Erenlai - NPOs on the Rise 非營利計畫的萌芽
NPOs on the Rise 非營利計畫的萌芽

NPOs on the Rise 非營利計畫的萌芽

Changes in China and the whole of Asia-Pacific are coming from the grassroots. Furthermore, when different Asian NGOs exchange their experiences, even more is happening for the better. Here you will find information about local NGOs and NPOs, and reasons to hope in the future…





Thursday, 20 January 2011



Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Wetlands, education and water schools

Behind the building sites and the mountains half eaten by the mechanical diggers, we discover the large wetlands. Traditional houses, stacked like the teeth on corn on the cob, sit imposingly in the middle of multicolored flowerbeds and amongst huge racks used to dry crops. A bit further on, there is the seasonal lake Napa, now almost dry, refuge of a rare ecosystem and of lots of birds. Wende Gomba sets out in the 4x4 to the Shangri-la Institute. Sitting up on the front passenger seat, a cow-boy hat glued on his head, a sparsely grown moustache and goatee underlining his thin mouth, he turns to us and speaks in fluent English about the wetlands. “The rapid industrialization and urbanization of the area threatens the ecosystem and the livelihood of the surrounding villages. The new hostels and restaurants throw out their waste water directly into the wetlands.” Some time ago, in cooperation with students from several “Water Schools”, they organized a day to clean up the rivers because “it's the only thing that works. Endless debate and just waiting for something to happen would have been fruitless. (...) We also asked the villagers around the lake to participate. It was extremely dirty. We were all covered with black and putrid mud up to our knees. (...) The people of the city do not care at all about this form of activism. They think it's useless. However, having observed the results of the clean up, I feel that the residents are more aware of the need for these kinds of activities.”

The Shangri-La County in Yunnan province is predominantly lama(1). We are on the Tibetan plateau, rich in ecology and culture. From the plateau flow three rivers, one that turns into the Salween that flows on to Myanmar, another becomes the Mekong that irrigates southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and South Vietnam and finally the Yangtze, the longest river in China. UNESCO has declared this area a protected region of nearly two million hectares, where those three rivers flow in parallel from north to south. It is “the richest region of the world in biodiversity and an epicenter of biodiversity in China.”(2)  The lives of millions of people depend on the resources of the plateau. “Demographic pressure and rapid economic development cause an increase in pollution, threatening ecosystems and communities that depend on the Yangtze River for their survival. Current statistics indicate that the Yangtze contributes to nearly 60% of the total pollution in China and is the largest source of marine pollution in the Pacific Ocean.”(3)

But as Gomba reminds us, the development and the maintenance of a society which is sustainable ecologically, economically and socially will work only with the active participation of its citizens. Everything starts at the grassroots level.

Wende Gomba is a hard worker. He is sick of the time, energy and money devoted to the management of large international organizations to the detriment of direct benefit for targeted populations. Thus, enriched by long years of experience within conservation and community development projects, together with some colleagues, he established the “Shangri-la Institute for Sustainable Communities” (SISC), funded by international donors, (香格里拉可持續社區學會).

hist_recyclables_Shangri-La-Institutes-flowery-grassland5 years ago, the Institute launched “community education for sustainable development on the Tibetan plateau”. Nothing is imposed on the villagers; there are long preliminary stage discussions with 80 villages surrounding the lake. Discussions revolve around resources, such as logging, which is a major source of income, but timber is increasingly rare. Timber is used for heating and in construction. With regards to water quality, elders have noticed the extinction of some species ... and the ever growing dependence of villagers on depleted natural resources. Through Community Learning Centers, the Institute wants to strengthen the role of communities in environmental protection, to enrich their cultural heritage and to improve their livelihood. Classes are held on ecotourism, cooking, bird watching, Thangka painting(4), embroidery... Awareness campaigns on renewable energy are regularly organized. People involved in the respective industries that are involved with natural resources and local actors are involved, as well as monasteries, schools, NGOs and government bodies. Thanks to everyone's participation, a few villages have managed to equip themselves with solar water heaters (that save 5 tons of wood per year), as well as biogas technology (2-3 tons of wood)... Gomba explains that gradually the villagers appropriated this initiative for themselves, because they realized the benefits to their own community that would result. They began construction of the Centre of the Institute, independently. As for the satellite Community Centers, these became forums for discussion within the villages. They hold their meetings, ceremonies and festivals with the requisite dances and songs that are so important in their culture. These places and these initiatives managed by the communities are replicable models. This is one of the biggest hopes of the Institute.

