Rural Development Projects in China

China's rural villages have remained basically the same for generations. Villagers are poor . . . without clean water . . . without medical clinics . . . with deteriorating primary schools . . . and with few books for the children to read.

The villagers are too poor to help themselves. BUT the Amity Foundation has discovered that there are funds that can be tapped in China to transform these villages. The bottleneck is that the villagers cannot raise the 10 percent needed to activate these funds. So, China Connection raises the amount that the villagers cannot - from 5 to 10 percent of the total project funds. The result is amazing! Healthier bodies and minds. And a large increase in village income in the first six months. We meet with Christians in each village and discover that the church there usually grows within the first year.


Transforming an Entire Village: Most villages in China run about 2,500-3,000 people. When we transform a village, we change five crucial elements by:

· Bringing the first clean, running water to the villagers' front doors;
· Constructing a medical clinic and stocking it with medicines;
· Building a new primary school;
· Creating a children's lending library stocked full of colorful books;
· Putting poor children back into school.

Transforming a village runs us about $20,000 and serves upwards of 2,500 people. That's just $8 per villager, including paying school fees of $25 for those children whose parents are too poor to pay. Villagers pay their share by constructing the well-house, the clinic and the school buildings, also laying underground pipes to each home.

One person does not necessarily need to complete the whole village. We can pool our resources by taking smaller bites of the large chunk. Here is a break-down of the costs:


1. Bringing Clean Water Wells: China Connection has worked in mountainous Shandong Province and extensively in northern Jiangsu Province, bringing the first drops of clean water (often clean running water piped to each home.) We have done this in about 40 poor villages, to benefit about 250,000 people.


Each well costs $3,800 to drill down 300 feet to a clean underground supply. Water is tested for purity at this time and again before the well is capped securely. Villagers dig trenches and lay plastic pipe from the well-house to each home. Villagers then elect a well-caretaker to manage and maintain the well's condition. Average cost for a clean running water supply for the village runs below $2 per person.


The result is that village health improves immediately, as most diseases are water-borne. Village income generally goes up 50 percent in just the first few months.


2. Constructing/Stocking a Medical Clinic: Many villages have never had a medical clinic; many others have clinics in terrible repair. But when a new clinic is built and stocked (with a mixture of western and eastern medicines), the government is pleased to send a doctor and a pharmacist to the village.


Each clinic costs about $3,800 to construct and stock with medicines.


3. Building a New Primary School: This is the major expenditure in a village. Primary school children tend to number 7,000-1,000 in a village, with some coming from the next village. School buildings generally are in terrible repair, having been used hard by lots of children for many years. We generally start over. And this time we add electricity so that little boys and girls can see what they are doing.


Primary Schools usually run around $11,000 to build. And they will be well used and cared for. They become the prized symbol of the community.


4. Creating/Stocking a Lending Library: Here's a winner! Until we come, rural children have never had any books to read other than their textbooks. But China publishes colorful and informative books appealing to children at a low price. Amity staff makes the book selection.


For $1,200 you can make lots of these books available in a library room where children "soak up knowledge like sponges."


5. Returning Poor Children to School: Life in the rural areas is hard with farmers working
from sunup to sundown. When the floods don't come -- and the good rains do come -- most families have little problem paying for their children's yearly school fees of $25. But sometimes there is illness or mental instability or disabling diseases that make it impossible for parents to pay school fees. In this case, their children are left out - left behind.


For only $25 you can put a poor child back into school for a whole year to learn to read and write and think about the great ideas of the world. What a bargain! And this is in everyone's best interest!



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