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[ePrayer – Pray for Gansu Quake victims]
A 6.6 earthquake hit the boarder areas of Minxian and Zhangxian counties, Dingxi city in Gansu on 22 July, followed by over 500 aftershocks. Up to 23 July, the disaster has caused 100 death and over 1,200 injured. Rain and low temperature at nights are expected in the affected areas in coming few days. Victims are in dire needs of relief items including blankets and tents. The affected areas are restricted only to official teams for rescue and emergency relief works. CEDAR is keeping a close watch on any needs there.
Pray for Gansu Quake victims:
- May His comfort and protection go to the victims and families suffering in loss of lives;
- Pray for the on-going emergency relief work and appropriate response to dire needs of victims.
[ePrayer – Pray for the community development in Gansu]
The Farmers’ cooperative was established last year and started to organise community activities. Some weeks ago, the cooperative coordinated the purchase of the fertilisers for project sites and the neighbouring communities. As a result, not only the farmers can purchase the fertilisers in a cheaper price, the cooperative can also save some money for development fund. Though there were some problems in the process of coordination, the representatives can solve them timely and wisely. Give thanks that the women group has stable production and order for handicrafts. Women could earn a living by producing the Fair Trade handicrafts.
Pray for the community development in Gansu:
- The cooperative is improving the existing regulations and trying to apply the government loan for development programmes. Pray for the future of the cooperative and pray that it acts as a catalyst which will bring forth the community transformation;
- Pray that the production skill of the women handicraft group will be further improved and more stable orders and markets will be explored.
Other Methods of Payment
- Cheque payable to ‘CEDAR FUND’
- Deposit to HSBC A/C No. 600-385678-001, enclosing with the Pay-in slip
- Autopay (only applicable to regular fixed donations), enclosing with a completed Autopay Authorisation Form (Download: WORD or PDF)
- Visa/ Master Card
Download Donation Form
Please send a completed Donation Form, enclosing with cheque or pay-in slip, to CEDAR FUND, G.P.O. BOX 3212, HONG KONG.
 CEDAR is an approved charitable institutions and trusts of a public character under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Please click Inland Revenue Department website to check for details.
 Donations over $100 are tax deductible in Hong Kong with our receipts.
 Please DO NOT fax any donation information.
[ ‘SHARE’ Mar-Apr 2013 – Between City and Village ] FOCUS: SPECIAL TOPIC
Author> Alice KWAN Education and Promotion Officer
‘Running to’ the cities
Each Lunar New Year we hear news and see images of migrant workers in China cramming into public transport to get home to their families. This has been going on for nearly thirty years and this annual travelling back and forth is continuing. For the first time in 2011, China’s 690 million city dwellers outnumbered the rural ones, accounting for 51.27% of the country’s total population. 
Why do rural people flock to work in the cities?
40-year-old Mr. Liu, a deliveryman in Yunnan, says, ‘I came to the city for a better life; conditions here are better than the village’s.’
23-year-old Jin works in a convenience store in Kunming, ‘Home is a small place and prospect was not good… I live here each day as it comes… I want to see more and experience things while I am still young…’
Like other migrant workers, 40-year-old Mr. Liu, a deliveryman in Yunnan, seeks work in the city for many reasons, such as having a poor family, hardship in farming, backward rural economy and a desire to see the world.
Travelling in cities and villages
After graduating in late 1990s, I researched on labour studies in China. I waited outside factories in the Guangdong Province catching migrant workers coming out for lunch breaks to talk about their work and life there. They told me how they were forced to work long hours but wages were held up or often deducted by trickery, or how labourers injured at work were neglected and ignored. Questions came to my mind ‘Why did you come here? Wasn’t it a better life in the village? At least you would not be taken advantage of!’
After joining CEDAR in 2000, I went to Hubei, China, and visited different project sites; then I lived for a few years in a Gansu village working on a development project. As I got to know the people, I gained a better understanding of the tension they faced between village and city lives.
Once a villager pointed out to some newly repaired brick houses and told me that they were financed by migrant family members who earned money in the cities. As my informant lives in a ramshackle wooden shack; he looked both jealous and envious.
Village life has become even less secure in recent years because of uncertainties of climate change. When farmers sow seeds in springtime they cannot be sure if there would be much harvest in the autumn. Young people have all left the village and the remaining adolescents wish they will soon look old enough so that they, too, can leave and travel far.
‘Staying behind’ in the villages
So is there nothing in the villages to keep the people there? There is such a great urge in them to leave!
Not necessarily. I chatted with a young mother who came home for Lunar New Year. Soon she was in tears because her two-year-old did not recognise her and clung to the grandparents only. She could not believe that while she had left home to improve the family’s situation, she would in the end lose her family. There are those villagers who have tried by all means over a long time but still failed to recover hard-earned wages owed to them.
As a development worker, I always hope that whether the villagers have decided to stay or leave, CEDAR’s rural community development projects will give them timely help and more room for choice. I believe that urbanisation is not the only way for development and parents need not leave their children behind to go and work elsewhere. Even in villages people can explore possible development plans through projects such as husbandry breeding, organic farming, making fair trade handicrafts and setting up farmers’ cooperatives.
