Update on Seng Girls, Qinghai Province – August 2018

An update on New Day’s achievements and those of your donatons to the SGVTS home and the girls who are starting to graduate

by New Day members Jane and Dan Chavasse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read Jane and Dan’s full update that includes details on the achievements of each of the New Day sponsored girls here: update for new day seng july 2018 latest

For the third year running Dockpo and the Dance Troupe will return to Hong Kong for a flash visit on October 10th. The ISF school in Pok Fu Lam have very kindly agreed to putting on a full Theatre performance with paid tickets in their new Auditorium. It’s a big theatre and we want it packed to the rafters so please mark your diaries!

Hello New Day members and friends, we thought you would be interested to see how the girls that so many of you met back in 2016 and again last year are progressing. We can also report on how some of the investments our community has made continue to positively impact the home up on the plateau. You will remember that Dan and I had the amazing opportunity to visit the home in 2014.We along with Chris and Liza keep regular contact with the local management team and Dockpo recently visited Hong Kong to update us on the latest developments for the girls and the local context. We thought you would like to see some of this detail. We really hope it shows you and anyone with whom you would like to share this, just how much your contributions via New Day have had a material difference to the lives of so many girls.

New Day has supported the Sengchemdrukmo Girls Vocational Training School (SGVTS) for Tibetan girls on the Tibetan Plateau since 2008.  SGVTS provides residential care and schooling in the local curriculum and English to 130 girls who have escaped orphanage or domestic bondage.  

New Day has provided significant capital for the school over the years. Some of the infrastructure we provided has been superseded due to the local government construction of a Museum on the grounds of the School. While this is frustrating our impact is everywhere .New dormitories paid for by New Day are now heated by us as well. The truck we funded is always quoted as “ the most important tool we have to provide for the children in our remote location”. It brings the vital fresh produce and winter stores as well as people transport. The girls now have a functioning shower/laundry block, co-funded but jolted into action by our hot water system and our advocacy for hygiene to improve health outcomes. Laundry can be done in the shower block instead of at a cold standpipe in the playground. Clothes now dry in a boiler room instead of outside where it would take over a week and may freeze! The staffroom is also in this block and this warm space has improved staff retention. The dormitories are heated at night and the portable radiators heat the classrooms by day. Health and study are both significantly improved by all reports.

With limited prospects on the plateau, SGVTS is constantly looking for ways to get the girls to bigger Chinese centers where they can continue their education and find viable job prospects. The home cannot support the girls beyond the age of 18 so it is vital they find a sustainable living after they leave.  There are around 27 SGVTS girls currently studying in international and high achieving local schools in various cities in China. As part of this thinking, Dockpo took advantage of a natural love of dance that the girls possess and started a Chinese Opera Troupe . This was the trigger for twelve girls to be admitted into a specialist performing arts school in the provincial capital of Xining in 2014.

In 2014 the Xining school awarded 12 places to the most promising girls. New Day provided the funding for the school fees and local accommodation for the girls. We also provided funds for a General Manager,Shawo ,to help with our communications and project manage some of the initiatives funded by us and provide some mentorship to the Xining based girls. However, the girls have now been able to take over these tasks and Shawo is transitioning out of his role. Dari Dorma and Yangjian Lhamo both benefitted from New Day sponsorship for some basic accounting skills. This combined with Yeshe Tsomo’s English skills and our sponsorship of additional English tutoring means that they have now achieved their goal of self management.

The original cohort of girls that New Day sponsored in Xining graduated this year. We had thought that they would move to employment in Dance or Tourism at this stage. However, having sat the Chinese Certificate for Senior School, their grades were so impressive that ten gained entry into University. Of the two who failed, one will retake her exams in a year’s time and is working locally part time to fund her year up to that point. Another has moved to Chengdu and is now a music teaching assistant. The University is in Xining and this higher qualification will give the girls access to better paid employment after three more years of study.

There are still seven girls sponsored by New Day at the Xining School and we are hopeful that five more will be given places by September if they pass the entrance exam taken back at the home. New Day will make a new Grant this year to support the seven existing places and up to twelve girls to go through this valuable journey. Separate funding will be sourced elsewhere to assist with the University places as New Day wants to focus on the proven track of the school and to open up more opportunities for more girls. We are working with Dockpo to help him plan. New Day also remains open to any specific needs back on the plateau. We will be looking at doing some separate one off fund raising events to support the University girls for those who may be interested.

Dockpo wanted to thank New Day members for their continued support and to emphasise that the Xining school opportunity for the girls has offered much more than academic advancement. It has dramatically affected his ability to get identity papers for his wards in SGVTS, it has taught the girls life skills they could not have attained up on the plateau and it has helped them see the outside world so they can make informed choices on their way forward

As Golog continues to grow as a tourism center there are good signs that the Museum in the grounds of SGVTS will open next year, the town will have its pavements back so that the café which the school owns will open and tours of the Region will increase due to the new airport. All of these developments should provide a solid employment base for the girls who want to stay and the higher educated ones who want to return as guides and translators.

If you want to know anymore about this lovely group or the possibility of visiting the School please contact Jane Chavasse at janenailor@gmail.com

 

Seng Girls Visit Hong Kong – October, 2017

Update from Jane and Dan Chavasse

New Day have supported this wonderful group of girls since 2008.  Their home is the Darlag based SGVTS school high on the Tibetan plateau housing 120 vulnerable girls.  A group of twelve girls are selected from an enthusiastic and talented school community and are aged around 14-18 years old. The Seng Girls are then sent to a specialist Dance school in Xining which gives them not only professional dance training but a mainstream education recognised on the mainland. This offers them three routes off the plateau , professional dance , tourist industry employment or further education. Interest and support of Ethnic minorities and how their Cultural histories may be of interest to Chinese tourists is growing locally but an education in Putonghua is imperative .

