Streams of hope
Mei-hua is an eight-year-old girl of Miao ethnicity, and a primary one student in a school located in Wuding County, Yunnan Province. She lives with her parents, older and younger sisters who are 18 and six years old respectively.
Like any other families in the village, Mei-hua’s home is an old and gloomy house with flies flying around. Since they cook and burn a wood stove in the house, the walls and ceiling are smoked to black. They have just a few pieces of furniture: a worn-out sofa, a dining table, two cabinets, a television set and three benches.
They plant corn, bean and tobacco in the farmland. They raise 10 hens, two pigs and a donkey to help farming and carrying heavy goods. These are the main sources of their family income.
Mei-hua is willing to help the family with housework. She sweeps floor, feeds poultries, takes care of her younger sister, and teaches her Chinese characters and counting. In the past, Mei-hua and her sister could either stay in the murky house or play dangerous games such as throwing stones or climbing trees outside the house.
With the multi-purpose rooms and cultural study room World Vision built in the community to provide villagers, both adults and children, have safe places for extra-curricular activities, Mei-hua now can go to the multi-purpose room with her younger sister for reading, and play toys with other children.
“I like going to school because there are many classmates there,” she says. Since the school is relatively far away from Mei-hua’s home, she has to stay in the school from Monday to Friday during schooldays.
School life is really informative and joyful. Mei-hua spends five days a week in school. Typically, every morning when she wakes up, she washes her face, brushes teeth, and then goes to school. They would have sufficient drinking water whenever they were thirsty. But since the drought hit in recent years, Mei-hua stopped cleaning herself up, and she refrained from drinking.
“I don’t wash my face because I’m afraid we’ll have no water to drink,” Mei-hua whispers.
The drought has since dried up the school’s water cellar, and there is no water supply for students. All students had to bring water from homes to school for their own consumption.
Mei-hua has two 1.5-litre plastic bottles. Every Sunday before she returns to school, she needs to fill them up.
“It was very heavy bringing them to school,” Mei-hua says.
It was not easy for an eight-year-old girl to carry three kg of water, and still walk for two hours. That’s why her father accompanies her to school every Sunday and carries the bottled water for her.
Recently, World Vision began to lay water pipes and locate clean water sources within the County to provide clean tap water for students staying in schools. Mei-hua’s school is one of those that benefited from this programme. Today, Mei-hua no longer needs to carry water to school from home.