When I was teaching at a university in China in 2003, I spent a lot of time teaching in classrooms just like the one pictured below. The room may not have been spectacular, but the students certainly were! One day, one of the female students looked sad, so I asked her if everything was OK. Her answer completely changed my life!
She told me that she was sad, because she had heard that in a rural area about an hour from campus there had been a fire in an illegal (not registered with the government) fireworks factory, and many people died from the fire because they were trapped inside. She continued with her face looking down and sobbing slightly, “Now there are many children without a mother and a father.” Without knowing any of the facts, I tried to comfort her.
Later that day, some of the foreign teachers had a meeting, and we were very fortunate to have the former Director of the Foreign Language Department (a Chinese lady) with us. I started asking questions about the fire, and she confirmed what the student had told me. She knew there were at least 20 children that lost both parents in the fire, so our small group of foreign teachers agreed that we must help those children! This horrific event occurred in a rural area — there wasn’t an orphanage to accept the children, so the children were taken in by distant family members and local villagers.
Our group of foreign teachers, with the help from the former Director of the Foreign Language Department, pledged to pay the school fees for all of the children through high school graduation, regardless of their current grade level.
When I returned to the States after teaching at the university, I started Global Partners in Life! I am happy to report that all but one of the students, which ended up being over 20 children, graduated from high school! One boy, two months from graduating, ran away from home and we never heard anything else about him. We are still proud of the other students who overcame such a horrible event in their lives and remained focused enough to complete their high school education.
We felt thankful to be in a position to assist some truly needy children, and that is what Global Partners in Life continues to do! Would you like to help us by investing in the work we are doing in China?