MBL Books For Kids Project – Donation Day Report
MBL Books For Kids Project – Donation Day Report
On the 20th September, MBL volunteers had set for the town of Lianyungang to donate materials as part of its ongoing “Book For Kids” Project. 22 volunteers traveled, to stay for two days at the town of Lianyungang. They took with them a large of number of books and products to help the children’s education in the town.
The volunteers then went to the TuHe village to meet the young beneficiaries of the donations and to engage with them on a personal level. The two days were a magnificent success!
All in all, MBL volunteers had brought with them…
- 2580 Books
- 18 Library desks and sets of matching chairs
- 6 Custom bookcases
- 8 Heaters
- Maps, globes and sound systems
This would the first in many events that will bring the Book For Kids Project alive for the poor villages in China. MBL were able to make a great impact and help change these children’s lives. The successes will continue!
Below are the experiences and insights by three of MBL’s Western volunteers who had assisted on the Donation Day. They are Valentina from Italy, Aurore from France and Annabel from the UK. All three had helped MBL tremendously and had learned much from the day. Their experiences will highlight the importance of MBL’s Book for Kids Project.
Editor – Sheak-Asif Hussain 胡风夫
What MBL volunteers say…(from Annabel Lawrence, Aurore Bois, and Valentina Rigoni)
I can’t believe that I am writing this on my penultimate day in Nanjing. From the get-go this has been one of the most stimulating and formative experiences I have ever had! I leave with no doubt that this is just the beginning of what will come to be many more encounters between myself and the dedicated team here at MBL.
I arrived in China three weeks ago and spent my first week in Shanghai teaching at Wellington College International. This was my first time in the bubbling metropolis and it didn’t fail to impress! Waiting to watch the sun set over the city at 474m high from the infamous ‘bottle top’, shopping in various silk markets and eating a multitude of street foods were just some of my favorite moments.
After Shanghai, I took the bullet train to Nanjing where I was to spend 2 weeks volunteering with MBL. This superfast train travels faster than 300 km/h; I wish trains in the UK would travel this quickly!
During my time with MBL I was involved in a variety of different activities. Without a doubt, my personal highlight of this trip was working with MBL’s ‘Books for Kids’ project. On this day, along with Frank and his MBL team, I visited a primary school here in Nanjing who have been collecting donations for the project which we were to take at the weekend to Lianyungang. It was fascinating for me to see the differences between primary schools here in the China and back in the UK; the class sizes were so big and the children were so well behaved!
在南京，我参与了很多MBL的活动。毫无疑问，让我感受最深的是参与了“BOOKS FOR KIDS”项目中的一些活动。这也是我这次来华体验的最大亮点。周二，我和Frank Pan以及MBL中国团队访问了南京的一所小学，这所小学为连云港的贫困学校募捐书籍。周末去贫困的乡村，把书给哪里的孩子们。这对我来说是非常有意义的，让我看到了中国学校的差异，以及班级规模和英国的极大差异，但是中国的学生表现非常出色！
It wasn’t until the following Sunday though, that I truly realized the true necessity of the B4K project. At 6:30am I, along with 29 MBL volunteers, started to load the bus with heating supplies, stereos, desks，bookcase，atlases and over 2500 books that were going to travel the 300km with us to Lianyungang.
Upon arrival, I was struck by how different this little rural school was from the primary school I had visited earlier in the week; there was no athletics track nor calligraphy room, no gardens nor ponds. The playground consisted of two broken basketball nets, the classrooms housed wooden desks and chairs which for the most part were broken, the two dormitories each 45 meters squared，each housing 40 children, one for girls and one for boys. Liners made of bamboo were used in lieu of mattresses and there were often three children sleeping on a single bunk. The importance of what we could achieve if we were to give these children books became very apparent to me.
However, It’s no use having books but nowhere to put them! So, we built a library; we built bookshelves, tables and chairs so as to make our new library as best a learning environment as possible. As someone who has never even built IKEA flatpack furniture this was quite a challenge! By the end of Sunday evening we had build libraries in both the schools we were visiting. We filled them full of the books from MBL donations and donned the walls with posters. It was then time to get some rest before meeting the children who would use our library the following day
On Monday we returned to the school for their flag raising ceremony in which the principal thanked MBL for all their time and effort and in which Frank encouraged the children to use their new books to further their own education. This flag raising ceremony was a new experience for me; watching over 600 children marching in step and saluting perfectly in time was quite a sight! I was then asked to teach an English lesson to 60 8 year-olds. They picked up the new material very quickly and the whole lesson was incredibly rewarding. The two days in Lianyungang emphasized to me the huge disparity in educational opportunities in China and the tremendous amount of work that still needs to go into overcoming this gap.
The rest of the time I have spent in Nanjing has either been working in the MBL offices where I have helped to make English podcasts, teaching a new word or phrase every day, or touring the beautiful sights this city has to see.
I have spent two days at Ningxin disability home where I taught the children English nursery rhythms and sat in on their lessons. I also spend a day at a children’s orphanage with an Australian family whose adopted daughter comes from Nanjing. It was the first time she had returned to China since being adopted at the age of 3 and it was the first time she met the family who fostered her until her adoption. My day in the orphanage opened up my eyes to some of the social problems facing china as well as highlighting the importance of MBL’s aim to reunite birth and adoptive cultures.
