The Yunnan Project
Located in southwestern China, the province of Yunnan is approximately 152,084 square miles in size, and is home to almost 50% of China's minorities. However, because of its mountainous terrain, it is also one of the world's most impoverished regions. In many rural villages, the children start working as soon as they can walk and have to strive for daily food, shelter, and other basic necessities, much less a basic education. Although many children want to learn how to read, the scarcity of money and books proves a formidable barrier. Schooling is often carried out in make-shift shelters.
In many rural villages, most children are isolated from the modern world. One child remarked, "I never
knew locomotives or rockets existed until our village leader went into the city and brought back a book for
us." One child describes another child she met,
Yanghua is twelve years old and lives with her grandmother and little sister because both of her
parents died when she was young. Her grandmother is 75, but she still needs to go and work;
what's more, she can not earn enough money for both Yanghua and her brother's education. Thus,
after only half a semester, Yanghua was forced to drop out of school to help her grandmother
make ends meet. When I met her, she was out tending the flock of sheep. I told her, 'Come to school
with me,' but she replied, 'I can't. I have to tend the flock so that my brother can go to school.
Could you please bring a book for me to read?' I nodded my head but I knew I couldn't do it.
Bringing books home is especially hard for us because we only have two books in our school and
those books are very precious because the whole village put together their money to buy them;
now those two books are so worn down and torn.
Due to a variety of factors, the involvement of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China in many areas,
especially in the more mountainous regions, is little to none. Because China has only recently opened its
doors to the world, many of the conditions in the scarcely populated regions are not well known and have
only begun to be revealed. There is often little or no assistance afforded to many regions in desperate need,
and sustenance is at a bare minimum.