We have provided support to Sunrise Library, a Chinese domestic non-profit organisation, set up in 2005 to assist with the educational needs of those living in poverty after the HIV infection disaster of the early 1990s, and other similar areas. They establish free village libraries in affected villages, host reading and other educational events, and provide various other forms of local support. We have provided funds to support the organisation's staffing and general administrative needs in 2009 (see report at bottom of this page).
This project is in line with UN Millennium Development Goal 1, which aims to "Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger" ; Goal 2, which aims to "Achieve universal primary education" ; Goal 3, which aims to "Promote gender equality and empower women" ; and Goal 6, which aims to "Combat HIV/AIDS...".
Background to our partner
In the so-called AIDS villages of Henan and Anhui provinces, from the 1970s to 1990s, many rural people sold blood to ease their poverty. Unfortunately, many of the blood collection centres were poorly run and cross-infection occurred due to the same needle being used several times, for example. In addition, blood was not tested, and thus carriers were able to continue to transmit the virus to spouses and partners. In the 1990s, very severe levels of HIV/AIDS began to be reported – up to 60-70% of the population in some villages. In 2004, some 12,000 people were confirmed HIV positive in Henan. The Chinese central government has subsequently committed significant health resources to alleviating the situation.
Photos courtesy of Sunrise Library.
The lack of educational resources in these areas is dramatic. In Shangcai County of Henan, for example, there are 1.36m inhabitants, but only three schools accommodating high school students. Class sizes are often over 100, and learning by rote is the norm. Opportunities for individual and artistic development are very limited. Public and school libraries simply do not exist. Equally, access to the final three years of high school is constrained by the high cost, which is often equivalent to a family's entire annual income.
Sunrise has also been expanding its concept beyond the original two provinces. As of late 2009, 13 Sunrise Libraries have been set up (five in Henan, two in Anhui, two in Shanxi, one in Guangxi and three in Sichuan). Each has over 500 regular readers, mostly primary and middle school students. The libraries can also act as centres for adult learning, too. Each is staffed by a local person, trained by Sunrise, to develop educational programmes that are relevant to local circumstances.
Other initiatives, all linked to the Libraries, include :
annual reading, writing and artistic competitions
cinema clubs, with a TV and DVD player, are being established in each Library
training workshops for teachers and senior pupils
an annual guidebook to Shanghai for the migrant worker parents of many of the children in these villages - 150,000 copies were distributed in 2008
scholarships to allow the best pupils to complete their final three years in high school, which are not subsidised by the state
Outcomes and lessons
Sunrise has now reported the following achievements during 2009 :
recruitment of two full-time staff and two interns for varying periods to assist in general administration and development of the organisation
establishment of a new Chinese language website for Sunrise
creation of a library of 500 films for children
in association with Tongji University in Shanghai, the design of a standard village library, already being trialled in Nantang, Anhui province
the award of Honorary Citizenship by the government of Wenchuan, Sichuan province, in recognition of its work in supporting earthquake relief projects
several successful fundraising galas in Shanghai and Chengdu
training sessions for village librarians in Shanghai and Shanxi province
All the staff and volunteers at Sunrise Library are to be congratulated for their superb achievements for 2009.
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This page was last updated on 30 December 2012.
The Blackford Trust, c/o Gillespie Macandrew LLP (B.12891.1), 5 Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, EH3 8EJ, Scotland, United Kingdom