New Day hosted this group in 2016.  It was their debut in Hong Kong and they were very excited to be here. Dockpo, their teacher , and the girls billeted with several families who introduced them to family life in our city. We had an informal dance show from them and they drew us in to their culture and warm hearts. Dockpo always said he wanted to come back and we were delighted when he called us in September and said that he and the girls would come back to Hong Kong on October 23 for a two day visit. Just a few visas,  passports,travel permission and the usual hurdles to overcome but why let that get in the way!

As we waited in Hung Hom to collect the group we were a little concerned over how the girls would feel on their return.We shouldn’t have worried. They ran out of the station with arms outstretched and wide smiles asking after their host families and we were off. There was only one unexpected and very unwelcome surprise….Typhoon 8 signal was hoisted and remained stubbornly so! 

The New Day team had been working hard at setting up the full theatre experience at West Island, dinner was planned at Cyberport ( generously donated by New Day members Leesa and Brian Downie) and the ISF were hosting the Group on the Monday . At one point the trip looked like it could just not deliver what we had promised.That is, a new audience who may be inspired to donate, HKAPA /LCSD exposure and a professional setting that could offer the girls an opportunity to develop their dancing careers in the future. However the New Day team are not defeatists so using Greenery Gardens as a rallying point we gathered a strong local crowd who came armed with drinks, snacks and cash. The squash court provided the unlikely venue and the girls threw themselves into their costumes and gave us a highly memorable performance. Everyone adapted so brilliantly. After a beautiful traditional dance the girls lit up the room with a piece that they had choreographed themselves. With lively contemporary music and “dab” moves knitted in to the dance , the crowd went wild. Then to top it off they invited the children in the audience to join in and learn a few moves. Boys and girls alike lept to their feet and it was tremendous to see . The fun was reciprocated by an invitation from the local children to the Seng Girls to play ” football” outside as the adults enjoyed a wine or two amazed at the outcome of the day. One of the local children and a host, Grace Early , was so inspired by the encounter that she cut off her beautiful hair for sponsorship and raised over HKD 6000 for the girls.

Monday was another highlight of the Seng Girls’ trip. Roxanne Ismail had organised for the girls to give a ” masterclass ” to the Drama students at the ISF school followed by a lunchtime show to the school as a whole . It was a wonderful performance and a material introduction to the Group as the ISF wants to make them the girls the focus of fundraising and cultural exchange. Roxanne’s son already raised over HKD 9000 is a jumper sale with product donated by the Italian women’s association. They also called for a warm clothes collection and gathered 22 suitcases of great quality clothing that the girls managed to get back to Tibet to distribute with their fellow students from the little four year olds all the way up to the teachers. It should also be mentioned that local parents also generously gave to this collection.Thank you.

Finally we bade the Group farewell on Tuesday morning. The Girls have developed much in the last year with English levels and dance skills tangibly stronger. Many of them will graduate next year and will hope to keep their ambitions for sustainable careers alive. We hope to see them again next year and we will keep everyone posted on their development. They are truly grateful for the support they receive and we can feel proud that we have set some of the foundations for them going forward.

New Day makes grant to Seng girls in Xining School of Performing Arts – Update August 2017

New Day makes grant to Seng girls in Xining School of Performing Arts – update from Dan and Jane Chavasse

This week New Day made a further grant to the Seng girls studying at the Performing Arts school in Xining. This is the fourth grant to this group of students-covering their fees and living expenses for another 12 months and comes with the news from Dock Po that the girls have been selected to attend a prestigious Beijing dance school this summer. It is wonderful that as the girls reach their final year at Xining that their talent is being recognised at a national level and hopefully this will lead to career opportunities when they graduate. Sadly, three girls have not made the grade and will leave the school but this underlines the meritocratic philosophy that was explained to them on arrival. Dock Po is confident that he can find them employment and the grounding they have had at the school has been vital. New Day are also supporting two further (slightly older) girls in Xining who care for the core group. They are on a computer studies and leadership course. We are delighted that the objectives of the program that New Day has been supporting for the last 3 years are broadly being met

SGVTS School update

In the school on the plateau in Darlag there are now 130 girls. Many New Day members generously donated warm clothing and funds for radiators and insulation, as well as a water heater. Dock Po reports that the girls came through a freezing winter as well as ever and that ‘there was not one case of frostbite’. It is telling that this is the measure of success in these brutal conditions.

He has appointed a new headmaster who has made some changes to the teaching staff and he reports that morale is high and the girls are in good spirits. Part of the challenge is attracting talented teachers to work in such demanding conditions and he has managed to appoint some nationally qualified female teachers who are making an impact already. Dock Po has secured high school places in Jigdzi for a further 11 girls who are reaching the end of their time in Darlag, for which he may require funding. This is a crucial part of his role-securing places in further education to allow girls a choice in their future. Many do indeed return to the plateau, but they return with transferable and marketable skills – and the opportunity to move away from abject poverty as nomadic herders.

We are delighted that Dock Po plans to visit Hong Kong on 15 October with the same group of girls that visited last year. He is very keen to meet New Day members and also for the girls to put on their show. 

