Monday, 19 October 2009

Journal for W/E 17 October - an inspiring week!

Saturday morning saw Shirley and I off to the Hong Li Primary School in the far north of Beijing to begin filming our feature on CAI/The Promise Foundation. CAI (or 才 in Chinese) means ‘talent’.

CAI’s mission statement is, “to target the underserved communities of migrant labourers in China. We work through arts and sports programs and character development activities.”

By an amazing stroke of good fortune the cold, overcast and windy weather of Friday had cleared and we were blessed with warm sunshine throughout the day. In contrast, Sunday has been absolutely freezing with a full gale blowing all day!

At their Hong Li project, CAI have partnered with young students from the Dulwich College International School in Beijing who have generously given up part of their weekend to work with young children. About a dozen Dulwich volunteers were on hand to give English, drama and music lessons, and lead the kids in outdoor activities – including basic basketball techniques.

We had the pleasure to conduct a brief interview with Dulwich student, Jorge Zarate, the team leader who recruited and organized the volunteers from the college.

He told us he was delighted with the way the program was going, “And I can’t wait for the weeks to come,” he said, “It will be fantastic!”

After witnessing the enthusiasm of the Dulwich volunteers and the warm reception they received from the children, we have no doubt it will be “fantastic.”

Over the coming three weeks Shirley and I will be filming and taking photographs at another two schools for the children of migrant workers on the outskirts of the capital.

Earlier in the week I had the opportunity to meet with some other quite unique and inspiring people during a panel discussion to mark ‘Vision 2020 – World Sight Day’.

In the Today on Beyond Beijing studio we welcomed – among others - a staff member and volunteer from The Beijing One Plus One Cultural Exchange Center.
We talked about the challenges facing the visually impaired here in China – and their remarkable achievements.

If you have some time to spare, you really should take a listen to the MP3 version on this link -

Visit the group at

Another highlight of the week was dinner with Cyrille Jegu and He Si-tang from The Natural Step – an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to education, advisory work and research in sustainable development.
It was impossible not to be energized by their dedication and enthusiasm for creating a better, sustainable environment.

For information on their program and what you can do to contribute to the quality of life for future generations, visit their website at -

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