventy students belonging to four schools in these regions received the first round of scholarships. Also, micro-libraries scattered in thirty-seven schools are gradually being established. Upon observing the preliminary accomplishment by the Foundation, I on behalf of board members and all the benefited children, would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all the donors, sponsors, mentors and hard-working volunteers. The toil and coordinated effort by all the aforementioned people have brought about a good beginning and promising perspectives. The underpinning work completed by our foundation colleagues in the past couple of months has contributed to this achievement. Along the way we shared hardship as well as joy. Witnessing these children entering their dream schools is a great comfort for me, as I am sure it is for you.
This year’s target for the Foundation is to aid 200 students and to establish 100 micro-libraries. From these four bases in Yunnan, the Foundation will gradually expand to the neighboring prefectures and villages to assist more children deprived of schooling and to realize our long-term goals. In addition, the Foundation will vigorously urge the local medical organizations to dispatch doctors who will conduct physical checkups for these school children.
The Peach Foundation is built upon love, powered by enthusiasm, managed with sincerity, governed with care, and administered with perseverance. Let us work side by side to support more children.
Like the fire-starters, we look forward to proliferating from the four bases in Yunnan and set the prairies ablaze with hope.
Peach Foundation Activities
12/24/2001 to 1/16/2002 Convening with Annli Zhao (Director of Peach Foundation Taiwan), President Ruth Jeng headed the first survey group in Yunnan, conducted field evaluation of schools and students in these four areas.
1/30/2002 Peach Foundation Taiwan Branch was officially launched, headquartered in Shinzhu.
2/2/2002 Photo exhibit was held at the Peach Foundation’s headquarter and a fund raising sale was conducted. President Ruth Jeng responded an invitation from Tunghai University Alumni Association by giving a speech in its annual meeting.
2/16/2002 To publicize Peach Foundation, a photo exhibit was held at the annual meeting of Zhengzhi University Alumni Association.
2/21/2002 Bingqing Huang, reporter of Shingdao Daily News, interviewed President Ruth Jeng.
3/2/2002 Director of Peach Foundation Canada Branch, Cailien Qiu paid a visit to U.S.
3/16/2002 Foundation brochures were distributed at the annual meeting of Mount Jade Association.
3/24/2002 Photo exhibit was held at the concert of Yu Han and Yungcai Li.
3/16/2002 Foundation brochures were distributed at the show of FeiYang Variety Troupe.
4/6/2002 President Ruth Jeng flew to New York, was interviewed by local media, and initiated the plan to set up a U.S. East Chapter.
4/20/2002 Photo exhibit was held at the annual meeting of Fu Jeng University Alumni Association.
4/26-28/2002 Photo exhibit was held at the New Age Expo where brochures were distributed.
5/5/2002 President Ruth Jeng gave a speech at the meeting of Taipei Second Girl School’s Alumni Association. There was also a photo exhibit.
5/11/2002 President Ruth Jeng gave a speech at the meeting of Zhengzhi University Alumni Association and exhibited photos.
5/18/2002 Photo exhibit was held at the garden party of Taiwan Compatriots Club and brochures were distributed.
6/21/-7/15/2002 Second survey group traveled to Yunnan for field evaluation.
6/23/2002 Photo exhibit was held at the concert by Guoxung Ding and Yanyun Lin, brochures were distributed.
6/21/-7/15/2002 Second survey group will travel to Yunnan for field evaluation.
6/23/2002 Photo exhibit will be held at the concert by Guoxung Ding and Yanyun Lin, brochures will be distributed.
The Challenges of Peach Foundation
At the present time, the Peach Foundation confronts the following hurdles:
The majority of the scholarship applicants with excellent academic standing are from poor families. Due to Foundation’s inadequate funding, we cannot accommodate 100% of all the qualified students. We have to hold back and place some of the qualified applicants on the waiting list.
Some qualified applicants were forced to discontinue schooling in order to aid in their families’ livelihood. The Foundation can only watch powerlessly.
We need more volunteers to cover the surveys in these four areas. This need will only increase as we expand our operation.
With the expansion of aid operation comes the increasing need in management. We call for more volunteers to alleviate the administrative workload.
We need more promotion and publicity to spread the aspiration of our emergent Foundation.
The Yunnan Voyage
The children of the poor rural families in China’s impoverished regions lead very harsh lives. It is difficult for one to envision this without witnessing it with one’s own eyes. Let me summarize the daily lives of these children in Yunnan countryside. Most of these children live quite far away from the schools they attend. A three to four hour roundtrip is considered short. Some live a day’s journey from their schools. Consequently, all students board in schools. Many children can only go back to their homes once or twice per semester. At the beginning of the semester, they bring along their living expenses. Some have to lug a bag of rice to be exchanged for cash in the nearby township. Meals are purchased in schools. Usually the cooked rice (twenty cents per bowl) is consumed only accompanied by salty, fermented soybeans, a common staple in the Yunnan minority region. Can you imagine sustaining life without fruits and vegetables? It is utterly beyond my comprehension. But they have to endure it. I have seen children in Sichuan, Hubei provinces bring pickled vegetables to be eaten with rice at school. Some children with homes nearby can commute once a week. Ronghwa Wang is one of these kids. She carries a tiny sack of rice and one bottle of pickled vegetables to school. At school the rice is cooked and the pickled vegetables is the only meal condiment for the whole week. Under these circumstances, they can keep off hunger but are definitely malnourished.
Many schools require students to wear uniforms, which costs a considerable amount of money. By name, the obligatory nine-year elementary education in China is free of tuition charge; however, the expense of the uniform is one of the various forms of fees forced upon these children.
I have visited the home of many children. The so-called homes are only bordered spaces devoid of rain and wind. The whole family carries on their daily routines within this narrow space that is usually no bigger than 200 square feet. This tiny space serves as bedroom, kitchen, eating area, living room and storage.
In the backward mountain region, children can only count on their two legs as their method of transportation. It is common for them to spend a couple of hours going home on foot. There are rarely any cars on the roads, not to mention a bus. Even with public transportation available in some neighborhood, the children will not spare any money on bus fare. In Taian village, the Party Secretary obtained a four-wheel drive vehicle for my ten-kilometer ride. It took one hour for this trip! If it were not for the front seat bar to which I grasped for stability, I would have been bounced out of the vehicle on the rocky mountain roads.
There are no televisions, no extracurricular books at home. I asked what they do for fun. The answer is to help their mothers tending the vegetable fields. This is the only form of entertainment which they know.
recapped from the speech given by Ruth Jeng 4/11/02 in New York