MBL volunteers deliver books to rural schools in Lianyungang
Early in the morning of 20th September, 2015, 35 MBL volunteers began to load up a bus with heating supplies, stereos, atlases and over 2500 books in order to travel 300km to Lianyungang. It would be here, in two rural primary schools that we would build libraries and deliver books that had been donated to MBL through their ‘Books for Kids’ Program.
Upon arrival the impoverished conditions in which these children live became all too apparent. Unlike a primary school in Nanjing we 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 contained 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. Many of the children live too far away to commute on a daily basis.
After lunch we began to unload our bus and to begin building equipment for the library. All the volunteers, no matter what age, worked together to build tables, chairs and bookshelves. When this was done we split into 2 groups; the first group stayed at Da Quan School to put the books on the shelves and pin up the posters whilst the second group went to Hai ning primary school to begin the process there. By the end of Sunday we had successfully build two libraries, brimming with books of all genres and varieties.
Monday morning we returned to Da Quan primary school for their flag raising ceremony, similar to morning assembly. There were short speeches from the Principal of Da Quan thanking MBL for their donations, from Frank of behalf of MBL encouraging the children to use their new facilities and from the students and principal of a You Fu Xi Jie, a primary school in Nanjing who had donated over 800 books.
Once again, we split into two groups with one staying at Da Quan and the other going over to Hai Ning. In both schools, our Western MBL volunteers gave an English lesson. Both classes had roughly 60 students which is over double the average class size in the UK. The children in both schools were so eager to learn the new material and loved learning English games which ranged from ‘Bingo’ to ‘snap’ and many more in-between. Towards the end of both lessons, we read the children a story book carefully explaining the words they didn’t understand. This activity in particular seemed to grab the student’s attention and demonstrated how much one can learn through reading.
The two days in Lianyungang emphasizes the huge disparity in educational opportunities in China and the tremendous amount of work that still needs to go into overcoming this gap. It also demonstrated the wonderful work MBL is doing to bridge this gap and ensure that every child, no matter what their financial situation is, has access to a better education. Through education there is hope for a better and brighter future, through education we can seek to end the otherwise perpetuating cycle of poverty that still exists in so many parts of china today.
Thank you to all the MBL volunteers for allowing our trip to Lianyungang to be such a tremendous success and thank you to everybody involved in the donations, without your support none of this would have been possible.