我花了两天的时间在宁馨残疾人中心帮助工作。我给他们上英语课，唱儿歌，打节奏，做活动。我还花了一天的时间，与一个来自澳大利亚的家庭一起参观了孤儿院，这是他们养女之前的家，来自南京孤儿院。这是他们养女3岁被领养之后，第一次回到中国。我在孤儿院里，看见了中国面临的社会问题，体会到MBL BOOK FOR KIDS项目中的生养文化、寻根团聚的重要性和迫切性！
Throughout my time in Nanjing, I have been made to feel so welcome. I would like to thank Tinting and her family for hosting me throughout my stay, for the most amazing array of breakfasts I have ever seen and for bearing with me when I didn’t understand what was going on!
Thank you to the MBL volunteers who made our trip to Lianyungang such a success, thank you to Jenny for being such a wonderful tour guide, thank you to everybody who works in the MBL office for being so kind, generous and feeding me with so much fruit! I have loved my time with you.
Thank you to Julie and Xiao Li for helping me to organize this entire trip, without you both this would not have been possible, and finally, thank you Frank. For showing me the real China, for explaining many intricacies of Chinese cultures, for our stimulating evening conversations on Chinese society, for taking me to eat in the most amazing local places and for showing me how much you believe in the work MBL does, thank you.
MBL’s unwavering determination to improve the educational opportunities for poor Chinese children as well as your desire to teach more children English is inspiring. I leave Nanjing in the hope that I too, through working with MBL, will be able to make a difference to the lives of these children. MBL’s work is truly amazing, thank you for letting me be a part of it.
Since I was a child, my parents would read stories to me every evening after the dinner and before sleeping. My two sisters and I always cherished those moments. We fought for having a better look of the images printed on the book so not to miss any part of the ‘holy story. Maybe that’s why even still now, I can’t sleep before reading at least one page of a book. From this habit I’ve learned so much from books. including the Chinese language!. I strongly believe books can help people to be better educated, open minded, helping us to understand other people and the world around us.
Two years ago, I discovered the charity Mothers Bridge of Love. I’m so happy to be engaged as a volunteer because I want to improve the bridge between Chinese and Western culture. Here in China, Mother’s Bridge of Love has helped me so much, it’s like another family for me.
I took part in the amazing project called ‘Books for Kids’. First, we packed around 900 books in one week in MBL’s office. Then, with MBL’s other volunteers we went to the poor countryside area for two days. I got the impression that we were to enter into the ‘real’ China. Not the China with a lot of light and nightclubs, but the China who are struggling to get out the poverty. I really loved the way we were greeted to the village: a red banniere on the main door to welcome us!
On Sunday, we arrived at two different schools and helped to build libraries there. It was very interesting for me to see the dormitory where kids sleep without even a mattress. Likewise I liked to watch the playgrounds where I tried to figure out what kind of games the children played.
Then on Monday I taught an English class to the children with my colleague, Valentina. I was struck by the fact that there were so many children in the class. And also that their English level was so good, perhaps even better than French children at the same age!
I asked the children to read a text after me and they all shouted the English words with such a great clarity! Though, when I asked a little girl a question she was so shy that even though I was beside her it was difficult to hear her! The difference of the voice intensity between when they are in a group and when alone in front of everybody struck me a lot. The children need more confidence boosting because they have a great talent that has to nurtured.
Of course, it’s always difficult to measure the real impact of what we’ve done to the two schools. It’s as Xinran said, we are all only a drop of water to China’s great ocean! However, I’m firmly convinced that what we’ve done was really important not only for these children but for the whole China.
I know the children will enjoy reading these books. I hope these books will allow them to increase their latent abilities and reach their dreams! Maybe they will event fight each other to read the Harry Potter books first!
I once read a story about a lady who liked returning starfish back into the ocean from a beach that had many of them stranded. A man arrived and asked her why she was doing that. He said her actions were useless because she will not be able to put all the starfish into the sea again. And the lady replied that it does not matter whether it is useful or useless but that the difference is made in the starfish that could continue on living, that was enough. Volunteering in this project was exactly like that.
I am Valentina, an Italian MBLer who is currently living in Suzhou, China. I joined MBL four years ago after I found into “Good Women of China”, one of Xinran’s outstanding reportages on Chinese culture. After living in London for five years I decided to experience China myself, therefore I now reside in Suzhou, working and studying Mandarin. It has been an amazing life-changing experience so far.
On September 20th and 21st I took part in an amazing project with MBL’s Nanjing office, aimed at donating educational material to two schools located at a village in the countryside of Lianyungang, five hours outside of Nanjing. “Books for Kids” is the project by which the MBL group delivered school material, such as desks and bookshelves, and kids’ books to children in the Tuhe village. After setting up the libraries on Sunday 20th, we assisted at the inauguration ceremony, which took place on Monday 21st. The ceremony featured speeches from the schools’ representatives as well as from MBL’s coordinators. Afterwards, an English class took place, where I had the opportunity to interact with the students. Following lunch with the schools’ staff we departed from the village and made our way back to Nanjing.
This opportunity was a great lesson for me. Not only did I have the chance to see new places, completely different from the city of Suzhou that I am used to, but I was also able to face a different reality. Those kids and teachers face a daily struggle to further their educational level, learning with the right quality of material. However this didn’t strike me as much as the fullness of enthusiasm from the children when it came to taking part in the English class.
What I saw in those schools made me realise that, after all, there are still things that can’t be bought or fabricated, such as the passion and interest that drives you to achieve your goals or your passions. What we gave to those children are just the tools to achieve their goals, but they already possess the fundamental ones, curiosity, fervour and eagerness to succeed.
I consider myself a really lucky person, because I have been given the opportunity to experience a different reality from my daily life. It taught me something that will stay with me for a long time. I wish to thank MBL for that, because thanks to all the MBLers involved this project was successfully delivered.