Our charity for tomorrow’s community fiction event is Educating Girls of Rural China, which provides financial aid and other support for deserving young women from rural areas (principally Gansu province, but also Qinghai and Guizhou) to continue their educations. Since its establishment in 2005, EGRC has awarded 435 university and high school scholarships. The organization boasts a 100 percent graduation success rate.
We caught up with Cindy Jensen, one of EGRC’s China advisors, to learn more about the charity and its founder, Tien Ching, whose education was cut short during the Cultural Revolution when she was sent to Gansu for eight years to work in a factory.
I love what the organization stands for: the opportunity to give an education to girls who are really financially disadvantaged. Last year I went to Gansu, there was a group of Canadian executives that went down, and it was just amazing, just to visit some of the families.
I want you to envision: here’s one of the homes… we hiked up — I can’t say mountain, but it was a really big hill — 45 minutes, through a mountainous region, and there’s a family living there with a young girl being sponsored by the charity to help her complete high school.
What I really admired is, if you meet any of these young professional women who are studying for university, they are so poised, if you see them in a room you wouldn’t necessarily know they were less advantaged than the next person. And they have this incredible tenacity to do well.
But not only that, they continue to give back to the community. Tien Ching has done a wonderful job working with the girls: they’ve now created mentorship programs to support each other, (especially) the younger women who just started university. And it’s something that’s very sustainable. Everybody keeps giving back.
About Tien Ching:
She’s originally from Beijing, and during the Cultural Revolution she and her mother and brother were sent to Gansu, so she lived there for eight years. She was a young child herself and obviously didn’t have the opportunity to continue her education, so she has a personal association with the region. She told me she was attending a charity event [when she was an adult] and really began to reflect on her own experience and what she knew about the region. And what she saw was a need to do something important, providing a greater opportunity for other women.
I was really struck by the personal dedication and commitment and personal man-hours that she has put in to ensure this program is a success. She’s definitely a voice of the charity, and what she’s almost singlehandedly been able to accomplish was really impressive, and I was just really blown away by what she was able to do.
I think it’s driven by passion and a belief in something so strongly. She has the ability to mobilize people into creating a sense of change.
Flash Fiction for Charity is this Sunday at 2:30 pm at Great Leap Original No. 6 (the courtyard/hutong location). 50 RMB gets you a free beer, with all proceeds going to EGRC.