Gomba guides us around the Institute. It is surrounded by a large garden full of flowers, where we hear the hum of bees and other bug life. The timber they used was purchased from those who were renovating their houses in town. Rainwater is collected in gutters filling tanks. The water from these tanks is then used for the garden or the shower. In the garden itself, the gutters are made of PVC which may purge water of toxic materials. The showers are made of polyethylene, more expensive, but whose composition is very stable and non-polluting and dry toilets provide compost for the garden. As for shower and kitchen water, it is drained to an infiltration trench. On the ground floor a cozy lounge welcomes members of the Institute, teachers, students and guests. Upstairs is the resource center, a rich library of books in Chinese, Tibetan and English, dealing with the environment, local cultures, painting and religion ... Other rooms are dedicated to Tibetan, English and Thangka classes ... Six rooms can house visiting experts, volunteers and other visitors. Gompa is still working on an intelligent way to heat the house. This is in line with his emphasis on coherence between philosophy and behavior. As well as the need for a replicable model ...

hist_recyclables_Shangri-La-Institutes-libraryThe SISC is also working on children’s education for a living Yangtze. These projects are called “Water Schools” financed by the fantastically wealthy Swarovski Crystal Society. The philosophy of these schools is to teach young children between the ages of eight and thirteen years the importance of water and how to preserve it. They have opened schools in Europe, in Africa along the Nile and in China along the Yangtze River. There are nearly thirty Water Schools along the river including nine in Shangri-la. “Children are not empty vessels to be simply filled” whispers our guide. This initiative creates a platform for children where they can think and understand by themselves, through the innovative and participatory learning practices students engage in during classes, and the field trips they can take part in... Their teachers receive training every two years on the latest water and teaching methods. Student exchanges between schools are regularly undertaken. The Ministry of Education of China is involved in these educational programs and approves their content. Gomba hopes to highlight the participatory nature of the educational schemes, which can easily be replicated elsewhere. The county has also established these special “Water Schools” in monasteries. The monks are trained as teachers. In the monastery, the faithful show so much respect that monks cannot interact with them, thus, holy men participate in meetings and discussions in the Community Centers where everyone feels more comfortable, sitting down to a coffee on the ground floor of the Institute.

We exchanged notes on our respective projects. As Gomba has a rendezvous in a monastery, there is no time to eat lunch together. In silence, we return to the 4 x 4 that brings us back to the old town of Shangri-la. It is hard not to be slightly in awe of this man, both for his project and his tenacity. The strengths of the Institute are the communities that are themselves the guardians of natural resources. We think back to long days during which we saw “Water School” signs hanging here and there, without being able to find their offices. Nobody in town had been able to help us. The impact of the activities of SISC on the living conditions of rural populations and their environment is indisputable. But the sheer amount of tourism in the old town hints at a lengthy combat in years to come.

A special thank to Gomba’s colleagues who welcomes us at the Centre: Suonam Jiangtu and Suolang Gyatso from Lhasa.
Photos by H.R.


(1)Tibetan Buddhist
(2)Source “UNESCO World Heritage”
(3)Source “Water school for a living Yangtze” Swarovski Waterschools
(4)A Thangka is a painting on canvas, a feature of Tibetan culture


Thursday, 08 July 2010

Paper recycling in Luchun, China

Haniland Products/King Fishers

Behind the red door decorated with dragons and lanterns in Luchun alley we’ve discovered a courtyard where ten female workers are set in motion. Outside, multiple sifters are being prepared for filling with some paper grinded to a tee and mixed in great basins; in one room, shelves of already coloured and pressed sheets of paper are on display while drying up; in the next, three women are cutting and gluing postcards while the envelopes themselves are taking form in another pair of agile hands at the entrance of the building. In other words, welcome to the main district of the King Fishers project, today based on the activity of paper recycling, work done by women in difficult situations.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Another China...

Already 5 years of expatriation in Shanghai! When I left my little village in the Provence, I didn’t think I would melt so easily into this megalopolis. Of course the first months had been filled with questions and hesitation but with the passing days and the encounters made, I can say now that I love this country and the mystery that it still possesses to me.

The Miao Mountains
Once, as I participated in a tea-party organized by the French-speaking circle of Shanghai, I had the chance to meet volunteers from the association called “Couleurs de Chine” (Colors of China) which aims to sponsor a school for little girls in the Rongshui district of Guangxi province.

This mountainous region is characterized by its rice terrace fields and plantations of fir trees. In order to subsist, the families also farm pigs, cows, poultry and river carp but many peasants still have barely enough food to live on.