 

 

Update from Seng Girls studying in Xining – April 2017

New Day continues our support of the 14 Seng girls studying in Xining – 12 studying dancing and art at the Xining Performing Arts school and 2 older girls studying computer studies and also charged with caring for the younger school students.  We have received their school reports and the girls’ grades are good, all receiving positive reports from the school.  You can look at their reports here:14+Students+Report+20170110

Part of our funding also pays the salary of DockPo’s project Manager and right hand man, Shawo, who lives in Xining and keeps a close eye on the 14 girls.

It has been a bitterly cold winter up at the Seng Girls’Home and School on the Golog plateau with DockPo and the girls snowed in for the past few months.  The heating system that New Day installed in October last year has made a real difference to their comfort throughout the cold weather.

 

 

 

New Day provides new heating system for Seng Girls’ Home – November 2016

After tireless research and planning by New Day members Dan and Jane Chavasse, New Day and the Seng Home settled on a plan to install a sustainable heating system at the Home in Golog where winter temperatures can reach minus 40 degrees Celsius.  A grant of HK$55,000 was made to the Home in November.  The system involved placing insulation panels inside and outside the dormitories and classrooms (as seen in the photos below) and upgrading the boiler to power radiators throughout the rooms.  A positive side effect of the installation will also be a warmer laundry room where the girls can wash their clothes during the winter months.

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LOVEQTRA Seng Girls’ Home Update – September 2016

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DockPo, Founder of the Seng Home, with the 14 girls studying at the Performing Arts School in Xining.

Seng Girls’ school celebrates 10 year anniversary! – Dan Chavasse

During the summer this important milestone was reached and to mark the occasion the girls were bused about an hour away from the school to celebrate amongst the Tibetan grasslands. The anniversary coincided with the Dari County celebration and the girls enjoyed 3 days of feasting and watching traditional Tibetan sports, whilst camping under the stars. The school’s Opera Troupe also performed – a source of great pride to the some 160 girls that are now under the founder Dock Po’s care.

As many members know, New Day have been supporting the school since 2008 and we have just authorised a further grant for 2016-17. This will be spent on the 14 girls who have graduated to the Performing Arts School in the regional city, Xining, paying their tuition fees and living expenses. This is their third and final year at the school before they graduate with recognised qualifications, so important in their next step of embarking on a career. Many will seek work as professional dancers, but the school also teaches all the core academic subjects. Twice a year, we receive each girl’s written report and progress continues to be strong across the majority of the girls that we support. The school sets high standards and does not allow poor performance-fortunately all the girls have retained their places moving into the final year.

At weekends the girls share a flat in Xining and New Day pays the rent and covers their living expenses, as well as supporting two older girls who are on vocational training in the city and act as the girls’ guardians.

Dock Po is incredibly busy with day to day management and so requests for feedback were often overlooked or delayed. In light of this, earlier in the year New Day agreed to fund the salary of a man called Shawo who acts as an administrator and finance manager for the school. He is based in Xining and since his appointment communication has improved enormously. 

We are currently working with Shawo to evaluate how we can improve the heating situation in the school in Darlag. Temperatures in the winter can drop to -40 degrees and so water based central heating systems are prone to problems. The girls frequently wash their hair and clothes in the open yard with cold water from a standpipe. We hope to have a cost effective alternative for members to consider funding before the onset of winter.

We have just had a very positive update call as the school continues to grow and develop. Best of all – the girls are coming to Hong Kong! New Day members have had a profound impact on these girls’ lives and due to the remote location of the school, Dock Po is acutely aware that he has only met a handful of members. He really wants to showcase his girls dancing and meet members first hand so he can share some of the heart warming stories that make supporting projects such as this one tangible and worthwhile. Hopefully as many as possible can meet him and the girls on Sunday 23 October for a performance followed by a picnic supper at Deep Water Bay. More details to follow!

 

LOVEQTRA, China February 2016 – End of Term Update from 14 girls studying in Xining

End of Term update from the girls New Day supports at the Performing Arts School in Xining, Qinghai province – Dan Chavasse

We have just heard that all the girls had an excellent First Semester, with most passing their professional majors (ie. dance or painting). Sadly, three failed and they will now be given additional tuition to help with the re-takes. We have been sent all the girls’ reports and the grades are generally very high, even in the core academic subjects of Chinese, English and Maths. Inevitably there are some weaknesses but the school and the charity we support are focused on rectifying these. As ever, we must not forget the academic mountain these girls have had to climb to be awarded a place in this prestigious school and they now compete with peers from more comfortable, urban backgrounds. The goal is a nationally recognised high school qualification at the end of the school year in 2017: this will hopefully facilitate their passage into either further study or employment.

On a lighter note, the girls will be appearing on TV over Chinese New Year! With the full support of the Performing Arts School, their Tibetan Opera continues to gain notoriety around the country and they have been filmed for a performance that will air over the coming weeks. Here are the latest pictures:

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New Day continues to support Performing Arts School girls in Xining, Qinghai Province – September 2015


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In September 2015, New Day funded a grant of USD 33,092 to support a group of 12 girls for the academic year 2015-2016. This is the second year that we have supported this group of girls who are receiving a core education alongside their studies in dance and painting. This second grant was agreed after we had received detailed reports on each girl on their progress so far. Some have found the step into formal high school education a major challenge as they are usually behind in core subjects and have to work hard at weekends to close the gap. Nevertheless, significant progress has been made and the school extended the offer to each and every girl to continue in the program, in itself a major achievement for the group. If they continue to thrive they will be awarded formal certificates when they graduate in 2017, allowing them to have infinitely more choices than had they remained as yak herders on the plateau (the fate of most girls in rural Tibet). These certificates will be recognized across China, allowing the girls to apply for further education or jobs in all geographic areas.

