The children that attend the elementary school in Sangba Xiang, the only school in the region, come from twelve surrounding villages. It is typically a 2 hour walk from a village to the school. Due to this long distance, grandparents move to Sangba Xiang to take care of their grandchildren while the parents stay in the village to care for the fields. Children will often go weeks without seeing their parents. Sometimes they will walk the two hours up the mountain to return to the village for a weekend in order to see their parents, help with the fields, and get food to take back to school. Children start school at five years of age if the parents have enough money to pay the school fees. Generally, they will stay at this school for six years. During the week they have long, intensive days of study starting at 6:30 in the morning and not finishing until 8:00 at night. Instruction is predominately in Chinese and the children learn to read and write Chinese with Tibetan being a secondary language. Once the children graduate from this school, they may further their education by attending school in Tewo, a three-hour drive from Sangba Xiang. This is a large expense for families as it not only entails the school fees, but also housing and food costs which is more expensive in the bigger city.
Families have traditional homes in the villages but, have very limited supplemental income to build additional housing in Sanga Xiang for their children. Consequently, the housing for the school children and their grandparents is very inadequate. The homes are not built in the traditional manner, but are cheaply constructed dwellings cut into the hillsides. Often, there are 5 or more children, with their grandmother or grandfather, living in one small room. The walls and floors consist of dirt and are continually eroding. Protection from the elements is limited in the winter time due to the inadequate structure. Most of the homes don’t have any electricity and all are without any sort of plumbing or bathroom facilities. Each day the grandparents and children walk for about 20 minutes to and from the river to retrieve water for cooking and cleaning.
It is our great hope to improve the living conditions and education of these children through the provision of adequate and safe housing and a scholarship fund. We have the land to build an apartment-type building and are looking for support from individuals that are interested in visiting the village and taking part in the actual construction. We are also looking for donations to help cover the costs of this endeavor. Additionally, we are hoping to build a scholarship fund in order to assist families with school fees, as well as provide incentive for gifted or hard-working students to further their education in one of the larger cities, such as Xining or Lanzhou. The Tibetan dialect that is spoken in Sangba Xiang and Tewo is very small and only understood by those within the region. By enabling some children to further their education at a school where pure and true Tibetan is spoken, our language and culture will be longer preserved, despite Chinese occupation. It is my hope and wish that these students one day return to Sangba Xiang to teach the authentic Tibetan dialect to the local children. By providing opportunities for higher education, I believe that we can have a beneficial impact on generations to come.
Please see the following video, which shows the living conditions of the children and provides a visual description of the situation. Please contact us with questions or if you are able to help in any way. We appreciate your support.
Here is also a video kind shows about Children inPortland and Children in Shangba xing, Thanks you very much for your time.