Every day women wear the traditional costume made of a dark blue woven cotton (dyed several times with indigo); the clothes are enhanced with embroideries that are transmitted from one generation to the next, thus carrying on the memory of the Miao people.

The roofs of the wooden houses are covered with black tiles or fir bark panels. One or several wells supply each village with drinkable water. Far from the cities and their racket, days peacefully go by in these secluded hamlets, protected by the surrounding mountains.

The other side of the picture
AUTRE-CHINE---photo-3---Petite-fille-et-son-frereMagical landscapes, smiling faces, melodious chants, sparkling colors… these are the common images of the Guangxi province but behind these clichés, there is also another reality. If you travel more attentively, you might be surprised by the number of old people going around with young children or you’ll see at the bend in the path a little girl carrying on her back her baby brother hardly much younger than her, or this other kid carrying on a yoke heavy baskets full of manure…

In theory, school is free and compulsory but it remains out of reach for many children, so most of the women are illiterate. The incomes of the families do not always allow them to pay school fees and when parents have to choose, they give priority to their sons[1]. Furthermore, only a few schools are left in the countryside because of the government’s policy of recentralizing them.

Gaoliang, a hamlet of 900 inhabitants, counts 124 pupils divided into 4 classes of primary school and 1 kindergarten class. Mr. Pan, a school teacher, explains to us that “Some children have to walk through rice fields and mountains paths three hours everyday to go to school and come back, whatever the weather… but without education, we are worth nothing”. He tell us this while accompanying us to the chief of the village. And the reality of this part of the region is merciless: some ‘touts’ tell peasants’ children that they can work in the textile factories of Guangdong and earn in a month what their parents make in one year; teachers with tenure, graduated from university cannot set up in these remote areas because they do not speak the dialect; some children drop out of school because it is too hard to walk such long distances, sometimes even carrying their siblings on their back; and parents have to live far from their children to find a better job, and so on.

The story of a woman
Fascinated by this ancestral culture, Françoise Grenot-Wang, also called Fang-Fang by the locals, dedicated herself to protecting the traditions. In 1990, she and a few friends created “Couleurs de Chine” whose original aim was to promote in France the culture of ethnic minorities of China. Very rapidly, this purpose took on a humanitarian dimension. In 1998, when Fang-Fang settled in Guangxi, none of the girls were sent to school. In 2001, thanks to the association and to numerous sponsors and donors, 1200 children were sent to school; in 2010 more than 5600 children now benefit from the support of “Couleurs de Chine”.

In December 2008, Françoise was on the eve of leaving for Paris where she had planned to celebrate Christmas with her family, when a fire broke out in her big wooden house. And this fire that she feared so much finally took her away.

Deeply saddened by Fang-Fang’s disappearance, friends, donors and sponsors sent supportive messages from China, France, Indonesia, the US, Australia and Brazil. In her memory and in the name of all the children, the association had to go on.

AUTRE-CHINE---photo-4---Cours-de-recreationDo you believe in miracles?

Marine Vitre, a young French woman, started to work for the association in October 2008 but she didn’t have the chance to know Francoise personally as the accident occurred one week before their meeting. When she was aware of the disaster, she went on-site ahead of schedule. Warmly welcomed by the local authorities and the villagers, Marine has now settled down in Danian. Her enthusiasm has already won the peoples’ hearts and the local authorities also have committed to carry on their support. Do not let yourself be taken in by this woman’s frail appearance; she proved her strong character and firm will by keeping the course of “Couleurs de Chine” in the right direction. One can say that she is an exceptional woman!

This is ‘My China’
Here are some of the many encounters I have had the chance to make since I arrived in Shanghai. Far from the Bund and its glitters, at the bend of the alleys, in the shadow of a block condemned to destruction, just lift up your head and you might meet the eyes of someone and start a wonderful story…
(Photos by Ann.S)


[1] Ethnic minorities in China benefit from a special law which allows parents to have a second child if the first-born is a girl. In fact, many families have more than two children, usually non-declared.

Read Anne Segura's original article in French


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Meet Chen Yan yan

Chen Yan yan is from the Qiang minority, northern Sichuan. Her family went to live in the city since her youth, but her parents were always heavily involved in local life in their home village.
Her mother is known to everyone in the valley as a midwife and her father has been a member of the local council. During the earthquake of May 2008, the houses of the villages and towns of the valley were all destroyed, and terraced fields collapsed or were been buried under mudslides. Chen Yan yan lost her home and spent several months to help with clean-up work in the city and the valley.

