When an employee from Decorative Paints in Langfang, China mentioned the ‘Langfang City Special Education School’ and his mother’s weekly voluntary involvement by cleaning classrooms, his colleagues quickly agreed to choose this project for support from the Community Program. The school houses 500 physically as well as mentally disabled children in the ages from 4 to 13 years old. From the mother our colleagues learned that that the Government funding was not sufficient to realize specially required facilities for the children.
The school’s principal was contacted for more background information. He was pleased to invite a delegation of our employees to the school on which occasion he explained about the blind, deaf mute and other mentally handicapped children who come from various places in the Langfang area. The children are mostly from poor families who cannot afford the high treatment and educational costs. Even visits to the children are scarce in view of the travel expenses.
Our colleagues were informed that the teaching methods had not been updated for a long time. Every day the radio is turned on for the blind children. With just one radio and an average of 14 blind children, the need for more equipment was obvious. As for the mentally handicapped children, usually the teachers play games and tell stories to develop their intelligence. Only the children had to crawl on a cold tile floor as funds lacked to install rubber flooring. For the deaf and mute children a multimedia classroom is used to play videos to teach the language to the children in an easy manner. Also here only one multimedia classroom was available. Physical education is the children's favorite course, but more teachers and volunteers are needed to help them use the sports equipment to prevent injuries.
After hearing about all the problems facing the Special Education School, our colleagues in Langfang were very keen to roll up their sleeves. Together with one of the school teachers they prepared a plan to help solve the main problems on the short term. At the end of December two days were planned for the 25 volunteering employees to create a 15 square meters vegetable garden including a fence, restore a ten meter long ‘blind road’ as well as install the necessary safety markers and a rubber floor. During the work the volunteers even found the time to communicate with the disabled children which they found very rewarding. ‘We were very impressed with the positive reactions of the children’, said Bruce Han, who coordinated the project. ‘I am sure that we will continue our support in the future by for instance setting up a slide in the playroom so that the children can play inside during the cold winters. Another idea is that the school will teach our employees the basics of simple sign language and Braille to be able to better communicate with the children and help them in the future’.
This was the first step to help pave the road for these poor children’s future. Our enthusiastic colleagues decided to continue their support in 2013. After they visited the school again they made an inventory of the most important items that needed to be renovated, like the walls, the rusty fence around the playground, etc. The idea arose to include more volunteers and as students are ‘the masters of future society’, they contacted the two key universities in Langfang: Langfang Teachers University and the North China Institute of Aerospace Engineering’. The students were glad to help with drawing the special pictures on the walls and early September three of our volunteers went to both universities to pick them up by bus. When the other employees arrived at the special school a brief ceremony was held and work could begin.
Twenty-five employees and some students cleaned the railings around the playground and repaired the wall. The other fifteen volunteering colleagues prepared the paints together with other students, while the entire operation was coordinated by the five remaining employees. The entire work took three days and in the end the students picked up their pencils to draw an outline of a cartoon pattern such as the red sun, white gulls and a green field. It was a huge job but knowing that 380 disabled children would not only enjoy the colorful walls, but would also learn from the gymnastics in the pictures, motivated all involved to finish everything in time. Plans were already made to join a sports event at the school later this year as our colleagues really started having a bond with the children and the school. We will certainly be hearing from them again!