The girls live in the school during the week and share an apartment at weekends. This apartment has been developed into a training area as well as a living space (this development was funded by New Day in last year’s grant). This year’s grant will cover

-Tuition fees

-Living expenses

-Apartment rent

-Living and tuition costs (in another school) for 2 further (older) girls who support the core 12. They cook and clean for them when they return to the apartment at weekends.

Members of New Day will recall that this cohort of girls originate from the Seng Girls  school in Darlag, Golog, which is about 12 hours drive away on the Tibetan plateau.  This school is run by Dockpo (and his charity LOVEQTRA) and continues to flourish with some 160 girls from desperately impoverished backgrounds, the poorest of the poor. As well as core educational skills, the older girls are given vocational training in cooking and tailoring as well as the all-important Tibetan Opera troupe that tours China in the summer months. The major challenge is finding opportunities for the girls as they get older. Some are being educated in Shenzhen (at Project Eden http://captivating.org/blog/category/project-eden/), some have returned to schools in their home towns, seven are training to be medical assistants and New Day’s group of 12 are the pioneers at the Xining Performing Arts school.

Below are some pictures of the girls in their apartment:Desks Beds 2 girls at desk 2 girls at desk

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February 2015 Update – Our 14 sponsored SGVTS girls at the Xining Vocational Art School

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In October 2014 New Day gave a grant to LOVEQTRA for HK$203,000 (RMB159,000) to support 14 SGVTS girls through a year of training at a vocational art and dance school in Xining. By way of background the Beijing Government is promoting and encouraging cultural preservation and history and millions of dollars are being invested throughout China to promote a cultural dance performance known as the King Gesar Opera.  Thanks to the efforts of DockPo who runs the SGVTS school, many of the girls have become talented dancers of King Gesar Opera and these 14 girls have been given an amazing opportunity to further their skills. Not only that, at completion of their 3 year scholarship program, these girls will start being trained to run and manage an office of the King Gesar Opera in a capital city.

The girls live and study at the school during the week and then return to their New Day sponsored apartment on the weekends for rest and further study.  All 14 girls are working hard to stay on top of their academic studies while devoting themselves to the rigorous dance training (and for some, art training).  We received this letter from one of the girls, Yeshetsomo, thanking New Day for our support and explaining her passion for dance and her need to also focus on her academic achievements.

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This is not an easy path for the girls but the hope is that they will be able to support themselves in the future and help promote SGVTS as a training ground for increasingly talented Chinese Opera dancers.

You can read more about the general progress at SGVTS in the LOVEQTRA 2014 Annual Report here:LOVE REPORT 2014

Other SGVTS news: We are grateful to New Day members Dan and Jane Chavasse for organising a donation of 13 computers (donated by PWC China with help from Michael Page China) and 75kg of winter clothes and other supplies for the girls in Xining and Darlag.

2014 New Day Grant and Visit to Seng Girls Home and School (SGVTS)

In October, 2014 New Day was delighted make our 5th grant to SGVTS for US$26,000.

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The girls gather outside before the start of the day.

In September, New Day members Dan and Jane Chavasse traveled to Xining in Qinghai Province, China and then up to the Tibetan plateau in Darlag County to visit the girls at SGVTS and spend time with the schools’ founders Tra DockPo and Philip Poh.  You can view a slideshow of their visit here:

New Day has been funding SGVTS since 2008 and this is the first time members have been able to make the extensive trip there and experience life at the school and in the extreme conditions on the plateau. We are grateful to Dan and Jane for committing their time and personal funds to make this happen and delighted it was such a positive experience for them and that they returned so impressed with how SGVTS is transforming the girls’ lives and inspired to do more.

SGVTS now houses and schools 150 girls aged 5-18 years old.  These girls have all been rescued from a life of child labour as yak herders, abusive home situations or orphanhood.  They are cared for, housed and given an education.  With limited prospects on the plateau, SGVTS is constantly looking for ways to get the girls to bigger Chinese centers where they can continue their education and find viable job prospects.  There are around 27 SGVTS girls currently studying in international and high achieving local schools in various cities in China.  SGVTS started a Chinese Opera Troupe with their girls and they are now performing in locations around China and improving these viable vocational skills for the future.

New Day member Jane shows the girls her photos.

New Day member Jane shows the girls her photos.

In September 2014, 14 SGVTS girls were accepted into the Xining Performing Arts School (Xining is the capital of Qinghai province and a 12 hour drive away) for a 3 year program that includes dance and art vocational training along with the standard academic curriculum.  This is an invaluable opportunity for the girls to develop real like vocational skills that will ensure them secure employment when they graduate.  Dan and Jane visited these 14 girls at the school and at their new accommodation.

The 14 new students at the Performing Arts School in Xining in their new apartment.

The 14 new students at the Performing Arts School in Xining in their new apartment.

Based on our members’ feedback and discussions with the SGVTS staff New Day is now funding all school and accommodation costs for these 14 girls for the coming academic year.  We are happy to be able to give the girls a treasured education and real skills that will open up many future opportunities for them.