While visiting her village, she was very impressed by the courage of the villagers who were almost immediately replanting what remained of their seeds, to ensure a living even before their destroyed houses were cleared. However, the fields were hardly restored when the torrential rains from the summer of 2008 outweighed the beginning of the harvest, ruining these people even more. Their houses were only partly rebuilt, and reconstruction aid was not enough. When Chen Yan yan learned of those who were unable to bear these misfortunes and provide for their families and committed suicide, she was deeply moved. She reflected on the best way to help people around her, and in May of 2009 she set-up workshops in traditional embroidery. The first step was to teach the art to women in villages, so that the tradition could continue. She also considered that these workshops would help the women to find moral comfort at meetings where they could talk, sing and express their grief.
Starting in her parents’ village, she gathered many women who came - often working while singing. As a miracle of life, many husbands have agreed to work at home and take care of the children, so their wives could learn these techniques, some men even embroidered with their wives.

Then, little by little, she visited the nearby hamlets or villages to create similar workshops. To date, she works with 400 people in ten different hamlets. Chen Yan yan is supported by her family. Her husband has taken over her undertaker company, and her 12-year-old daughter accompanies her on trips through mountain roads still half collapsed. Fearing her mother will fall asleep from fatigue, Chen Yan yan’s daughter will sing as she drives. Her daughter also takes pictures of villagers and sings songs. Yan yan’s parents now travel with her in China, as she tries to make the embroideries known and search for contracts.

Yan yan has decided to help these villagers sell the embroidery, to take orders, and to advertise their work and these workshops. For traditional clothes embroidered with wild flowers and birds, Yan Yan had the idea to choose a few designs and have them framed, or to choose paintings with topics linked with the history of the PRC and do embroidery on them.

I would like therefore to introduce Chen Yan yan and her workshops to you. Make known the kind of objects and orders that the workshops can currently take in charge, and solicit your help to advertise this project of hope around you, helping it to develop further.

Thank you.

Watch a video of Chen Yan yan’s workshop

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Thursday, 30 July 2009

Zhongliao Village after 921 Earthquake

Every Taiwanese can recall the earthquake that shook the whole Island of Taiwan, one night time nine years ago. On that night, more than 2000 people lost a family member or had their house destroyed.

Nantou County was the area the most severally hit by the natural disaster. Some parts of the mountains disappeared to make place for a new landscape.

Mr Liao who was living in Zhongliao Village, Nantou County thought he was very lucky to survive the earthquake with his wife. Unfortunately, this was not the case for many people living in the neighbourhood. In front of this distressing situation, Mr Liao decided to build ‘Longyan Community’.

The association started by giving free lunch boxes to the people in need. Since 1999, they distributed more than one million lunch boxes.

As most people living in Zhongliao Village are old people and children, the head of the Association Mr Liao, decided to open free class activities in the community and free access to a computer room…a doctor also comes to the village once a week.

Now, more and more people living in Zhongliao Village work for the community, combining their efforts at the service of others.

When I was staying at Longyan Community, I was amazed to see the point to which the combined efforts of the community, could create an atmosphere of healthy life and hope after the earthquake trauma.

To me, Longyan Community is a model example of mutual aid for Taiwanese Society.

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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Stone village

Liu Wan Cun is a small village in the province of Guizhou that sits idyllically in a mountain valley. The Chinese call this type of topography a shangu and in their minds it always evokes both beautiful scenery and poverty. Liu Wan Cun has those features because it’s located in the limestone region of the province with breathtaking jagged karst stone formations but with very limited land for agriculture. Indeed, the valley of Liu Wan Cun is farmed intensively and farm fields even stretched up to the sides of the mountains in the form of terraces. Farmers here grow wheat, rice and corn depending on the availability of water. During the year they alternate with other crops like rapeseed and water chestnuts. While there are spots in the province that have dense forest, there is little vegetation that could be called forest on the hills around this village. There is a noticeable abundance of weeds, some scattered small trees that appeared to be local varieties of pines, and shrubs that farmers could use as firewood and materials for building houses. But the hills are also the source of small streams that provide the villages with water even in long dry spells or seasons. They are also feeding grounds for goats and sheep.