It has been over 30 years since China’s reforms and opening up, and the first generation of migrant workers are now middle-aged; many of them have chosen to return home because of their age, family, and the government’s new rural policy.
49-year-old Gansu villager Zhang Zi-sheng says, ‘I worked in the city for over twenty years and I am now back home to devote myself to developing breeding and farming.’
48-year-old Hu Yun-jie from Hubei says, ‘I had been to many places and in the end I feel that home is the best place for my future; I can both look after my family and develop my village, here I can fulfil my parental responsibility of raising my children. Now that the Chinese government has quite a good rural policy and there is prospect for rural development; I am very hopeful for the future.’
35-year-old Tan Feng says, ‘I had gone away to work before, but I have decided to come back because my parents are getting old but my child is still young and needs looking after.’
‘Watching over’ migrant workers
As there is still a difference in the wages and development prospects between cities and villages, despite the hardships involved many are still migrating to cities.
30-year-old Ms. Li, now a waitress, followed her husband from Hubei to the city. ‘I left home for the sake of my children and family… I made the decision but I do not like it… I am not happy, there is no freedom working here, I don’t have my dreams and I have to listen to people’s orders.’
35-year-old Mr. Liu works in a supermarket in Kunming, Yunnan, ‘I had little choice but to work here. If something happens I will be left with nothing and no protection.’
As a socialist country, China’s labour regulations are very comprehensive but enforcement is slack. Apart from exploitation and unfair treatment, China’s household registration system also makes migrant workers second-class citizens, which means that regardless of how much they have contributed to the cities they are not eligible for medical treatment or children’s education benefits. Many migrant workers cannot adjust to the urban lifestyle, often homesick, and missing family. It is difficult for them to enjoy living in the city in cramped conditions.
Alone and away from home, it is very important that fellow villagers can support and watch out for each other when challenges, difficulties and disappointments arise. Currently CEDAR is actively promoting migrant workers projects, providing pre-departure training, teaching them labour rights based on past cases to raise their civic awareness. CEDAR also plans to set up networks so that migrant workers from the same or a neighbouring village support and help each other.
Today I do not get to walk around industrial sites or visit villages often, but I still bless those who travel between city and village. There are numerous possibilities between the two and I hope that they actually have the freedom to choose, and have a fair share of the fruits of development. I hope their lives will be happy and enriched, whether they be in the city or village.
For Further Action
If you care about migrant workers in China, you can:
- Review CEDAR Club Sharing held on 27 February: ‘Urban Drifting Second-Class Citizens? The Dilemma of Beijing Migrant Worker’s Children’
- Pray for seven days for CEDAR’s China Ministry
- Make monthly or one-off donations to CEDAR’s China Ministry
[Annual Report 2011-2012] Focus Countries
Review of 2011 to 2012
The setting up of farmers’ cooperatives in Gansu last year was an important achievement of our ministry in China. The transformation of farmers from being voiceless and helpless to participating actively, and even initiating organisation, is one main indicator of community development. In Sichuan, we have contacted many churches serving the communities actively. In Yunnan, we also have developed close partnership with the Yunnan Provincial Christian Council and been mobilising and supporting local churches to be concerned with responses to their community needs. We are happy to see that local churches are willing to go out and serve their communities and the achievement they got in past few years.
Prospect in the Coming Year
Hubei was the first province where we started community development in China with the most experienced team. Last year, our Hubei team started an organic farm project run as social enterprise. This year, they have just started a new project on labour empowerment, aiming to build up the awareness of labour rights and supporting network among villagers who are going to leave their homeland for work.
CEDAR has been implementing development projects in China over ten years. It is time for us to gather past experience on project implementation, church mobilization, community development and to put these experiences together to develop a set of teaching materials to strengthen church education and training works in Sichuan and Yunnan as well as to support local churches to better respond to needs of impoverished communities by walking with the poor and disadvantaged.
Pui Si’s Sharing
‘China is changing. Two decades ago, she was still one of the main countries helped by the international society. But now she has developed as an economic giant and has accumulated rich knowledge and experience in the field of poverty alleviation. Even though there are still many poverty issues have yet to be settled in China, I believe it is time to conclude the community development work in China and share the experience on alleviating poverty with other resource poor nations.’
After the exposure monitoring trips and discussions in the past two years, according to a series of measurement, such as the human development index (HDI), Gini coefficient, political and social stability, uniqueness and the possibility of monitoring project, we have finally chosen Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, India, Nepal, Myanmar and China to be the focus countries for our projects.
‘CEDAR in China’ Sharing Gathering was held in KUC Space, Kowloon Union Church in the afternoon of 20 October 2012. CEDAR’s supporters, staff and new friends enjoyed a good time of fellowship and dialogue on CEDAR’s development work in China.
We look forward to future opportunities to share our development works among the impoverished people with you and listen to your valuable feedback.
Sharing Video Review
Sharing by Rev. Joy LIU, Consultant (China Programme)>
Sharing by Ms Alice KWAN, former Project Supervisor in Gansu, China>