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    Map of Areas Served

    The maps show the areas served by Blessing Hands - Guangxi Province of China and pinpoint Yangshuo and Qinzhou. Guangxi is at the extreme South colored in green. In the map above Betty Cutts is pointing to Qinzhou.

    Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region

    Located in the western part of South China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has a land area of 230,770 sq. km (89,100 sq. miles) but 70% is mountainous and hills. The total population in 2004 was 48.99 million with 18.68 million of minority nationalities. Minorities make up 38.21% of the total population. The 11 nationalities include the Zhuang, Han, Yao, Miao and Dong.  15.5 million are Zhuang.

    As one of the border provinces containing a great variety of nationalities, Guangxi has 49 poor counties across its regions with 28 of those under the State Poverty Reduction Program. There are a total of 4,060 poor villages. It is estimated that 27.3% of the rural villagers are low-income. Per capita annual net income of rural residents is 1,865 Yuan, or $273 US. Per capita disposable income is 1,487 Yuan, or $217 US for rural residents.

     Guangxi has made great progress in poverty reduction since the government’s 1993 “8-7 Anti-Poverty Plan” was implemented. The 8 (80 million people) 7 (for the 7 years to the year 2000) program set a goal to lift the 80-100 million remaining poor out of poverty by the year 2000. From 1978 to 2004, the people having difficulty with basic living demands changed from 21 million to 960,000. Through this program the poverty level in Guangxi Province went from 70% to 2.4% and living conditions in poverty stricken areas were greatly improved. 

    The economic and social development still lags far behind and most rural villages in mountainous areas still suffer from poverty. Between 1995 and 2002, the Southwestern China World Bank Loan Project was a prominent anti-poverty force in the area by giving $113.5 million US. Many non-government organizations have stepped in to help make a difference in the area including World Vision, Oxfam Group, and Action Aid.

     In 2000, the population structure by sex and age showed there were 11.78 million people aged 0-14, representing 26.24% of the region’s total 44.89 million people; 29.91 million aged 15-64, 66.64% of the total; and 3.2 million aged 65 and over, 7.12% of the total. The total dependency ratio reached 50.08%, of which the dependency ratio of the young was 39.38% and 10.70% for the aged. In 1990, the sex ratio (the number of males born per year for every 1,000 females) was 110.3 but in 2000 it was 112.68, increasing 2.38%.


    Yangshuo County

    Yangshuo is an ancient city, over 1,400 years old, built during the Sui Dynasty (AD 590). It is famous for its spectacular scenery of hills and rivers. The Li and Tianjin rivers run near the town. Yangshuo’s 300,000 population consists of a variety of nationalities; Han, Zhuang, Yao, Hui are just a few. The dominant language spoken is Mandarin Chinese, although many speak English. The county is 551.4 sq. miles and has 49,421 acres of land used for agricultural cultivation. It has six towns and three rural areas (villages).

    The weather in Yangshuo is subtropical with consistent rainfall. The weather is divided into four seasons – spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Summer and autumn are usually dry and warm (70°F).  Summers are hot, humid and rainy (80°F - 100°F), while winters can be gray and wet with temperatures of 40°F - 60°F.

    Tourism is the lifeblood of Yangshuo County. Yangshuo is a world-class tourist city receiving 2.8 million tourists a year. There are hundreds of tourist boats that carry passengers from Guilin to Yangshuo – a 40-mile journey. Yangshuo offers over 200 restaurants and hotels, an outdoor drama, the spectacular karst

    mountains, and caves for exploring.

    Other industries in Yangshuo County include agriculture, bamboo processing, marble processing, fruit selling and animal feed processing. Mineral resources are lead, zinc, iron, ore, manganese, marble, and limestone. There are 180 species of wild animals, including the famous raccoon-dog and pangolin. Food products such as kumquats, chestnuts, persimmons, and pomelo are plentiful.

    Transportation is by bus, bicycle, motorcycle and open taxis. Traffic on main two-lane roads can be chaotic and secondary roads are rough. Some rural roads are impassable after a rain. Boats traverse the rivers. Trains and planes are available an hour away in Guilin.

    Cell phones are plentiful and Internet is available in every town and most hotels. Students are not encouraged to use the Internet. However, some lower and upper middle schools have Internet access for supervised research and sending emails.
    Postal service is available in the towns. Postage stamps are glued on by hand in the post office. In rural schools postal service is not easily accessible. Delivery of packages and letters between the United States and China can take weeks.

    The city of Yangshuo has an efficient, abundant water system that can supply 7,000 tons per day and yields hydroelectric resources of 8,380,000 kilowatts. However, rural schools have only wells dug by hand. Water must be boiled before use.

    Medical facilities consist of two town hospitals and a community hospital in each of the nine townships. The villages have small clinics called “cooperative medical services”. There are only 480 hospital beds in all of Yangshuo County. Our sponsored families report medical bills are a constant burden and many family members won’t seek medical treatment for lack of money.