Nobody seems to have any explanation as to why this village (cun) is called Liu Wan, two Chinese characters that simply stand for six hundred thousand. However, if one lets his imagination wander, the name six hundred thousand could refer to the boulders of limestone that seem to grow all over the ranges of rolling mountains. For geologists, one could perhaps see a perfect area of study which could reinforce theories of rocks and earth formation. For tourists, there is the picturesque landscape which is perfect for both professional and neophyte photographers. Around this area there are first class scenic spots like the cascading falls of Huangguoshu, or Long Gong (dragon palace) which is a cluster of giant limestone caves, and hotels were built close to these places to accommodate tourists and nature travelers. However, it is tough going for people living in these remote areas who are mostly cultural minorities like the Miao, Bouyi, Dong, Yi, Shui, Zhuang, Bai, Tujia, Gelao, and Gejia. Because it’s a limestone region, except for few places, subsistence agriculture has been particularly difficult.
Stone is what villagers in this area have plenty of, and it is no wonder that their houses are also made of stones. Human settlements have been adapting and making use of the resources of their natural surroundings and the people here seem to have perfected the craft of transforming these stones into materials for building houses. A characteristic of limestone is that you could easily chip it according to the desired size, thus the walling of the house are stones cut into rectangular shapes and the roofs are made of wide but thin slabs of stones.

We were brought to Liu Wan Cun by a Chinese friend, Thomas, who works for an NGO called New China Link. This NGO was started by an Irish teacher, Matt Carpenter, who used to teach English in a university in Guiyang, the capital of the province. Guizhou is one of the poorest provinces in China, and while Matt was teaching in the capital the haunting presence of poverty in the countryside was brought to his attention. So he had been thinking of a possibility of extending help to the poor villages. After six years of teaching he had come to know some local people and provincial government officials who helped him to set up what he had always wanted to do. Thus the New China Link was born.

The center where New China Link based its operation was in the town called Zhenning, which is more than two hours drive from Guiyang. Started in the year 2002, they have gradually done projects which Matt categorized under the heading of human development. Getting a little funding from Ireland, NCL has helped the poorer families build small houses, provided some village access to water and started livelihood projects.
Thanks to the NCL’s vehicle and the new gravel road that the government built recently, what used to be a day’s walk from the highway took us only about thirty minute drive from the NCL center. Then we had more than an hour’s walk on trails that go through the fields of these mountain valleys before eventually arriving at Liu Wan Cun. It is one of the villages where NCL has water and livelihood projects. Villagers no longer have to go far to fetch water, with their buckets carried on top of their heads or on their shoulders using a bamboo or wooden pole. Instead, water is brought to their houses. Making possible even a very basic need such as water has dramatically enhanced people’s livelihood and has allowed them not only easy access to drinking water but better facility in maintaining small gardens, raising hogs and poultry.

One of the families we visited has a harelipped child. For a poor family living in a shangu (mountain valley), the possibility of a simple harelip operation would be unthinkable. Nora Mary, also an Irish teacher who recently joined Matt, has contacts with another NGO that runs a health care project in Kunming, capital of the neighboring Yunnan province. Because I live and study Chinese in Kunming, I volunteer to be available to help in whatever small things I can do. It could mean accompanying someone, like a child with a disability from these villages to get medical treatment in Kunming. I know it’s only very little but as Matt said, if people are willing to do little things, one could never underestimate the impact the little things can have on people. I remember Mother Theresa who once said, “One can only do small things with great love.”

Nora, Thomas, I and two other companions at that time were sitting inside this family’s house and each of us was offered a cup of green tea. It is only through this family’s hospitality and in our informal conversation that we get a chance to listen to their stories. The father’s surname is Liu, and he said that the hare lipped child was adopted which explains why there is a second boy in the family who is three years younger. In these villages, the young people go to the cities to join the millions of people from the countryside looking for work in the coastal regions of China where most of the manufacturing industries are located. These migrant workers have become the country’s source of cheap labor. Farmers like Mr. Liu would stay in the village for the planting season and then leave the farm to the remaining members of the family, mostly the small children, mother, and grandparents, to join the millions of the moving Chinese population. From another family that lives next door to Mr. Liu, both young husband and wife went to Shanghai to work, leaving their 2-year old child in the care of the grandmother.
Mr. Liu walked with a limp and Nora asked him why? A few years back, Mr. Liu went to Beijing and worked in a construction company, but he said, luck was not on his side because a few years later he met with an accident. He broke his right leg and was told that he could no longer do strenuous work. He received a small amount of compensation which he used to buy medicines to recuperate and the rest he used to construct his small house. Life has been hard for him ever since, and he has been feeling particularly useless because of his handicap. I noticed that the three middle fingers in his left hand were missing and he said he lost them in an accident when he was cutting trees. Any little help he could get from NCL, especially for his harelipped child would mean a lot to him. Nora promised that she would be in contact with people who are doing medical missions like “operation smile” so they could avail of their program.