Our Visit to SGVTS in September 2014 – by Dan and Jane Chavasse

Ten days in Tibet

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Dan and I were looking for something to channel our commitment to help a worthwhile cause. Through our friends and the dedicated Liza and Chris we found this amazing initiative in Tibet, SGVTS. New Day were looking for someone to go and take a look at the work being done and the results of their donations to date. We were to also gain a closer appreciation of what the most pressing needs were going forward.

Sitting with a wine in my hand in the comfort of my flat it seemed a no brainer to travel to Tibet. We had the time and we thought the energy. However, after committing ourselves to the trip I will admit to a growing trepidation. I am a worrier with a finely developed ability of seeing potential disaster in the most mundane of adventures. This was not always the case but ironically this is because I am a Mum. I could imagine all sorts of ways that I was about to orphan my kids in the name of helping some other children. We had been warned of altitude sickness, earthquake potential, Monks self immolating and landslides not to mention the lack of alcohol on the plateau! However as the amazing journey unfolded all these fears (clearly unfounded) peeled away to reveal a truly great land with fascinating people.

We flew to Xian from Hong Kong one morning and then boarded a train to Xining. The journey would be twelve hours overnight. The train station was chaos and Dan and I were the only westerners. After much pointing, pigeon Mandarin and walking to the wrong counter a few times we were safely ensconced in the “ First Class Lounge” to await departure. When it was time to board several smiling but urgent staff ushered us to the train clearly concerned that the big noses would get lost! Armed with pot noodles, biscuits, fruit, coffee, cards , books, Candycrush and the crossword we were off!

The train was great, clean cabin for four people, flat beds all boding well.Yes, we thought, we can do this “roughing it thing”.

Pulling in to Xining, a “small “ provincial town of about two million people you begin to see one of the many paradoxes of this Region. Forests of high-rise apartment blocks line the railway on either side…all-empty. The pace of development here is breath taking as is the rural poverty. The Chinese have brought many good things to the Region such as telecommunication and electricity but not all of their initiatives are needed or welcome. What is clear is that everyone is trying to work with them rather than against them contrary to what may be the perception outside Tibet.

We booked into a hotel and gave ourselves a couple of days to acclimatize to the 2500m . On the morning of day three we were met by the two men behind SGVTS and Loveqtra, DockPo and Philip. DockPo presented us with the traditional Tibetan scarf, the Kata and we all introduced ourselves. The welcome was warm and relaxed and the chemistry between the two men was palpable. Both sported ponytails , one passionately Christian, one solidly Buddhist both 100% committed to helping other people and remarkably laid back. It became evident over the week that you need these qualities to make things happen here and deal with the consequences when they don’t.

They were to take us to the Performing Arts School where they had campaigned tirelessly to obtain entrance for 13…well actually 14 but more of that in a bit. They were clearly nervous and briefed us carefully on the visit as the school authorities had been initially reluctant to allow us in.

We were greated with great ceremony and introduced to the Headmaster,two Deputy Heads ,and the Party Secretary who clearly had overall responsibility. All the conversation was in Chinese and Tibetan and Philip did a gallant job at translating their comments and our questions. The school team are clearly very proud, and rightly so, of this impressive campus. We saw the dance studios with some more established students rehearsing. The dormitories were neat and bright . We also saw the Art rooms and therein lies “ number 14”. As the final admissions formalities were completed back in the Summer , Dockpo just popped a lovely little girl into the process who just happened to be deaf and mute …..into a drama school! He could see a chance for her to develop her nascent skills in painting that had began to surface the year before. No better example exists to show how optimistic, opportunistic and determined Dockpo and Philip are for their girls. She is to be taught how to paint the Buddhist Tanka which will guarantee her a living in the future as few have this skill.

We then went to meet the girls and they greeted Dockpo and Philip like long lost Uncles which is how they address them. After hugs there were questions from both of them like “ are you working hard?”, “are you ok?”, “how’s the food?” “ are you looking out for your sisters” etc and that’s when it hits you. These are children just like ours. They have the same needs, the same ambitions and the same emotions they just had a really rough start. They are not just part of a charity project and you just want, as any Mum or Dad , to do everything you can to meet those needs. It is very clear that Dockpo and Philip are in this for the long term. Even so,  they constantly plan for the independence of the girls and this school plays a very important part in empowering them to that goal.

New Day’s agreement to fund this initiative was sincerely appreciated by DockPo and Philip as they had been turned down by several other channels and had taken a chance by enrolling the girls before they had any confirmation of funding as they would have lost the places.

If this cohort works well the school will open its doors to more students from SGVTS. This has been the pattern when girls have been sent to other educational institutions outside Tibet. They work very hard as they truly appreciate the opportunity that has been afforded to them. A flat has been leased in the town in Xining for these 14 girls and others who may visit. It will be staffed with teachers on weekends. The girls will board at the Performing Arts School all week and then come to this flat and be tutored so that they can catch up on the years of academic study they have missed. In three years time they will sit the Chinese Certificate and together with hard won identity papers arranged by Dockpo and his supporters they have a future in mainstream China.

The following day Philip drove us for nearly 10 hours up to the School in Darlag, the main base where New Day’s funding has been aimed to date. He had only just arrived back from Yushu where he supports Loveqtra’s other work supporting Earthquake victims , so it was very kind to undertake another gruelling journey.