    A lasting impression of Yangshuo County is the primitive conditions the farmers live under. Due to the uneven terrain, using tractors and other laborsaving machines are not feasible. All people farm as their ancestors did centuries ago – by hand and oxen. Not surprisingly, many peasant farmers still tend to hold traditional beliefs that all members 

    of the family will work in the fields. The average land area for our sponsored student’s families is 1.68 hectare (4.2 acres).  Farmer’s account for 78% of the population (260,000) and raise citrus, vegetables, peanuts, and rice. Rice crops are harvested twice each year with an annual yield of 100,000 tons. Peasant farmers sell some of their crops in nearby town markets but most is used to feed the family. Farmers have experienced great difficulties with crop failures in 2008 caused by a 50-year winter freeze and unusual spring flooding.


    The 2007 average annual income of a farmer in the Guangxi Province was 3,224 Yuan ($472.32 US). The highest per capita income per year of our students is $247 US, while the lowest is 0. Most are far under $247 US. In Yangshuo County it costs about $443 US for a lower and upper middle school student to attend school for one year. Yangshuo County has about 148 schools; 117 are primary schools. All are mostly located in rural areas. There are 15 lower middle schools and 5 upper middle schools. Many schools were built by the Hope Project, which is a national education foundation supervised by the government. 


              

     

    Yangshuo, Guilin, Guangxi Province


    Yangshuo Primary Schools

    Yangshuo County has about 148 schools; 117 are primary schools. All are mostly located in rural areas. There are 15 lower middle schools and 5 upper middle schools. Many schools were built by the Hope Project, which is a national education foundation
    supervised by the government. 

    Blessing Hands serves the children of rural Yangshuo and Qinzhou, 

    China. Often family households will 

    include many generations including children, parents and grandparents. Typical household responsibilities for younger children are to care for the livestock and carry water. Older children work the fields. Clothing is washed in rivers in many villages. The family homes have outdoor latrines. Rooms in the home have one
    electric bulb hanging from the ceiling, satellite TV, and electric fans. Family
     

    members sleep under mosquito netting.




    Yangshuo Middle Schools

    Students begin to board at school from the age of 12 or 13. Younger students that live far from school will also board.  The student’s time at school is productive and busy. The school day begins with mass exercises. Students attend morning classes until noon at which time lunch and a rest period occur. They return for afternoon classes and are kept busy at night studying, washing their clothes, and cleaning the classrooms and living quarters.

    Living quarters are dorm rooms, which house up to nine same-grade students in one room. Each grade selects class monitors who have great leadership roles. 


    The good of the group is considered above the rights or needs of the individual.

    Classrooms are not

    heated. Fans and open windows are the rule in summer. Class sizes are large and schedules can include night and weekend classes. Students are expected to sit at attention with their hands on their desks when not writing or reading. 

    Teachers live at the schools and often serve as substitute parents.

    The teaching curriculum revolves around academics and rote learning. 


    Teaching is focused on tests that will be taken by students to determine their future. Lower middle

    schools consist of three grades. These students must test and score at a set standard to advance into upper middle school or high school as it is called in the USA. Higher test scores place students in better schools. Upper middle is three grades. 

    A national college exam is given annually at the end of the third year.  Students who do not pass the exam will remain at their upper middle school for an additional year. Students who pass with low scores may enroll at a vocational school while students with high scores may enroll to college.

     



    Qinzhou City and Region

    Qinzhou 

    The Qinzhou Prefecture has a population of 3,485,600 made up mostly of the Han nationality. Qinzhou is an area spanning 4,142 sq. miles and includes several counties. The city of Qinzhou, which is the capital of the prefecture, sits on the Bay of Tonkin. It is famous for its blue dolphins and seaport. The city has grown immensely in the last four years sprouting wide streets and tall buildings.

     Qinzhou has a subtropical, oceanic, monsoon climate. Long summers and relatively warm winters characterize weather. There are six months (late April to late October) during a year when its monthly average temperature is above 72°F. Summer and autumn are damp and hot. June and August are the peak periods of rainfall.

    Industry in Qinzhou includes tourism, farming, grain cultivation, hog husbandry, fruit growing and fishing.The rural life in this area is very similar to the Yangshuo farmers with the addition of banana and sugar cane crops. The land is not as hilly and is more suitable for farming.

    The families of Blessing Hands students from this area average a little higher per capita income than in the Yangshuo area. $984 US is the highest per capita income reported by one of our Qinzhou students. But most are much lower at about $300 US. The expenses of the lower and upper middle schools are higher in the Qinzhou area, as well.

    Qinzhou, Guangxi Province

    Du'an is the center of Yao culture and is in a self-ruling Yao area of China. The Yao nationality is a government classification for various minorities in China. They form one of the 55 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China, where they reside in the mountainous terrain of the Southwest and South. They also form one of the 54 ethnic groups officially recognized by Vietnam. In the last census, they numbered 2,637,421 in
    China, and roughly 470,000 in Vietnam.

    Du'an, Hechi, Guangxi


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