When we were leaving the village, we were led by another man who is in charge of looking after the water project. The families in the village contribute a small amount of money for the water project and the money collected is used to meet other needs of the community. The farmers see the value of communal sharing, cooperation and participation. The man accompanying us was their community leader. It was already midday and the noon sun was starting to bite our skin as we were retracing our steps back to where we came from. Our local companion was insistent on inviting us for lunch. He said it was their way of thanking us. Thomas being local himself and belonging to a cultural minority has a gentle way of refusing such hospitality without offending the man’s sensibilities. However, he walked with us up to where the NCL vehicle was parked. And we said goodbye, promising to see each other again, which is the real meaning of ’zaijian’, a word that is used to bid goodbye to someone.
While we were driving back, there weren’t many words spoken, perhaps because we were all exhausted or maybe because every parting leaves a feeling of sadness. But somehow I could hear the words of Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet who lived more than two thousand years ago. He said, “No sorrow is greater than the parting of the living; No happiness is greater than making new friendships.”

We still passed those scenic spots that brought visitors from other parts of China to this place but this time the landscape had taken on a new significance for me. I realized that those were not the reason for our coming. And when I thought about the people I had just met in the village made of stones, I couldn’t help but feel a profound sympathy for them. It’s true that they do adapt and survive even in most difficult conditions in the countryside but they are grateful for the little help and friendships extended to them from well-meaning people. It is through mutual help and cooperation that hardship can be overcome or at least difficulties in life can be bearable. It is for families like that of Mr. Liu that the work of Matt, Nora and Thomas has made a lot of difference.

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Thursday, 14 May 2009

Baoyu: A farm where it feels like home

‘Laonongfulehuocun’ (老農夫樂活村) is located in the countryside of Sanzhi. This ecological farm is a very pleasant place to spend one’s day, but most of all, it is a place which opens up opportunities for handicapped people.

Professor Luo had the idea a couple of years ago to open a place where handicapped people could work and be more recognized socially by Taiwanese society.

As she recalled the first time she met Baoyu, she said : « Baoyu gave me a strong impression. Despite her difficulties to walk, she is a woman full of energy and is eager to participate in the life of the association. Baoyu’s decision to stay and work here is a very good example of how our association works, and it is at the same time a very positive experience for her and for the association. »

Baoyu got a very serious illness when she was three and she has been partly paralyzed since then. Nevertheless, her mother kept telling her that she can learn to live with her handicap, and even help others.

Hence, when she arrived at the association, she quickly felt part of this ‘large family ‘. Baoyu said : « Here, everyone has a particular handicap, but we help each other. »

As I spent a day at the farm, I could see Baoyu helping here and there, cooking, selling the products harvested at the farm, welcoming groups of children coming to the farm for a vacation day, etc. I could see how her work at the association and her smiley face as well are important to the friendly atmosphere. I admire her strength and her will as she keeps going forward, might it be at her own pace.

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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Dentist Who Walks in Wilderness

Before, when we were promoting environmental protection movements, we resorted to the moral proclamation of ‘For the sake of our children.’ What we couldn’t foresee was that within these few years, the mass growth of world population and the combination of global economy and technology has induced the over-consuming of natural resources. For the time being, the crisis that the earth is facing no longer exists in a somewhat distant future, but will very likely confront our own and the next generations.

I always felt that the main target of environmental protection is not the environment, but people’s minds. What I really want to do is to change people’s minds. I hope that people will get involved with environmental protection not only at the level of knowing and understanding, but also at the level of actual practices.

We are racing with time every day. We wish more and more people could become aware and start to take some action. We believe that where there is a will, there is a way. What the crowd thinks impossible, we will make it real. We also believe that one can be enormously influential because of the power of dream and belief.
The Society of Wilderness

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Friday, 27 June 2008

Thank you everybody!

