Primary school teacher Ye Jiali pities Xiao Lu, an otherwise excellent student who faces the unappealing proposition of dropping out of school because her family cannot afford to pay her tuition fees.
As the youngest of four daughters, 11-year-old Xiao understands how difficult it is for her parents, both of whom are factory workers in Xili, Shenzhen, to raise a family on a low income.
"I hope the government can do something to help children like her, regardless of whether they are local residents or migrants," Ye told China Daily.
But help could be on the horizon. A new charitable fund that will target impoverished women and children in this southern city will be reaching out to people like Xiao Lu, according to the Shenzhen Women's Federation (SWF), the fund's sponsor.
The city's first such charity fund was officially launched last Friday with an injection of 2 million yuan (US$274,000) - 600,000 yuan donated by Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwan-funded IT manufacturer; 500,000 yuan from the SWF; and 900,000 yuan from various women's associations and community groups.
"The fund will accept donations from the community and would like to raise another 10 million yuan in the future," Dian Chunli, a spokesperson for the Shenzhen Charity Association, said. The nongovernmental, nonprofit organization will co-manage the fund with the SWF.
According to its mandate, the fund will be used to help poverty-stricken single mothers, laid-off female workers and impoverished families with particular difficulties.
It will also direct funds to women who have fallen victim to domestic violence as well as women and children in need of emergency aid because of poverty or severe illness.
Dian said beneficiaries will not have to show their hukou, or residence permit, to secure assistance.
According to a survey by the SWF, the city was home to 5,260 households overseen by impoverished single mothers in 2006. Of the total, nearly half were migrants.
"We pledged to make good use of every cent to make sure poverty-stricken women and children are able to benefit from the country's economic development and live happily," Hu Liqun, chairwoman of the SWF, said.
Zhou Xuejun, founder of the city's only website for one-parent families, (www.re-love.net), lauded the new fund, saying the model could be repeated in other cities and countries.
"Many single mothers are very vulnerable and need extra care from the community. Whether they are able to live happily and healthily will directly affect their children's lives," Zhou said.
(China Daily March 4, 2008)