Aug/Sept 2001

30th September 2001

Supporting Education in the New School Term

The new school term began in September, and DORS have continued with our support for the poorest children to attend school. Each year we support a portion of school fees for a number of project villages in Hanyuan where it is particularly difficult to send children to school due to the heavy burden of tuition fees. In many of these villages, children of primary school age are unable to attend or continue with their schooling. As such, DORS makes a special effort to assist with tuition to ensure that these children are given the opportunity for education.

In supporting education costs, we select those villages in which we have already implemented other poverty alleviation projects. In this way, children are still able to benefit in the short-term while other projects ensure long-term sustainability. In general, we target the poorest households in each village, primarily those children who have never been to school or have dropped out. Priority is also given to females and the Yi minority, as the attrition rates are higher among these groups.

This Autumn term, we have continued support in Banyang, Na'er, Juetuo, Fuyou, Moduo, Wansheng and Guangrong, Shashu, and Sugu villages. In addition, as part of the Kadoorie funded Integrated Community Development Programme, we have expanded our support to Wanping and Chalin villages in Pianma Township, and the Baikun and Zhongpu villages of Lianghe Township in the neighboring Ganluo County, which is part of the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Region.

In total this term, we supported a total of 274 children, 155 of which are females. The total funds for this project was 41,921RMB. We would like to thank EPWS (Expatriate Women's Society) and the Kadoorie Foundation for their support towards this project.

Micro-Projects

We have recently begun a new micro-project in Chenhe Village, where we have previously done water and forestry projects. This time the project was initiated by the women's cadre of the village, who was also a participant in June's capacity-building training workshop, to contribute towards the purchase of a new variety of breeding bull that can be used throughout the village to improve the quality of cattle by breeding with the local breed. The bull is collectively owned by the village and used by all, and the care of the bull is by one villager chosen by the others. A nominal fee will be charged for each pregnancy sustained by a cow, the profits of which will be used towards assistance to the poorest women of the village, including supporting school fees for female children.

As a counterpart to this project, we have also agreed to provide micro-credit loans to a group of women in the village in order to purchase a new variety of cows that can be used to breed with the bull. The loan was for a total of 4000 RMB that is to be managed as a collective loan by a group of 6 women, with a repayment of half the amount each year over a period of 2 years.

Autumn Tree Planting Completed in Pianma Township

This month we have completed planting for the Autumn season in Wanping and Chalin villages of Pianma Township. This season the majority of saplings consisted of walnut, chestnut, huajiao, and timber trees, as well as additional 20,000 saplings. A brief training session was provided to the villagers by Mr Bai, the local forestry expert. We would like to thank the British Council's Small Grants Scheme for their support towards this project.

An Invitation from the Governor:

DORS' Participation in the Provincial Level Poverty Alleviation Conference

Last month Rose Acock was invited by the Provincial Poverty Alleviation Office to participate in a 2-day conference on the new 10-year plan for alleviating poverty in Sichuan Province in the upcoming years. This conference was attended by all prefecture and provincial level officials. DORS was the only non-governmental foreign organisation to have been invited.

During the meeting, DORS was given the opportunity to introduce our work methods and the participatory way of implementing projects, which have been encouraged as the model for the government. We were able to discuss with other leaders different project ideas, implementation strategies, participation with villagers, working with other organisations, and how best to meet the needs of the poorest. Overall, it was a benefit for DORS to have been able to participate and exchange ideas in this conference.

The highlight of the trip was an invitation from the Governor of Sichuan Province, Mr Zhou Yongkang, to meet with him and other provincial leaders, to discuss DORS' work in Hanyuan County. Mr Zhou was interested in hearing about our work in poverty alleviation and the types of projects we do, as well as some of the problems we encounter at times. He was extremely supportive of our work and encouraged government cadres to follow our example. We appreciate being given this opportunity by Mr Zhou and the Provincial PAO.

DORS News and Information

This month we welcomed a visit in Hanyuan from two of our Trustees from the UK. Barbara and Derek Acock, along with friends and family, came to visit some of our projects. While here they were able to see our water project in Hejiang village, as well as visit some of the various projects we have in Banyang village. In addition they met with the Government leaders and the Poverty Alleviation Office. We hope they enjoyed their trip.

This month, our Director, Rose Acock, spent a month in Tibet with her new part-time position as the Senior Programme Officer with the Trace Foundation. She will now be dividing her time between working with Trace and continuing with her responsibilities as the Director of DORS. This is a new direction for DORS and for Rose, and we wish her the best of luck in her new position.

We are also beginning our search for a new volunteer for DORS. Ideally the candidate will have a degree or background in Development Studies and/or the social sciences, with fluency in Mandarin. For more information, please see our webpage at www.dors.org.uk. Any interested applicants should send a cover letter and CV to our address at info@dors.org.uk.

The Future Direction of DORS

In August, we held a Strategic Planning Meeting to discuss the changing face of poverty alleviation and the larger trajectory of DORS within this movement. In doing this, we sought to map out our specific objectives: "To facilitate the development of local communities in poor regions of Sichuan in an integrated manner that targets those most in need for long term sustainable development". With these aims in mind, we were able to identify the most effective strategies to meet the needs of villagers, and the best ways for DORS, as a small grassroots organisation, to make the greatest impact. Overall, the meeting provided DORS the opportunity to evaluate its work from the beginning to present day to outline our path for the future. If you would like minutes from this meeting, please email us at info@dors.org.uk.

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