The scenery was awesome in the true sense of that word. Over 10 hours we travelled through a landscape that at once was the Grand Canyon with magenta, sheer rock faces, through scenery akin to the velvet clad Scottish highlands only to turn the corner and believe you were in the dunes of Saudi Arabia and finally the snowy peaks of Nepal. We never bored of looking out of the window. The human element was equally amazing with vehicles of all natures driving on the wrong side of the road straight at you and the occasional jam caused by Yaks being herded across the road. Then you begin to see the little girls and young women. They are the ones out on the bleak hillsides from dawn until dusk driving their animals across the pastures. They then return to the Nomad tents and collect Yak dung to make the evening fires and so on. Their habitat is extremely remote and they just live with immediate family or the family into which they have been sold. There is no education for these Nomads and no other children to play with. One of the children we met later was to tell us that the best thing about the school is that she has friends who have had a similar background and who understand her.

Philip gave us a rich background of history and cultural context as well as his own experience and motivation for the work he has dedicated himself to. He also had a wonderfully eclectic music taste ranging from Hymns to Seventies disco to Rock. All in all a very entertaining ride

After a quick bowl of noodles and a plate of Yak meat in a local restaurant we entered the school. By now it was dark and we were shown to a very comfortable guest room inside the grounds. It even had under floor heating, the only room in the school to offer such luxury. As we settled down for the night we had our first glimpse of the girls. They had moved a cassette player into the courtyard and were spontaneously dancing and singing in the cold drizzle of the evening. Others were just dashing about and there was a lot of laughter and smiling. This was not for our benefit as they did not see us peeking out of our window. For all the physical signs of their infrastructure needs this is a happy place.

We were taking altitude sickness tablets due to the rapid assent from 2500 m to 4500m. We were tired and certainly did not charge about but did not suffer the effects of the altitude too badly .I would describe it as a hangover…so lots of previous practice at handling those symptoms. We had been warned that we would have an early wake up call and so it was. At 6:30 am the girls get up and run around in formation on the basket ball court to warm up and get them selves ready for the day. Then they do some chores such as sweeping and taking out rubbish before lessons start at 8am.The older girls help the little ones get ready. We did see some teeth cleaning but personal hygiene is still a long education process here. The latrines are very basic and unclean and there is only one hose with running water for the whole school, so no hand washing is done and body washing could be monthly. There is a new shower block going in but Dockpo and Philip are keeping their fingers crossed that the water from the boiler will flow when temperatures fall to minus forty degrees over the winter. We have sent up some alcohol hand sanitizer and a simple slide on why hand washing before eating would be good. The overall health of the children is good although there is a constant sound of coughing and running noses are the norm. If one gets sick they all do.

We went to the staff room for some hot milk tea with Dockpo and some of the teachers at breakfast. They rolled barley floor dough into there tea but we stuck to good old cereal bars! We then embarked on a tour of the classrooms. The little ones have two small dark rooms in serious need of renovation and are looked after by one very overworked lady passing between the rooms. There was much giggling and fidgeting as you would expect at this age but they tried really hard to look at their books as we went in. Dockpo and Philip would like them to have more playtime but there are no toys and limited space. They know this is an issue but it is low on their priority list as long as the children are safe and well and are starting to learn.

The older children are in bright new classrooms and they hang attentively to each word the teacher says. They are all wrapped up in layers of clothes against the cold. To add to the teachers’ challenges they may have a class where the age range could be from 12-18 but they sort by ability. Attracting and retaining teachers is by far and away the schools major issue. The remote location, relatively low wages and private status of the school all play a part. Dockpo and Philip work very hard on creating the best environment they can for teachers and have just hired a retired Head Master to raise standards and help coordinate efforts to improve teaching levels in the medium term. We met this wonderfully enthusiastic man who is putting in discipline around standards and this will yield powerful results if they can get the staff.

Dockpo an Philip are totally focused on providing the girls with what they refer to as “ a last chance”. This is ensuring that some of the older children are either given access to secondary education off the plateau to help them integrate and progress in mainstream China where employment opportunities are greater .Others will be equipped with an employable skill. They have a computer room and aim to give the girls basic skills in this field. The school is approved by the local legislature and is providing a level of primary education equal to the state but has the freedom to add to the curriculum, hence English. Later this year they will convert two of there rooms to a sewing room and cookery class . They had a teahouse to train in aspects of basic hospitality but that is temporarily closed due to a government scheme to widen the road which has lead to the shops in this area being shut down for an indefinite period. The Government are also building a six storey Museum to King Gehser right in the middle of the school. Dockpo can’t challenge this. He has, however been promised that the girls can run it when it is finished. That could be another year away. Meanwhile the girls have to tolerate living in a building site. It is these situations that are beyond their control that the two men show such fortitude over.

At 10am the school gathers outside for exercise (prescribed by state) and an assembly where announcements are made.it was our chance to see them all together and appreciate the responsibility the school has taken on. There was much organizing of the little ones into uniform lines by the older girls then they were off into a well rehearsed routine that went like clockwork, quite amazing to watch.

Another highlight of that day was the chance to “ interview “ two of the senior girls. One was their first Graduate who had just returned from a placement in Beijing at a secondary level. She was waiting to go back to another placement and had ambitions of completeing a degree and returning here to teach. The other girl had been in Guanzhou and her English was very good. She was waiting to see if an English focused College could be found for her. Dockpo and Philip had concerns that her work ethic was slipping amidst her teenage development so they had brought her back to make sure she appreciated the advantage being offered to her. Again an example of how these men look carefully at each individual as parents and ensure they are on track.