We would like to thank everyone who at some time or other has helped the “A Pleines Mains” project and has shared our involvement in different projects that we try to support:
- A project that was not scheduled: the Sichuan earthquake. APM is working with the Community Center by financing tents that are made here and sent to the quake hit area by the CC. We will continue to work with micro projects there in order to help small groups by sending new clothes, mainly to Sichuan but also to Gansu which has been given less media coverage.
- The hostel ‘Home Sweet Home’, which advises physically handicapped beggars how to start a new life, to take up regular living habits, get used to life in society, catch up on lost schooling by learning pinyin, math and basic English and find work adapted to their handicap. APM helps by putting them in contact with companies: soon you will find a stand of Home Sweet Home products in the Carrefour in the Gubei district. Also, APM along with Home Sweet Home is starting a new experiment: monthly sales. The stocks will come from our donations of clothes and various objects in order to create a new activity in their organization and to support their own hostel. Our donations will be resold at low prices that are affordable to the migrant population nearby.
- Actions carried out in Shanghai and the provinces by Wang Li from the group Soho-Ku: manual workshops for the mentally handicapped, training in patchwork or felt for the physically handicapped in order to supplement their income, English or French lessons for the disadvantaged in Shanghai, urgent surgical operations for children from minority groups, covering schooling costs of children from minorities. This summer, like last, APM is helping to finance the second phase of school building restoration, medical visits and hygiene training in Napa in Yunnan.
- The project in the village of Yangjuan in which we have participated with Wang Li by trying to introduce diversification in single crop farming. You can buy the book, in Chinese, from APM about 10 years experience of modernization and the construction of a school.
- There is also the group who cares for lepers (about 400 divided up into villages that are visited at different times) in the south of Guangdong and Guangxi for whom we combine our efforts with “Passeport Shanghai” and to whom CHINAMOOD gives 100% of its profits. Our help throughout the year assists with the purchase of medicines for different illnesses contracted due to leprosy (ulcers, skin diseases, cancers), for the hospitalization of the most severe cases and for the construction of dormitories or showers.
- The project of the Bethel orphanage which receives visually impaired children from different orphanages in the north of China. It offers them an education adapted to their needs and surrounds them with all the affection necessary to develop the children to whom we have sent funds these last years.
-Projects supported by AssoJiaJia, Madaifu, Couleurs de Chine: a private orphanage in Anhui managed by an old man who for 40 years has gathered up the handicapped who have been abandoned and whom we help with financial donations or clothes. This year we will help equip this orphanage in Anhui with showers and assorted help in hygiene training given by the young people of Home Sweet Home.
- Conferences that we have been able to organize to support individual projects.

Most of all, for years there have been wonderful volunteers:
There are some who receive phone calls at all times during the week and the weekend to respond to propositions about donations and who respond to all emails.
There are some who loan their garage to receive donations often in bulk and are invaded at any time.
There are some who freeze in winter and are bitten by mosquitoes in summer, who sort out the clothes: some impeccably folded and ironed, some unwashed, torn or moldy.
There are some who wash and iron all the children’s clothes that are put on sale and who reselect all the games.
There are some who loan all the nooks, cupboards and attics of their house to install the famous sale once a month and receive such a crowd that one husband plans to take his business trips out of Shanghai on those days!
There is a lovely ever-changing team who, during the course of the last seven years of sorting and four years of show rooms, has slaved away, sorted out, carried heavy boxes, made coffee, tidied up late in the evening, put clothes on hangers and found last minute solutions.
There are super devoted drivers who help us pack everything in our cars or trucks and our “ayis”, without whom the garages would not be open in our absence.
There are understanding companies who trust us and whose guarantee of donations fund our sales or our donations depending on their specifications.
There is a team of very professional volunteers for the book ‘Walks in the heart of the former French Concession’. They accomplished a magnificent job over many long months and who propose wonderful discoveries in Shanghai by means of this book.
There are those who lead a group or a project and spend their time each week until the end of it (e.g. patchwork, felt)
There are those who give lessons and those who do translations at home and who are a great help.
There are those who actively support us and who allow us to make decisive contacts.
And there are terrific families who support us in all the meanings of the term !
You are welcome to take part in one way or another!
Sorting, manual workshops, language lessons, artistic creation, attending the sales, financial participation
All your projects can help us !

Attached media :

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


5月12日四川發生了地震災難,當我面對電視和網路,都是淚流滿面,傷心不已。在四川有我的父母和養育我的地方,每每聽到四川方言和看到四川人的身影,都讓我激動萬分,幾次衝動想去四川災區做志願者,但都不能如愿。唯一能做的就是往紅十字會捐點錢, 在心中默默地為他們祈禱。



扎西多吉於1998年在中甸縣開設一間小小的旅遊餐館“TIBET CAF ”謀生,靠它微薄的一點收入養活了自己,支撐起一個“組織”營運,建立起一個“民間自然保護區”帶動起17個自然村的旅遊經濟發展,十年來他把在這一地域從事旅遊業的全部收入返回了這片土地。


項目支持︰三仟元民眾幣 作為醫療救助





信箱︰This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (中文)
Skype ID: astridbernard_coront(英文、法語)
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雲南中甸 香格裡拉民間自然保護協會
電話︰0887-8230018 、8288918
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Friday, 02 May 2008

Hygiene in Rural China and Charities in Shanghai

The 2008 International Sanitation Year embarks global initiatives to create awareness of proper sanitation and/or water supply, aimed toward mechanized improvement of health and quality of life of the community. A country that moves forward would not leave anyone behind. Therefore, Home Sweet Home (HSH), a company which incorporates values, promotes social inclusion and holistic human development, has recently launched its new project called Top Bottom Beautiful (TBB) – an affordable toilet for the needy built by the needy.

