One Helps One program celebrates 20 years

Liu Yi, the One Helps One program coordinator for the Cao Hai Nature Reserve, distrubutes funds to students in January 2017.

The One Helps One program was initiated by the International Crane Foundation and Cao Hai National Nature Reserve in 1998, with the goal of helping local children with basic education. The Cao Hai Nature Reserve is located in Weining County, the poorest region in southwestern China’s Guizhou Province. Tension has been high at Cao Hai between the local community and the nature reserve regarding the often competing priorities of natural resource use and protection. As a result, an additional goal of the program has been to help improve the relationship between local people and the reserve.

One Helps One Program, China
One Helps One students in 1998.

In the early years of the One Helps One program, the economic situation at Cao Hai was very poor. Local traditions favored education for boys over girls, resulting in a high drop-out rate for young girls. This project, therefore, has focused on selecting female students from poor families who have demonstrated that they work hard in school. When first selected, the students are normally in second or third grade. Each student receives$20 to $50 a year, which covers tuition and other fees. Since the project started, more than 100 students have participated in the program, 95% are girls. Some of the sponsored students have completed high school and gone on to colleague – a wonderful achievement!

In recent years, the local economy at Cao Hai has improved. The central government also has implemented a Nine-year Compulsory Education policy through middle school, which waives all tuition and other fees for rural students. As a result, the One Helps One program is now a scholarship fund for the students.

The One Helps One program has received great support from participating schools. Also, the Cao Hai Farmer Conservation and Development Association, a group of local community members, has been intensively involved in the programs since its establishment. The association has worked on student selection, monitoring and management.

Mr. Wang Honglin served as the One Helps One coordinator from 2001 until his retirement in 2004. During this time, he visited all of the student’s families and worked hard to keep the sponsored students in school.

‘One Helps One’ literally means that one family or individual sponsors one Cao Hai student. The majority of the sponsors are from the United States and Canada. In January 2017, 30 students received a total of 6230 RMB (US$890) from the One Helps One fund for the 2016-2017 school year. Of the 30 students, 29 are girls and one is a boy. The students are first through 12th graders. The students are studying at two elementary schools, Dongshan School and Baima School, Weining No.4 Middle School and Weining Technical School.

The One Helps One program provides economic assistance to participating families. And, it has brought love and hope to the children. Using this opportunity, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the families and individual sponsors of this program.

Get involved! To become a sponsor for the One Helps One program, please email info@savingcranes.org.

Li FengshanStory submitted by Dr. Li Fengshan, Black-necked Crane and Yangtze River Program Leader and Liu Yi, One Helps One Program Coordinator, Cao Hai National Nature Reserve. Click here to learn more about our work in East Asia.