GCELE China 2015 took me to Butuo County, in Sichuan Province – China.
It started with a very bumpy 4.5 hour ride through a dirt road to get there. It was totally worthy. While in the mountain, we had our first contact with the Fu Hui children. First thing, we went hiking up hill for an hour, this is when I realized that I’m not in shape and I shouldn’t complain about my commute to college ever, as some of these kids walk for hours everyday to get to school, we witnessed small children walking on the side of road in the middle of nowhere in uniforms and their backpacks.
There, we had a home visit to one of the girls, we found her grandmother outside of the house, she walked to the house and used her key on the lock. Yes, a lock, no matter how much or how little one might have, there is a sense of belonging and ownership, that need of protection over your home. Coming from a Latin American country and previous volunteer work, I’ve seen poverty at first hand before. However, I had not seen such low living conditions, ever. It was heartbreaking, to say the least. Yet, this girl had a smile for us at every glance. To me, as a friend said during a reflection session, it was not an eye opener, but a reminder to refocus priorities and be grateful.
While visiting the schools, we had a chance to see the children and girls in their everyday environment. Everyday, they shared part of themselves and their culture with us, without any restriction nor fear, they gave us all they had and then some, they surprised us their strong views, the way expressed and saw themselves. Moreover, their excitement, their smiles and their happiness, that broke any language barrier we had. Sharing those few days with them and seeing such joy in them… It was priceless.