Children’s health and happiness seem to be something we take for granted. However, because of family financial difficulties or other reasons, for some children in mainland China, their parents cannot be around them when they grow up. The children are dealing with overwhelming economic and emotional stress all by themselves. By providing sponsorship and conducting projects locally, The Salvation Army not only helps these children with their studies but also provides all kinds of activities and social visits to relieve their mental stress.

Helps a young soul fulfil his dream
The Army has been conducting poverty alleviation and education sponsorship projects in Longchuan County of Dehong Prefecture, Yunnan Province for almost 20 years. During all these years, thousands of students have been able to finish their studies. And make use of their knowledge to change their lives for the better and create their future with hope. Influenced by the Army, these children also learned to be grateful and pass on their passion and kindness to others in need. Xiaoyang is one of these students.

Xiaoyang came from a very poor family in the cold, remote highland of Bangdong Village, Wangzishu Township of Longchuan County. His father was badly injured during a work accident and was hospitalised for over a month. The tuition fee for Xiaoyang and his little brother and the living expenses of his family came from their mother’s slender wages. Sometimes, they have to borrow from neighbours to live through the tough days.

Xiaoyang has been a hard-working and straight-A student since primary school. During his high school years, he got a scholarship from the Army. In 2021, he entered his dream college, Yunnan Agricultural University. With the 3000-Yuan scholarship from the Army, he could pay his travel fees and the first few months’ living expense which helped him start his life in university much easier.

As a beneficiary of the Army’s sponsorship programme for many years, Xiaoyang learned that the only reason that he could go this far is because of the support from many kind people. So, he is determined to study hard and become a trustworthy young man who is useful to his community and the nation.

Story of Uncle Long and Xiaotao
Xiaotao is a 12-year-old boy studying in Secondary 1. His dad was sent to prison when Xiaotao was 8 and his mum couldn’t face the harshness. Since then, Xiaotao was left alone with his grandparents. Despite the veteran pension and minimum social welfare support, his grandpa has to work here and there to pay the bills. Xiaotao has been an inferior boy since he was small, and as he grew older and hit puberty, he became more and more withdrawn. His grandparents didn’t get much education themselves; it seems impossible for them to communicate with Xiaotao at all and they didn’t know how to deal with Xiaotao’s rebellious behaviours no matter how worried they were.

The terrible situation lasted for a few years until one day when Uncle Long, a volunteer of the ‘Qingshen County Disadvantaged Children Project (Phase 2)’ came into Xiaotao’s life. Every month, Uncle Long pays a visit to Xiaotao’s home and hands over the subsidy to him. Sometimes, he would stay longer to play games with Xiaotao or drive him around in Qingshen County. Xiaotao was so reluctant to hang out with Uncle Long at first, but as Long visited more and more, Xiaotao started to open up to him and even look forward to meeting him.

At the same time, the Army conducted a prisoner visitation and support activity called ‘Bring Hope to Reunion’. Xiaotao and his grandmother signed up right away. Xiaotao hadn’t seen his dad for years and he couldn’t even recall what his father looks like. On the special day of visit, Uncle Long gave Xiaotao and his grandma a ride to the jail. Xiaotao prepared so many things that he wanted to share with his dad, but the second he saw his dad, he couldn’t speak a word but cry, so were his father and grandma. The tears spoke for themselves.

The Project also offers a training activity for guardians. Grandma joined these training sessions as well. She could not catch every detail in the classes, but she learnt ways to communicate and get along better with Xiaotao.

‘And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’ (Colossians 3:14)