Last month, WS introduced the story of Ching Tien and her sponsorship program, Educating Girls in Rural China (EGRC).
WS writer, Yara Zgheib’s story, Opportunity Through Education inspires us to get involved and effect change in our networks and communities. Over the coming months, we hope you’ll check back with us as we share two personal stories of change about the sponsored girls from EGRC.
WS Cares is an action plan to invest in people changing the world,. We have pledged 20% of our magazine subscription fees each month to build financial support for this transformative organization and hope you’ll share these with other family and friends.
Here is a brief summary about Ching and two very personal stories of powerful change.
About Ching Tien
Ching grew up in China in the 1960s and 70s and hoped to be a journalist and a writer until the Cultural Revolution changed everything. Her father was jailed and her mother was sent to work in Gansu, the poorest province in China.
Ching was pulled out of school and sent to work in a factory. During her eight years there, she witnessed dire poverty; people living in caves with few possessions and no access to running water or electricity. Boys were also favored over girls; they were the ones sent to school. Women actually had the added burden of supporting them.
But Ching refused this reality and, in 1983, she left China for Canada. She built a new life and raised a family, but never forgot the girls who stayed behind in Gansu.
Twenty years later, Ching returned to Gansu and met with government and school officials. She raised $27,000 dollars and founded EGRC in 2005. Since then, EGRC has sponsored the high school and university education of over 1,000 young girls. Beyond financial support, Ching keeps in touch and provides online and in person training on career and personal development, as well as intern and employment opportunities for every girl.
“Education gives a woman the ability to make decisions that will improve her life and ultimately improve her society. Women hold up half the sky.”
Here is a video that shares Ching’s powerful story:
To give to EGRC, visit: www.EGRC.ca
WS Cares Shares the Stories of Two Girls Making History
Huiming Ma, Scholarship recipient of EGRC and President of the EGRC Alumnae Association
In the summer of 2008, Huiming Ma faced the toughest decision of her life. She was admitted into Tianjin Normal University but couldn’t attend. Her family could not afford to send her.
As the third of five daughters in her family, she did not have many options. When she got her admission letter, her two older sisters were already in college and two younger sisters were in high school. Between her hometown prioritizing boys’ education over girls’, and her family’s farming income needing her help, Huiming had no choice but to stay home despite her strong desire to receive higher education.
Fortunately, EGRC (Educating Girls in Rural China) was able to help and sponsored Huiming’s tuition when they learned about her predicament. This changed her life forever. Six years later, Huiming finished her undergraduate studies and also obtained a master’s degree in Education because EGRC sponsored her a second time.
This gift and educational experience taught Huiming the value of giving back. It’s the reason she’s been actively volunteering at EGRC for ten years since her graduation, organizing fundraising events and sharing her life stories. Gaining an education not only broadened Huiming’s mind but it also encouraged her to tackle any new challenges with confidence. Thanks to Huiming and a few active alumnae who stepped up to serve a few years ago, the EGRC Alumnae Association was founded to create a support network for other EGRC girls. Huiming now lives in Beijing and is an entrepreneur in preschool education.
Zhimei Wang is currently studying for her Master degree at China Pharmaceutical University.
She was born in a small village in Gansu, arguably the most impoverished region in Western China. As a young girl, she suffered from a speech impediment. As a result, Zhimei was a sensitive girl with low self-esteem, who barely spoke.
In her first year at university, she decided it was time to find her voice. Each morning, Zhimei would get up early, shouting to the cliffs and picking up pebbles. She washed them and put them into her mouth to practice speaking.
After a year of continued hard work, she was able to talk like an average person. To continue working on this speaking challenge, she joined an English public speaking club in Nanjing city. Today, she is the Vice President of that Club.
In her final year of undergraduate study, she shared her story at an EGRC get-together and encouraged other students to overcome their obstacles. In one instance, she spent time talking with a severely-depressed EGRC-sponsored student to let her know she was not alone and that she cared for her. The student eventually recovered from her depression, graduated from school and landed a good job. In the EGRC circle, Zhimei earned the nickname “A little Sunshine.”