The chat with these two girls was great. They talked about the warmth and security of the community. They had chosen English names…somewhat of a relief to us as we could not pronounce the Tibetan ones. One was Linda and one Paris! It was Paris who referred to the relief of coming to a place where her orphan status and lack of education when she arrived was nothing unusual in this special sorority. Nomads and Ethnic minorities face significant discrimination. They clearly felt this was home with all that that word represents.

Dockpo and Philip admit that they can’t help everyone brought to them as some just don’t want to work to change their lives. Their pride in the girls that strive to improve themselves and those around them is very obvious. As testament to their success the waiting list for the school stands at 170 girls .You can see that they would like to take in all the girls they can but they know that to maintain the standard of what they offer and by default the value they can only help those they can fit into their facility.

We stayed at the school for three nights. We watched the girls doing their laundry by the hose,then watched the same laundry attempt to dry out on lines strewn over the campus…in the rain. It did dry eventually. We watched them line up patiently for three hotmeals a day. Finally we watched them at play and had fun videoing them and playing the tapes back to them.We sincerely wished we could have spoken their language but we were made very welcome.

Finally Dockpo treated us to an unparalleled tour of the local area gaining access for us to the innermost sanctuaries of the Monasteries. We had tea with the Monks, saw their Sky burial sites and were given a deep insight into the cultural complexities and paradoxes of this Region. Gold plated Temple roofs juxtaposed with tented encampments housing subsistence farmers who may nevertheless drive an SUV ! Little novice Monks playing football with the local Nomadic kids, both groups with very different prospects ahead of them.

Dockpo drove us back to Xining at the end of our tour and the trip was no less exciting than the journey up as the landscape transformed under the different light. We stopped off at the Provincial Capital so that Dockpo could check on the status of his applications for the girls’ ID papers. We met up with Philip back in Xining to have a debrief and left them with the sure knowledge that we will stay in touch with these very special people.

The whole visit was a sensory overload. You look at one level and see insurmountable barriers to providing these children with the warm, clean and safe haven they deserve. You can think of so many things that would transform this environment…running water, better latrines, new dorms, a drying room, a playroom etc. However, it is very clear that there are few quick fixes here and mobilising supplies and services in Tibet is no easy task.  So you see the pragmatic approach taken by the founders who don’t look at the issues through a Westeners eyes. Therefore they look at what is critical to keep the girls going through to independence. They know how far they have come from when Dockpo initially gave up his home to provide a shelter for 30 girls. Both he and Philip have made significant personal sacrifice to realise their ambitions for this vulnerable group. New Day’s support has gone a long way to helping in this and they feel a close connection to the Charity and it’s personal approach driven by Liza and Chris.So in addition to the large scale donations New Day make to specific projects at the school they will always want warm clothes, educational toys , sunscreen, sanitizer , stationary etc and all members can get involved with gathering and sending these materials. We have a postal address so we can send English letters to the Senior girls to give them a connection and some practice. Packages are more tricky and really need to go from Shenzhen but where there’s a will…

We would encourage anyone with the time to make the trip to this amazing place. It requires a bit of stamina, cereal bars, wet wipes and Tupperware (detail on request ) but what a privilege.

Dan and Jane Chavasse.

 

 

 

 

LOVEQTRA update 2013/2014

Girls from the LOVEQTRA SGVTS school at a fundraiser in Shenzhen, October 2013.

The SGVTS school and home on the Tibetan plateau now houses and educates more than 140 girls, up from the 30 girls they first cared for when New Day began funding them in 2009.  25 girls have been sent to study outside of Golog in various cities and in 2013, 2 girls were accepted into an International School in Guangdong. Chris and Liza Green traveled to meet these two girls along with another of their classmates in October 2013.  We also had the opportunity to meet with another major funder of LOVEQTRA, Captivating International.

Meeting Justine, Alice and Stella from SGVTS in Shenzhen, October 2014.

In order to become more self-sustaining SGVTS opened a tea house and small guesthouse in 2013.  Both enterprises are growing nicely.  You can read more about all the encouraging developments at SGVTS in the 2013 LOVE report (full of beautiful photos of the girls and their various achievement): LOVE Report 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Day Grant to LOVEQTRA – June 2013

New desks and chairs for all the students.

In June 2013, New Day made a 4th grant to LOVEQTRA for their Seng Girls Home and School in Qinghai province.  A total grant of HK$ 225,500 was given for the purchase of a multi-use truck and new furniture for the school classrooms.

Girls unloading supplies from the truck.

The truck is big enough to transport the girls and haul supplies.

LOVEQTRA founder and school head TraDockPo motivated the need for the truck as follows: “This is absolutely essential to be able to bring very sick girls, who can not really sit up for 10 hours drive in a local bus, efficiently and quickly to Xining. We need to drive to Xining at least twice to 4 times a month to do basic shopping of fresh vegetables and other essential foods. They cost less than ½ here and in the winter times we save even more as prices shoot up in Golog due to roads being almost often blocked. We have been wasting far too much time and money trying to use taxis and hiring trucks to transport things over here. Having a good 4 wheel Pick up truck with snow chains would increase the chance to have more wholesome healthy food and yet save much money if we buy it in the City. Even while being in the city much time and money is wasted by taking taxis to different shops, there is no way to lug all the shopping in local buses.”

