The Migrant Childrens Foundation

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Greetings to you all,

Let's rewind to last Tuesday then where Andy had round 2 of the bowling league, bowling as usual for Andy but no outstanding high scores to report this time….. better luck tomorrow hey!!

I decided to meet a friend called Jane at 'Green Drinks’. Anyone concerned with green issues in Beijing get together once a month at the local bookshop / café to discuss such issues. I was a little late (I can blame you Mum & Dad for this!!!!), so I walked up the stairs thinking it was just a social gathering, when I heard people talking on a microphone, walked in the door, one guy was introducing himself in a room full of about 45 people, the next minute the microphone is thrust into my hands to do the same! Not knowing what this was all about really or what others have said, I made a joke of hoping that I was in the right place and that I’d lived here for a few months and my name, then threw it to someone else! How embarrassing! An interesting evening after that, an open mike forum really where people posed questions about all things green, for others in the audience to answer depending on their professions & knowledge, stuff about food safety, pollution, re-cycling etc. and as a resident now for a few months, you do find yourself wondering about such things. One topic of conversation was about how the government pump the heating into buildings during the winter, starts & finishes on a certain day no matter what the temperature, and most buildings aren’t thermostat controlled & you end up with windows open even when it’s minus something in the winter, 70% of all energy is lost through buildings here. With that happening I can understand why. Means we don’t have a heating bill to worry about – just the a/c in the summer we pay for.

Thursday we popped to Paddy’s for a beer after work, met our friend Al then got a takeaway pizza from the new place around the corner, surprisingly Andy who doesn’t always really like pizza & has to be in the mood for it, loves this one – very happy! But it’s a bit too easy really!

Friday I had my very first appointment in the afternoon, a little nervous I have to say but it was someone who we know who is lovely and very relaxed, and was interested in what we did, so it was a good educational meeting to tell him all about it, which I really enjoyed. I’m going to put something together then meet for a second meeting next week hopefully. Andy had 2 meetings on Wednesday too where we’re hoping to get some business from another agent as they want to change over to us. One meeting was in the basement of a hotel, the other on the 80th floor of the same building, on a clear blue sky day – very nice, it’s the tallest building in Beijing at the moment. He also had another meeting on Friday which was a second meeting with someone so fingers crossed that will work out too.

Friday night was Internations wine tasting, a girl had put together a group of about 40 of us to taste Spanish wine at a tapas bar near us, with some food pairings and a presentation about the 4 wines. A very lovely relaxing & social evening.

Saturday morning we got up very early, 7am……. We had signed up a while ago to volunteer for a charity called ‘Migrant Children Foundation’

You can read about it here but they are a charity who teach migrant children in schools around Beijing. Many migrants come to Beijing from the other Provinces and the countryside, once they leave their place of residence they lose their right to certain things such as healthcare and education. The charity helps to teach English to some of the children who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to learn. There were 2 regulars & about 6 volunteers. We met at a subway station then caught a bus about an hour South of the city (cost us 10p each, bonkers!). The journey was rather mad, very busy for the first part & not the best driver in the world!! Good to see different parts of the city too.

We arrived at the school and went into the classroom, 45 children all waving, smiling & saying hello! The teacher covered things like the alphabet with them, and we helped by giving out stickers for example, or encouraging the kids to join in and talk English. They had break time so we played things like football, ping pong, skipping etc. They were about 8 years old but all very different level of learning, after break we covered families and they had to draw theirs and write the English name, Mother, Father etc. Some  drew hardly anything whilst others drew whole families & were works of art, again more stickers presented and some assistance & encouragement from us. All very good fun, and a few hours later we were back on the bus, shattered & glad we didn’t have a hangover as it was pretty hectic!!! Felt good for doing it though & enjoyed it, you can volunteer as little or as much as you like so we may do it once a month perhaps, I can also do a Friday afternoon as well & get more involved in the teaching, so once work has got to a certain level & I can justify it, I may do that too occasionally. We’ve been looking at volunteering at other charities too, maybe an orphanage but to be honest, we’ve both been tearful even reading some of the websites, so goodness knows what we’d be like there! Probably no help at all!! Either that or we’d come home with 5 kids!!

Back to town and had a wander around an Ex-pat expo which wasn’t really exciting. Andy had a night out with the boys & I fancied some ‘me’ time and a quiet girlie evening – I wandered off about 6pm to the market where they have loads of nail bars, and had a pedicure and a foot massage which was lovely. Came back home & had some wine, got a pizza from around the corner (see, far too easy!) and watched PS I Love you, and cried my eyes out!! I’ll let Andy tell you another time about his boys night out but let me tell you it involved watching a wet T shirt competition!!!!! Needless to say he had a good time!!

Sundays are for brunch of course, so 8 of us met in one of the hutongs near the Lama Temple which is only one stop on the subway – fantastic food at the Vineyard Café and sat there catching up for a few hours before 4 of us wandered to the lakes afterwards for some beers on a rooftop terrace in the beautiful warm sunshine and blue skies, the weather really has been perfect the last week.

Back home to chill & watch a bit of TV before it was Monday morning again. We don’t mind them really, even with the big boss back in town for 2 weeks! The weeks go so so quickly that before you know it, it’s Friday afternoon already. 2 weeks to go then we have the October holidays, where we get a week off – so we’re planning on catching up on some more sightseeing, can’t wait.

Monday evening = chill, so bye for now!

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Sal on

Wow what an ultra busy week you guys both have! But I must say, you really seem to have taken the changes in your lifestyles/culture. So pleased that you are enjoying in, for the most part any way. Loved your account of the school Trace, children are great at breaking down barriers and agree with you that maybe volunteering to help with the orphanage could be a bit emotional, for you not them! As I'm certain, that the children would love being the centre of attention, especially from a gorgeous, bubbly red head!! Looking very promising with all yours and Andy's clients, keeping fingers crossed. Amazed that presented with a microphone Trace you were, momentarily, lost for words!! Karaoke!!?? ;-) Take care xxx

Sal on

* Excuse the few mistakes...I'm blaming the lack of sustenance and liquids today during my busy working day!!!! x ;-)

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