For students in an isolated village school in Shanxi Province's Jingle County, North China, this year's International Children's Day on June 1 was unforgettable.
The village was inundated with donated goods such as books, stationery and canned meat from Shanghai, which were distributed to them to celebrate the day, according to Shanghai-based news website www.xmnext.com.
Shen Yin teaches children in a classroom in Soupo Village, Jingle County.
The goods were donated by Shanghai residents responding to an appeal by Shen Yin, a female volunteer who gave up a well-paid job to teach in the poverty-stricken village.
The 27-year-old grew up in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, and got her master's degree in the United Kingdom. She worked as an administrative director for a foreign-funded company when she returned to China, earning about 10,000 yuan (US$1,282) a month.
Shen initiated a "Happy Box" charity program during her time at the company, which fined any employee for being late or leaving early. The money went to the Happy Box and was used to support poor students.
The China Youth League Central Committee launched a volunteers' project last August to assist poor areas, calling on young people to become volunteer teachers in isolated villages for a year. Shen applied and was sent to Soupo village in Jingle County in September last year.
Soupo is 15 kms away from any services in Jingle County and is short of supplies due to its isolation and lack of transport. Half of the households in the village still dwell in caves as their ancestors did.
Shen and other volunteers have a hard life in the village. There is no rice and vegetables, nor is there any meat. They live on noodles and millet porridge cooked without oil or seasoning. They take long-distance buses once a fortnight to the county to take a shower, due to the shortage of water.
Despite these difficulties, Shen and her fellow volunteers said they would not consider giving up. They have devoted themselves to the students in the village and hope to bring practical but significant help to them.
Shen teaches English in the school, giving all the students in her classes English names. She records every minor achievement they make and rewards them with notebooks and pens. Shen purchases the items with her personal savings as she does not receive any money for her work in the village.
In return, her students reward their teacher by applying themselves to study. Half of Shen's students scored full marks in a county-level English examination recently.
Shen has also brought music to the lives of her students. The school had no music program until she bought an electronic piano and began teaching the students, including how to sing modern pop songs.
"In contrast to the poverty problems, I now feel rich in spirit. By helping the poor students in this village and becoming their friend I feel respected and needed," she said.
(China Daily June 8, 2007)