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Yunnan - China

‘I want to be a useful person’

31 million Chinese children are attending boarding school. Luo Yunxia is one of them.

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Give-a-Day - Dream Schools
Yunnan China
Save the Children
Aug 2015 Jun 2019

11 year old Luo Yunxia is one of 31 million children living in boarding schools in rural China. She has lived almost half her life away from home. Through the GIVE-A-DAY donation BESTSELLER and Save the Children are improving the lives of children like Luo by turning their schools in to Dream Schools.

A narrow and winding road leads the way through the green mountains. Even short distances on these roads are time consuming – and can be dangerous. Bad and treacherous roads are one reason why some 31 million Chinese children are attending boarding school. Luo Yunxia is one of them. She studies, eats and sleeps together with close to 500 other students at Fuheng Primary School in Yangbi County.
Luo is 11 years old and she has been in boarding school since she was six. Her mother lives just over five kilometers away but the combination of bad roads and 12 hour school days means Luo can’t go back and forth to school every day. So instead she lives at the school.

Luo is luckier than most in the boarding school as she can see her mother quite often.

“I see my mother every weekend. The first thing I do, when I see my mother is to run and give her a hug.  But Sundays can be hard, Luo says. “I really don’t want to go back to school. I just want one more second with my mother, and I already start to look forward to the next weekend.”

For other children going home on the weekends is not an option. Poverty forces many Chinese parents to move thousands of kilometers for work and they only see their children once or twice per year. Luo also doesn’t see her father often, she says. “My father lives in Laos, so I only see him once a year. He went to work in a banana farm.”

 My father lives in Laos, so I only see him once a year. He went to work in a banana farm. 

School and friends
A school day at Fuheng Primary School is more than 12 hours. There are only 28 teachers for 500 students between the ages of 5 and 14. That makes the quality of the education poor and in general there is not much time to play.

During break time the children have fun with skipping ropes, playing catch or just walking around in the school yard. There are not many places to play but Luo has a lot of friends and she likes to play with them.

“For me it doesn’t matter how old they are. I am happy to play with all of them. My favorite place is the area with grass and flowers.”

Luo lives in a room with 15 other girls. Four girls share a bunk bed, and before they go to bed, a loud speaker reads them a pre-recorded story. In some boarding schools there are no speakers and no good night sessions. Some of the biggest dormitories have 40 children in each room. When Luo first came, her sister also lived at the school, so they shared a bed, but now her sister is attending secondary school

When Luo is asked about her future she says her focus is on performing well.

“My biggest hope is that I will become a useful person, Luo says. Not someone who just stays at home and do nothing. Our country is like our mother, so we need to pay her back when we get older.”