Message from the Founder –
Dear EGRC Friends. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, I would like to send my congratulations and best wishes to all our female donors, supporters, friends and, of course, EGRC students and alumnae.
This is a special day to cherish our rights and opportunities. 120 years ago women did not have the right to vote and most did not have the opportunity to benefit from formal education. Over this time frame, women have fought bravely for those and other rights. The #MeToo movement has taken awareness of women’s rights to a new level and further challenges the world to hear their voices.
On this special day, I would also like to acknowledge the men who are loving and supporting fathers, grandfathers, sons, brothers and husbands. Women in your lives need your support to go further and achieve more!
“SAY NO” Campaign
Starting from March 8th, International Women’s Day, EGRC launches its inaugural “SAY NO” campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to empower our girls, through knowledge and confidence, to SAY No when they encounter sexual harassment or abuse. The campaign was initiated by the EGRC Alumni Association and our China team.
We care about the girls and their well-being which includes both physical and mental health. The campaign includes online courses provided by professionals, videos, reading materials and group discussions targeting our university students and alumnae. Due to limited internet access, the training for high school girls will be held in person in late spring. Their parents will be invited to participate.
Rise Up to the Epidemics
The 2020 Lunar New Year is bound to be remembered. Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the entire population of 1.4 billion have been affected.
Besides the isolation, anxiety and inconvenience which everyone is experiencing, the country’s medical staff are working tirelessly on the front lines and facing the risk of infection virus every day. Grateful citizens are calling them “angels in white”.
These angels include EGRC graduates who are working in various hospitals as doctors and nurses. Their stories during this crisis deserve to be heard.
Dr. Wen Xia Tian is a pediatrician who works at the Affiliated Hospital of the Gansu University of Chinese Medicine in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province. In China, there is a shortage of almost 90,000 pediatric doctors. For every 1,000 children, there is only 0.57 pediatricians and this ratio falls to 0.48 in rural regions.
The hospital where Wen Xia works treats more than 10,000 patients each week on normal days. The hospital does not have a fever clinic but since the outbreak of the epidemic, Wen Xia’s department has taken on the task of treating patients with coronavirus symptoms.
“The second day after New Year I received the emergency call from the hospital. I left my baby with my mother at home and went back to work.”
Wen Xia is the mother of two young children. Her daughter is 28 months old while her son is 8 months and is still breastfeeding. Early in the morning on January 26th, three days after the lockdown of Wuhan, Wen Xia returned to work, leaving the two children in the care of her parents.
Due to the critical shortage of supplies, Wen Xia’s department in the hospital has not been able to get adequate protective gear. She kept working on the frontline without much protection.
During these days it has been Wen Xia’s routine to pump breast milk and keep it in the fridge. After the highway was closed, she needed to use an alternate highway and drive 200 kilometres one way to the meeting point where her father waited to collect the milk.
I cried so much when I saw the nurse in Huoshenshan Hospital bowing in the direction of home to say a final goodbye to her dying mother.
Gansu is known for having the lowest GDP per capita in China. Among all the EGRC sponsored university students, more have chosen to study medicine than arts, business and science. They witnessed suffering from illness and accidents of their family members. Wen Xia said: I wanted to become a doctor because I want to have the ability to relieve my family from the pain of illness.
However, when the epidemic emerged, Wen Xia chose the patients over her family. She cried when she saw the nurse of Huoshenshan Hospital bowing in the direction of home to say the last goodbye to her dying mother.
Director, let me take on the duty of fever clinic by myself.
The hospital Wen Xia works is not a coronavirus patient designated hospital, at times it was not very busy. The hospital has arranged 24-hour shifts for the doctors who cover the conventional clinic, fever clinic and in-patient departments.
Wen Xia knows that after doing the shifts her colleagues need to do 14 long days of self-quarantine before they could go home and see their families. It is hard to bear for her colleagues and their families. Under this situation, Wen Xia selflessly said to her director: “My children and parents are in my hometown. I am in Lanzhou alone. Let me take on the fever clinic duty by myself.”
There are other EGRC alumnae who work in hospitals in various cities. They have left their families behind and are working on the front lines treating coronavirus patients. Let’s cheer them on and wish them a safe return to their families and loved ones once the crisis is over.
“Dear EGRC sisters, please take precautions and keep yourselves and your families safe. The darkest time is just before dawn. Let us keep faith. We look forward to the moment that we can take off the masks and embrace each other.”
COVID-19 Challenges Our High School Girls
Schools all over China have not been able to resume classes since the winter break due to the novel coronavirus crisis. Hundreds of millions of students are stuck at home. During the second week of February, the Ministry of Education gave permission to all schools to start online teaching. Since then schools have adopted different online platforms and started teaching. The well-known online platform Ding Ding has gained millions of student users. All students with adequate access are enjoying studying at home.
However, this sunshine did not reach some corners of the country, including certain remote rural regions. Most EGRC high school girls belong to families with an annual income of less than $2,000 and have various other family challenges to deal with as well. From the photos posted here you can see that they are learning in spite of the poor conditions.
None of them owns a computer and a majority have no smartphones or desks. Some of them borrow phones from their parents, relatives or neighbours; and others get together to share a single phone.
The girls facing the biggest challenge are the ones in Grade 12. The “gaokao”, China’s formidable national university entrance exam, can determine the academic – and economic – futures of these girls and is not far away.
Our Dedicated China Team
From Left: Candice Zhao – Director of Operation, Daisy Gong – Senior Program Manager, Christine Zhou – Director of Development Shanghai, Elise Li – Director of Development Beijing Alina Lang – Program Manager
I am most impressed by and admire our dedicated China team members by their response to the COVID-19 crisis. Since the outbreak, regular working patterns have been significantly disrupted. But this has not impacted their dedication to the cause of EGRC. Together we have regular meetings online and strategy discussions on how to deal with this unexpected situation as well as the regular business of feature planning, organizing online learning, reaching out to individual high school students and much more.
Most impressively for me has been their ongoing efforts despite the challenges of these times, to launch the SAY NO campaign. I feel truly fortunate to have such committed and capable young women working for EGRC. They are real leaders and role models for our girls.
Hope you have enjoyed reading the news.