I was hit in the head yesterday while reading information about our upcoming trip. That means that I was feeling that my existence is some what small. We leave Friday to Pu'er Village, an area in Ning'er, Yunnan Province of China, known for its tea apparently. The people of Chahe village live on $220.00 a year, !! It is pretty powerful to see how other people in the world live and exist. We have so much, toilets, palaces(certainly in comparison), food. Basic necessities. It seems that we need so much and they exist on so little.
Our duty, next week is to build a house through Habitat for Humanity- Rob and I are anxious to be there, experiencing how the people of Chahe village exist. In hind site, I wish I had known more before, because I think this is something all of us would like to participate in somehow. Lord knows we are builders and could knock out a few homes and have a glorious time doing so!
Pu’er City is located on the southwest part of Yunnan, share
border with Burma, Laos and Vietnam. Pu’er is 415KM from
the capital city Kuming by a national road and 305KM airway
35mins flight from Kunming. There are 9 counties and 1
district under the jurisdiction of Pu’er City, 8 of which are
nation-level poverty counties. The total population is over 2.5
million. There are fourteen main ethnic groups that make up
the population – include the Han, Hui, Yi, Hani, Lahu, Wa and
Dai. The minority population is 59.4% of the total city.
Ning’er County is a minority county and the main ethnic
groups are the Hani and Yi. It’s the original produce area of
famous “Pu’er tea”. The Ning’er County covers 3,670sq.km.
And the population is 191 thousand. Ning’er is a nation-lever
poverty county and geologically Ning’er is located on an
active Seismic Zone as part of ‘Circum-Pacific Seismic Zone’,
earthquake and geologic disaster always happen in this
county. The latest earthquake happened on June 3, 2007measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale; HFHC had done an
earthquake Rehabilitation Project and has helped 50 families
to reconstruct their new houses.
Chahe is a natural village belong to the Mohei Township and
located in the valley of the babian river, 29km from the
township and 47km from the county. Chahe village is located
at the side of the highway from Kunming plus a short ride of
mud road. There are 38 families with 149 villagers living in
this village; all of them are the Hani people. The average
temperature is 22.3C and annual rainfall is 1400mm. The main
crops are corn, rice, chilli and peanut. The villager’s average
annual income reported by the government in year 2009 was
RMB 1, 496(220USD).
The current houses in Chahe village are earth walls, tiled/grass
roofs, and earth floors. Most current houses are broken or
affected by the earthquake and facing an earthquake risk in the
future. The average house size is about 70 square meters. Most
toilets of the families are too simple to be used by city people.
Most local people only survive based on their own harvest but
the harvest is not big enough for them to sell in the market and
make money. The main income source for the local families is
planting some economic plants and raise livestock. Housing
and sanitation have been the two major concerns and they had
been dreaming of a more decent shelter for long time.
However, saving enough money to build a new house is
beyond their reach with their current standard of living.
Hence, the participation and contribution from HFHC and
your support is a critical factor.
In other news,
We had an amazing, but brief lunch with Oliver in Tianzifang (Taikang Lu, (street)), an old town part of SHanghai with small shops, artists shopping, and intimate eating areas. The people of CHina spoke out when the city was thinking of tearing down this area to build new. The people won, so now it is a thriving walking area maintaining some of the "Old Town" charm. Oli was in Shanghai teaching master classes with the Shanghai Conservatory and somehow in his busy two days, we found each other and enjoyed lunch with he and our friends Ted and Lou (visiting from Alaska.) It was surreal to see him, almost like a dream, (would you agree Oli?), just the fact that wefound each other in front of a Starbucks, at some strangely named metro stop, under umbrellas in the rain, walked though dark alley's, ate Tai food on the floor with a german, an expat, and a visitor from AK all in Shanghai China. It doesn't get more surreal. These visits, I do not take for granted. An observation i made of Oliver was that though work seems important enough, Oliver couldn't get home fast enough to Auri! He is smitten.
Graham our nephew, came only three days after and is here now for the week. (We will be down on the Bund today with him.) Seems he came to know Shanghai quite well through Connie's pictures and stories. As he put it, I made it to the end of the presentation. Connie took quite a few pictures, had amazing adventures, and went home with many stories to share of which Graham was able to enjoy. He is just happy to have a rest here and see China before he travels to Europe to pick up his fiance in Spain, taking her home to New Castle Colorado to plan his wedding for June 2013. Hope to be home for JJ's graduation from Rippon college and for the wedding. It may all depend on if we are staying in China or coming back to the states.
Quinn spent the night at school Friday and pulled her first "all nighter". She was part of a twelve person group who walked the track for 24 hours to raise money for cancer. She was exhausted and slept all day Saturday, but did help to raise 32,000 dollars at the school alone. Each group baked cupcakes, etc and sold to classmates at lunches for four weeks. they also walked the neighborhood to find donations. Ask her about that! The school does this each year, but this year we are all walking for Josephine's friend Emma, who was just diagnosed with cancer. She is on her third treatment and already losing her hair. Please pray for Emma and for josephine and all their friends who are trying to understand all of this and just keep being a kids. Josephine needs some laughs and time/attention to remind her that it is all part of life. We are all struggling with this deeply. Emma is now in a hospital in Singapore getting the best care she can. The class has a blog in which they are raising money to send some friends to see Emma. Her teacher, a hero on his own, is trying to give the family what they have asked for as Emma has said, "spending time with my friends is the only thing I want". We were told that the class is trying to send Josephine and myself to see her s well as another friend, Katherine.
Just a few tidbits, of the life here.
So strange to be living our lives AND to feel like we are on a big vacation. I want you to know that it isn't just a big vacation especially as we understand the worth of the RMB, Yuan, Kuai and we adjust to "living here. There is some insecurity in not knowing what comes next. It is very existential to consider what we know and what we need in and from China, what we really need. Seems we should know what and where we are going but in the mean time keep trying take in a little everyday. We are finally seeing this as our home, though I have said that before, it becomes deeper with time. Medically, physically or emotionally it is all so foreign(no pun intended). If I can trust that I am taking care of myself here then maybe I can trust a little more with each outing that others are out there in this big world and may be able to add to that feeling of security.
So much to think about and be part of and as well so many thoughts of home and all of you who we miss and want to hear from.
Please send love to all of our extended family from us if and when you think of it.
We have the easter tree up from aunt Mari and are celebrating our first Easter in Shanghai. Easter blessings to all of you.