TBB project is supported through profit selling of HSH Green Bag products which are sold to replace plastic shopping bags. Consumption of such bags will be banned by June 2008 in China. HSH is now training its staff to teach hygiene to the needy community where TBB toilets will be built through HSH’s partnership with other charity organizations or companies.

Home Sweet Home’s vision is, “Equipping the needy with special needs to fulfill their fullest individual potential in the community”. Home Sweet Home is a local company which recruits the under-privileged, especially migrant workers who are physically challenged. Others of our workers were found homeless due to the difficulty in finding employment as a result of their physical limitations. The positive recent response from the public has also opened new doors for recruitment of physically challenged adults that grew up in orphanages and poor area in China.

HSH is more than just a company that provides employment to its staff. In order to fulfill its corporate vision, this unique company extends its love and care to the employees by building their character in a loving home environment and developing their skills through vocational education and life skills training. The company also successfully functions as a bridge that supports their integration to the community at large.

TBB project is an example of the bridge used by HSH to include those who were excluded from the community because of disparities such as poverty, disability, low education and racism. The opportunity to serve and give back to the needy by those who were previously needy has also brought positive impact, not only to the life of the people being helped or those who are serving, but also to others who are observing the positive holistic life transformation of the people at HSH.

In spite of being a young and small company, the human development observed among HSH special staff and their commitment to giving back to the community has challenged other bodies to cooperate as responsible stakeholders in China’s human development and economic growth. HSH is serving as a catalyst to spur on healthier community by becoming a channel for local and international companies to become actively involved in socially responsible work.

Some of the companies and education bodies that have partnered actively with HSH corporate social responsibility activities are Hysolution Group, Innotech, Dulwich College Shanghai, English First, Shanghai Community Center, Johnson Controls, Maya Chang Zhou Plastic Company, Bunnies By The Bay, Carrefour, Orrick, UTI, B & Q and Intercontinental Hotel Groups. The partnership in resolving social exclusion also addresses the barrier of unemployment among the under privileged and migrant workers and reduces social and health problems. Meanwhile, the purchase of HSH-made products by these companies creates employment for the people whom the company is helping.

Human development is important as it is not only a product of economic growth but also an important input to economic growth. Therefore, HSH hopes that the implication of the cooperation between the local and international counterparts in a local setting will bridge the community gap and enable the end product of the development of healthier and fuller lives.

It has been observed that the collective experience among the like minded through HSH also allows enlightenment of good human qualities such as love, compassion, humility, courage, cooperation and willingness to sacrifice for the common good. Indeed, the edification and continuous nurturing of these values has brought the mystical impact of increased efficiency of and harmonious conditions at work, as well as the breaking down of human barriers.

There is so much charity work that can be done and often we become breathless in figuring out where and how we start. The performance of human development that is often measured by various social indicators could be a good guide in measuring the needs of a local community and could provide sound direction in initiating community service work. One lesson that HSH has learnt is not to despise small beginnings and to begin simply by serving others close to us. Our first emphasis, therefore, is to love our closest neighbours before we proceed to running charity work in the community. Home Sweet Home was founded in 2005 through small and simple steps. Today this philanthropic company is still growing in its experience to fulfill its vision. HSH still begins each day in service to the others in the home and those nearby, thus fuelling the day’s charitable works.

Every one at HSH is trained to be a servant to others regardless of whether their position is at the top or the bottom of the management chart. With this basic principle, Home Sweet Home aims to break barriers between humankind. This will be lived out in the implementation of the Top Bottom Beautiful project in China, as HSH moves among the poor and needy and crosses various ethnic groups and skin colors. The remarkable life transformation of the physically challenged, especially those who used to be homeless, and are now training and serving other needy ones, tells a unique and special story of heroes helping heroes in China. This story warms our hearts and gives us greater promise of a beautiful and sweet homeland of hope for all humankind. Just as our name, Home Sweet Home, so aptly expresses, there is truly no place like home.

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