The girl was among the best students in her class. It was a class for Yi girls who were able to go school because of a tuition scholarship. Otherwise, they would be forced to quit school and help out at the farm back home.
You see, boys are seen as more important than girls. It is rare for girls to go beyond elementary school. Most families just do not see the need for it – and most also couldn’t afford it, anyway.
One day, the girl just didn’t come to school.
So David* and Liz*, two foreign workers who knew her, made the two-hour trek to her house in the mountains to find out why.
It turns out that her mom had come down with tuberculosis and could not do the farm work anymore, so she made her daughter stay home to do it. When asked if she would like to go back to school, the Yi girl, with eyes gleaming, exclaimed, “Yes!”
But who would do the farm work? Note – The farm work is actually quite simple, mainly to take the one cow that they have to graze everyday and make sure no one steals this prized possession.
My colleagues proposed taking the mom to the hospital and paid for the visit and the medication. They also followed up to see that all the medication was taken. The mother got well and the Yi girl was able to return to school. Perhaps one day, she will be able to get a job and break her family’s cycle of poverty.
This story reminds me of a few things about preparing people for work in China. First, we need to be flexible in how we serve. Sure, we may send people in as doctors and teachers, but does that mean overlooking the Minority Scholarship Program for Yi girls? Certainly not.
Being flexible is the key to serving. If David had said, “No, I am only coming as a doctor and that’s all I will do,” then he would not have had the chance to impact this girl and her family!
Two, there is a great need in China for good programs that will help families escape the poverty cycle, and we need more people, prayer, and money to do it.
*Names changed to protect identities.