We are pleased that this donation has made such a difference to operations at the school. In September we received a wonderful update on life and developments at the Seng Home, written by some of the girls.  You can read it here: SGH Sept 13 update

 

Computer Donation to LOVEQTRA

Computers arriving at Renngin Charitable School for Orphans in Guinan County.

New Day funded the packing and transportation of around 20 used computers from Shenzhen to the Renngin Charitable School for Orphans in Guinan County – part of LOVEQTRA’s network.  The computers were donated by the Global Sources company in Shenzhen and the donation was facilitated by the Hinrich Foundation and Captivating International.

 

 

 

Update on SGVTS Girls Home and School, October 2012

Girls dancing on new walk ways

The construction project funded by New Day in June 2012 is 80% complete and will resume in May 2013 when the weather warms.  The school now has pathways that can be cleared of snow and used by the girls year round, a shed for coal storage that will be roofed next year and front gates and a paved pathway at the entrance to the school.  You can read an update report sent from the Home, as well as a profile of one of there students, here:

Report on construction progress and clothing donation Oct 2012

Sonam Drolma story

 

Shed for storing coal

Beams for main gate at school entrance with paved pathway

 

 

 

Update on SGVTS Girls Home and School, June 2012

Girls at SGVTS wearing the clothes sent from Glenealy school PTA in Hong Kong.

Thank you to New Day members Scarlett Mattoli and Roxanne Ismail for collecting uniforms and winter clothes from the Glenealy school PTA and the International Schools Foundation parent body.  Bags of clothes and shoes have been sent to the SGVTS in Qinghai province for the 120 girls who attend school there.

New Day funded a third grant for SGVTS in June 2012.  The grant of USD20,000 will be used to fund a storage room for coal and food, walking pathways around the school and home and locking gates at the school entrance.  You can read more on this funding request in the SGVTS 2011-2012 New Day proposal.

SGVTS Girls Home and School, Qinghai province – China

Girls at LOVEQTRA

Click here: Loveqtra2 to see a slideshow.

Our involvement and funding of the girls at the Sengchemdrukmo Girls Vocational Training School in Darlag County, Qinghai, continues in 2011.  SGVTS is a home and school that welcomes disadvantaged Tibetan girls who have often been rescued from a life of domestic bondage with no educational opportunities or hope for the future.  LOVEQTRA is the organisation that founded and runs the home.  They are also involved in disaster relief, senior care and medical assistance efforts in Qinghai.

After many obstacles in 2010 remitting money to Chinese NGOs, we were finally able to fund a heating system and washer/dryer for the home.  This was co-funded by our partner Silvercrest Foundation.  As a washing machine was subsequently donated to the home, LOVEQTRA will be using the remaining funds to build a laundry, canteen and new kitchen.

At a meeting with LOVEQTRA founder Philip Poh in Hong Kong this year we were pleased to hear of the progress of a number of the SGVTS girls, some of whom are now studying at better provincial schools and even at the Guangzhou Foreign Language School.  Please have a look at the LOVE REPORT 2010 for more information about the fantastic work they are doing.

We hope that New Day members will finally be able to visit SGVTS in 2011!

LOVEQTRA Girls’ Home Funded!

On the 23rd of August New Day co-funded a CNY118,518 grant along with the HK-based Silvercrest Foundation for the Sengchemdrukmo Girls Vocational Training School in Qinghai province, China.  The grant will be used by LOVEQTRA to install a heating system in the school and home as well as to purchase 2 industrial washer/dryer machines for the girls and staff.  This will be the first time that the girls will receive proper heating as they have had to rely on simple yak dung heaters in the past.  They will be able to improve their standards of hygiene and health by being able to wash their clothes and bed-clothes regularly whereas before they had to hand wash everything only a few times a year in the freezing stream.

SGVTS Building

This is the second grant that New Day has made to LOVEQTRA.  We wish them continued success with the wonderful work they are doing and we are happy to be a small part of it!  Thank you to the Silvercrest Foundation for partnering with us.

LOVEQTRA Girls’ Home

Girls at LOVEQTRA

In late February New Day approved a second grant to LOVEQTRA for the installation of a heating system in the girls’ home and school as well as the purchase of an industrial washer/dryer that would allow all the residents to regularly wash their clothes and bed clothes.  We secured co-funding from the HK-based Silvercrest Foundation and transferred the money to Qinghai.  Unfortunately the funds arrived on the 2nd of March a day after Beijing had implemented severe restrictions on the foreign funding of local NGO’s.  LOVEQTRA was not able to withdraw the funds from their account and they had to be repatriated to New Day in Hong Kong.  We are very sad about this and remain committed to LOVEQTRA.  We are currently looking for a solution to getting the funds to them but will have to wait until the situation calms down.  For details on this project you can have a look at the funding proposal we prepared for Silvercrest Foundation here;

LOVEQTRA proposal for Silvercrest Foundation

Final report from LOVEQTRA on New Day funding for the Sengchemdrukmo Girls Home in Qinghai province, China

Ingrid Sun received the final report from LOVEQTRA on their use of the HK$98,000 in funding they received from New Day in June 2008.  They used the money to equip a new kitchen to feed the girls, construct a dining room table and benches where the girls eat their meals and complete the construction of the 3rd storey of the Home.  This 3rd storey space will house computers for the girls.

Have a look at the report for more details.  It is full of photographs of the Home and the girls.  final-report-for-new-day-sgh-nov-20081

Thanks, Ingrid, for all your hard work on this project!