Project pro­vides study spa­ces for kids in need

Home ren­o­va­tion pro­gram aims to give young stu­dents a place to read and do home­work

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By LIWENFANG in Guangzhou liwenfang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A 12-year-old boy, sur­named Yin, used to do his home­work bent over a low ta­ble in the 30-square-me­ter home he shares with his mother, older brother and sis­ter in Tuhua vil­lage in Guangzhou, Guangdong prov­ince.

Ev­ery other sur­face was cov­ered with books and bric-a-brac.

“My mother and I even sleep in the same bed. There is no place to put a desk,” he said.

All that changed in early Septem­ber, when a study cor­ner equipped with a new desk, chair, book­shelf and lamp was in­stalled ready for Yin’s first year of ju­nior high school.

“I like it. Now I have a place ofmy own to study,” he said.

Yin is one of six stu­dents to have ben­e­fited from a project ini­ti­ated by Guangzhou Qic Work Ser­vice Cen­ter, which ren­o­vates dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren’ s study ar­eas in the city’ s Haizhu dis­trict free of charge. Each ren­o­va­tion costs about 4,000 yuan ($600), with all the money do­nated by cor­po­rate foun­da­tions and in­di­vid­u­als, ac­cord­ing to Zhong Yong­shi, deputy direc­tor of Qichuang’s depart­ment for youth.

A de­sign firm and con­struc­tion com­pany have even of­fered to do some of the work for free.

The new study ar­eas not only al­ter the way a fam­ily’s liv­ing space looks, but also “help the chil­dren build their dreams”, Zhong said.

Although Yin’s brother and sis­ter only grad­u­ated from high school, their mother still takes pride in their aca­demic achieve­ments and has hung ev­ery certificate they have re­ceived since 2005 on the wall, to en­cour­age all her chil­dren to study hard.

“In so­cial work, we have a con­cept called ‘per­son-in-en­vi­ron­ment’. A ded­i­cated area im­proves the study­ing at­mos­phere and helps a child be more de­voted to their stud­ies,” said Gu Jiangxia, a pro­fes­sor with Guangdong Uni­ver­sity of Fi­nance and Eco­nom­ics’ depart­ment of so­cial work.

Another boy, sur­named Huang, 14, cher­ishes his new study cor­ner so much that he does not even al­low his fa­ther, a con­struc­tion worker from Jiangxi prov­ince, to use his new desk and chair—de­spite the fact they are right be­side his par­ents’ bed, said Liu Cuimei, his mother.

His school teach­ers and so­cial work­ers thought that he might have a speech im­ped­i­ment, ac­cord­ing to his mother. But it has im­proved since he started to have reg­u­lar vis­its from a so­cial worker, she said.

“My son talks very lit­tle, but he be­comes ex­cited and happy when we tell him so­cial work­ers are vis­it­ing us,” she said.

Li­uadded that the par­tial ren­o­va­tions to their 20- square-me­ter apart­ment in Jian­bei vil­lage, which in­cluded free stor­age shelves and boxes, had en­cour­aged her to keep the place ti­dier than be­fore. The apart­ment is in a seven-story build­ing sur­rounded by nar­row al­ley­ways, webs of elec­tric­ity wires and un­san­i­tary con­di­tions.

“Some of the fam­i­lies did not care much about their liv­ing en­vi­ron­ment be­fore the project. We told the par­ents the project is not only meant to cre­ate a com­fort­able study space, but also to en­cour­age them to take ac­tion,” Zhong said.

“Home does not mean merely a place for the chil­dren to sleep after work, but also a place to live.”

Pro­fes­sor Gu said that tidy­ing a home can have a pos­i­tive psy­cho­log­i­cal af­fect on its oc­cu­pants, im­prov­ing both fa­mil­ial re­la­tions and par­entchild bond­ing.

Qichuang plans to help 14 more fam­i­lies with the project, but needs ad­di­tional do­na­tions for the de­sign and con­struc­tion work.

“We then hope to carry on the project to help more fam­i­lies,” Zhong said.

ZHONG YONG­SHI AND CHEN YOUZI / FOR CHINA DAILY

From top: A cor­ner at Yin’s home in Tuhua vil­lage in Guangzhou, Guangdong prov­ince, where the boy stud­ies, be­fore (above) and after be­ing ren­o­vated by Guangzhou Qichuang So­cial Work Ser­vice Cen­ter.

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