Dates: April 11-14, 2016
Location: Taiyuan Yangqu County
Visiting Staff: Aiju, Guan Ying
Organization: Shanxi Yong Qing Consulting Services
Main Places Visited: Cheese factory, Summer camp, and Medical department
1) The Cheese Factory
The factory is located about 15 km (about a 20 minute drive) from Taiyuan Yangqu County. The staff makes cheese every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Each time, about 22-23 batches of cheese are made, using 185 kg (400 lbs) of milk.
Milk is provided directly by a local farmer. The farmer raises about 20 milk cows near the cheese factory, and 200 kg of milk are yielded daily.
Under normal circumstances, cheese making is done independently by the staff. Marc trained them through every single step of making cheese. He still comes to supervise them at times.
These are the display racks. Most of the cheese was made a month ago and has yet to mature.
Although the staff does not wear gloves, as long as they are in contact with milk, they must disinfect their hands and forearms.
The two houses currently rented to the cheese factory need to be taken back by the farmer because he needs them for his own use. They are building 5 new houses in front of the original house. It will be leased to Marc. The farmer will pay for the building cost, but the renovation cost and rent will be paid by Marc.
2) Ka Zhi Greeting Cards
Ka Zhi creates greeting cards that are mostly Bible related. The cards are made of imported materials and mostly sold to foreigners who live in the surrounding areas. The project started in 2004 in Nanjing with a Christian artist who was hired to help with the designs.
Since the beginning of the project, Ka Zhi has trained more than 100 women who come from rural areas. There are currently more than 30 regular workers. Their training is done in the office, which takes about four and half days. After 2-4 weeks of practice, if there are orders, workers are able to work at home independently.
Besides talking with the project manager and staff to learn about their project, we also visited one of the worker's homes. It was about a 20-minute drive from Yangqu.
This lady is over 60 years old. Her husband passed away three years ago. She was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Her children are all living in the county. She lives on her own to minimize the burden for her children. She is currently the best worker and is also able to train new workers.
3) Summer Camp
Marc is also responsible for the summer camp, which is held at the former cheese factory site. There have been five staff since 2009. They hold an annual winter camp (for two weeks) and an annual summer camp (for 6 weeks).
There is a theme each time, and all are based on English. The goal is to help children learn English in a relaxed environment. The camp mostly focuses on children who are from Taiyuan and from 8-18 years old.
There are also children from other cities, but not as many. Most of the foreign teachers applied through church and went through a screening process. All the volunteers need to stay for two weeks and need to be at least 18 years old.
There were more than 30 children who attended the winter camp held in January 2016. There were 15 volunteers and 10 foreign teachers. For the summer camp in 2015, there were an average of 50 children for six weeks.
In July 2016, they plan to enroll 60 children per week for six weeks with 20 volunteers and 15 foreign teachers. They have already started enrollment. Because of their relatively large space and because their facility is better equipped, all the children, volunteers, foreign teachers and staff can stay at the camp.
In addition to their annual activities, the camp works with some local organizations to do short-term activities.
These 4 photos above show the outside of the camp.
4) Medical Department
There are 3-4 foreign doctors at the medical department, including a rehabilitation doctor. Every year they do free home visits or rehabilitation treatment for 70-80 people who have lost their independence for daily living. At the time we went they were about to leave for the country to do a home visit for a 14-year-old with cerebral palsy.
The child's home was not too far, about a 30 minute drive. The rehabilitation doctor helped the child do different exercises and talked with the family.
Two foreign doctors opened a medical clinic at the Yangqu County Hospital. They take turns seeing patients Monday through Friday mornings. The doctors don't charge the patients or the hospital.
Original report written by Ai Ju and Guan Ying, translated by Cindy and Shawn, edited by Carolyn D.
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