Char­ity project cap­tures life in the Guizhou coun­try­side

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By YANG JUN in Guiyang and DU JUAN in Bei­jing

Wang Bangbi, 30, and his class­mates have taken more than 5,000 fam­ily photos for free in poor vil­lages in Guizhou prov­ince since 2012 in the hope of giv­ing those peo­ple a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence.

With his team, com­posed of pho­tog­ra­phy ma­jors from Guizhou Nor­mal Univer­sity, Wang has vis­ited 16 re­mote vil­lages in the past five years, tak­ing photos of poor fam­i­lies. For many vil­lagers, it was the first time they had had their photo taken.

Wang is from an im­pov­er­ished fam­ily him­self — he was the last one in his class to buy a cam­era due to fi­nan­cial con­straints.

“In 2009, my mom used money that was sup­posed to be for buy­ing her medicine to buy me a cam­era worth 12,000 yuan ($1,750),” he said. “How­ever, I will never have the chance to take a fam­ily photo for my fam­ily be­cause my mom died two months af­ter she bought me the cam­era.

“It was so up­set­ting for me, and it is what gave me the idea of tak­ing pic­tures for poor fam­i­lies like mine.”

In July 2012, Wang con­tacted sev­eral stu­dents, who sup­ported his idea and col­lected 3,300 yuan by working part­time jobs.

They spent the money on pa­per, ink and other ma­te­ri­als. Then, they went to the vil­lages of Zhongzhai and Duoque in Guizhou’s Li­u­pan­shui city, car­ry­ing cam­era equip­ment, tents and food ra­tions.

“In the begin­ning, no­body be­lieved us,” Wang said. “We showed the vil­lage com­mit­tee an in­tro­duc­tion letter from our univer­sity, and it wasn’t un­til we gave some young vil­lagers photos that we took of them that peo­ple be­lieved we were do­ing it for free.”

On the sec­ond day, vil­lagers showed up wear­ing their best clothes, wait­ing in a line and hop­ing to have their first-ever pic­ture taken.

That was the 11-mem­ber team’s first char­ity trip. They walked for three hours in the moun­tains to reach the area, lived in tents and ate meals of com­pressed bis­cuits.

“We didn’t want to dis­rupt the lives of lo­cals,” Wang said.

Soon, many more stu­dents at the univer­sity wanted to join the team.

“Ev­ery mem­ber of the team can gain some­thing from the char­ity trips, es­pe­cially when they wit­ness the sin­cer­ity in the smiles of the vil­lagers when they see their photos,” Wang said.

LONG DAIBING / FOR CHINA DAILY

A fam­ily in Li­u­pan­shui, Guizhou prov­ince, poses for a group photo. Wang Bangbi’s team has taken more than 5,000 fam­ily photos for poor vil­lagers in Guizhou since 2012.

SUN CUIPING / FOR CHINA DAILY

Two chil­dren show off their smiles for the vol­un­teer pho­tog­ra­phers.

WEN SHUANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A mem­ber of Wang’s team shows his photos to two sis­ters.

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