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Zhuzhu and Her Village Library

China Today,October 08, 2017 Adjust font size:

Changing the Local Concept of Education

Zhuzhu often tells teenagers, “I won’t object if you want to become young migrant workers in big cities, but the outside world is not as good as you imagine.” She shows them pictures of migrant workers’ living spaces and working conditions.

According to Zhuzhu, being a migrant worker helped to realize many of her childhood dreams. For example, she had been longing to live in an apartment, so was happy to find her dorm on the sixth floor. At home her grandma had seldom allowed her to have instant noodles, only half a bag each time, which was never enough, “but it’s exhausting to climb six stories after a long working day and at the end of the month, when I was short of money, I always ate too many instant noodles which made me sick at the thought.”

In May this year, Zhuzhu was given a grant of RMB 50,000 from a non-profit organization to cover her salary and the daily expenses of the library; but she did not list the rent when she applied for the money. “The mothers always offered me money when they came to the library or the club, but I refused. Many villagers sincerely support the library, but I think it’s still too early to get paid for running it,” she explained.

On the evening of June 11, 2016, she posted a message on her WeChat Moments: “Although I don’t know whether I can raise RMB 2,500 for the rent, I still want to try… This time, I hope the villagers can help. No matter how little you are able to give, I hope you can participate.” By noon the next day, she had raised RMB 2,651.98.

Zhuzhu wants to set up a WeChat group to gather together all the people who support her ideas. Then she wants to find 100 people who can donate RMB 50 to the library at the end of each month. She will publish details of how the money is spent and of the activities to be held in the library. It is like crowdfunding. In her mind, “It’s more about connecting people than fund-raising.”

Whether it be the mothers’ club or activities, Zhuzhu always wants to act as a binding force. She wants to change the villagers’ dismissive view of education. When the parents’ concepts are changed, the children will benefit.

As well as working in the library, Zhuzhu also helps poor students in the village who are on the verge of dropping out of school. With her help, 11 found sponsors in a Beijing company. She also wants people in the village to help each other. She looks for these people cautiously: “It must be people who are reliable, those who will not show off about their donation in case they hurt the feelings of the children they are sponsoring.” At present, nine children have found sponsors in the village.

Ever since she returned home to work in the library, what Zhuzhu hears most is: “You helped me realize my dream.” The words come from villagers who used to be migrant workers, volunteers from non-profit organizations, as well as people who have helped her. They all think it is wonderful to build a library full of happiness and hope for rural children.

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