Sunday, 25 December 2011

Irene: Now found at a good University!

Some of you may remember a girl we called "Irene" who was thrown out by her parents because she was unable to speak due to the fact that she was hearing impaired. When I recently asked the headmaster of the ChangSha Deaf Centre, Mrs Wang, about "Irene" her face lit up with a warm smile. Irene has just been accepted at one of Chinas top 10 Universities. Quite the Christmas present! This in itself is amazing for a girl from the countryside in this vast country. When you remember that she is hearing impaired, this is even more incredible. Looking back, it now seems almost unreal for her incredibly proud parents to imagine that they only 12 years ago gave her to the headmaster of the deaf school and had no intention of seeing her again.
Without the Deaf Centre in Changasha, it is questionable if Irene would be alive, be able to speak or have any formal education. Irenes story is one of many life stories that shows how life can turn out when Gods love is poured on people and igniting hope really can change more than one can imagine!
If you would like to read the rest of her story, you can read about it in English or Norwegain depending on your preference. It is really a pleasure to see the joy in this deaf centre!

Monday, 19 December 2011

The International Biogas Project: China & Madagascar

In June 2011, 13 project leaders from Madagascar visited China to study NMS Biogas projects and meet the leaders in Amity Foundation. On this trip, Amity discussed closely with Malagasy friends and partners in Hunan Province about future management of the project as well as the technical details of biogas construction.
Because of the very different contexts of the two countries (China &Madagascar) Amity staff learnt a great deal from the interactive workshops and discussions during the visit of the Malagasi visitors. Amity`s local partners also learnt a great deal from the perspectives of the Chinese visitors, and despite obvious language challenges, friendships were made. After the Leader trip in June, but before the July assessment trip to Madagascar, Amity consultant Chris GongSheng went to Yongshun County and Baojing County (the two areas the leaders visited) and held meetings with the Overseas Friendship Association of both counties to evaluate the June trip and share experiences.

From July the 20th to August the 16th, Amity consultant Chris GongSheng and Mr. Chen JiaHai, Director of Biogas Association of YongShun County (In HuNan Province) travelled to Madagascar. Their purposes of going there was as follows:

I.                   To make a biogas survey:

Chris GongSheng and Mr. Chen JiaHai did field visit to many household that already did have biogas systems and tried to come out better solution to make improvements. They also did several family interviews and attended meetings with local government officials to get an understanding of local attitudes to biogas. They found that biogas is perceived to be urgently needed in Madagascar because the environment is deteriorating and people cannot access alternative clean renewable energy. They are forced to cut trees to improve family incomes.

II.                To help local technicians build a steel mould and a wooden mould;

Amity worked closely with the Tombotsoa School, an agricultural school in Madagascar to build respectively a steel mould and a wooden mould. A total of 32 people from different programs of FLM were involved in the construction process. It finally took five days to finish the steel mould and four days to make the wooden one.
Proud makers of the steel moul- Yes! Together we can do it!
III.             To provide technical training for local technicians about mould training;

The steel mould made in Madagascar this year.
Under the support of FLM, Chris GongSheng and Mr. Chen Jiahai did a series of training programs for 32 local technicians that will be further trained next year. Mr. Chen JiaHai spread the knowledge of mould construction by drawing design and giving good examples. He was very impressed by the keen interest and understanding of the Malagasi participants. The evaluation showed that most participants understood the training contents very well. If you would like to read about this project in Norwegian, take a look here or here.

Merry Christmas, all readers!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Annual report from the ChangSha Deaf Centre

One of my favourite jobs is coordinating support to the Changsha Deaf centre. This has been an exciting year for the centre.
16 teachers have taken the Hunan Province teacher certificate and passed. They have also attended other training courses throughout the year. Most of the teachers are very young and work very long hours, for very little pay because the centre just does not have the money to increase their wages. As a result, teachers do become burnt out and there is a high turn over rate in the staff. Having said that, the teachers are very dedicated, it is obvious that they love the children and due to their amazing dedication the centre has gone from strength to strength.
The centre continues to hold parent training courses, which have proven popular and an effective way of helping the parents help their children.
The centre serves many families who cannot afford the school fees. For this reason, though the cost of living has increased in China, the school and boarding fees haven’t. Of course, this means that the school struggles. Teacher’s wages are low, the school itself is very basic and is in need of some desperate repairs. In fact, the centre could really do with new premises.
The school has a floor in a residential block of flats and many of the neighbours are very unhappy that the school shares their building. The school has a small outdoor area that other flats can see into. Before the children used to play there, but because neighbours used to throw things at them, they have had to stop that. Now the children do not go outside unless they are taken for a special trip to the park.

During the summer we took our three children, Natasha, Kari Sophia and Jakob to visit the Deaf centre, so that they could see what kind of work NMS does. Whilst we were there, our kids got to play with the children in the centre and both sets of children entertained each other with little shows. Our children liked meeting the kids and spending time with them. They were touched by how basic the centre was: the number of children sleeping in each room, the smell of the toilets, the food, the mouldy ceilings and the heat in the centre because they can’t afford to use aircon. We later found out that it hadn’t just been our children who had enjoyed the visit. Apparently, the children at the centre loved meeting and playing with the “foreign “ kids, talked about it for days and even told their parents how exciting it was!!
Changsha Deaf Centre has greatly benefited from your support. It literally would not be able to operate in the way it does today if it wasn’t for you who support this project. Thank you for your support! From Marieke

Monday, 28 November 2011

Annual apdate on the YongShun Environmental project

Underneath follows a brief description of the activities of the YongShun project this year:
This years project activities started with our local partner learning the local needs and working out a draft plan at the end of June. Then, Amity Foundation discussed and revised the plan together with the local partner in YongShun. In the year of 2011, we planned to help 100 rural households to build biogas systems as well as renovation of their toilet and animal pens.

The staff of Amity local project office and professionals from Energy
Bureau made field visits to local townships and villages, learning the
suggestions and needs of local farmers, checking the name list of biogas
construction candidate one by one, giving guidance to preparation work for
biogas system construction.
The construction of 100 biogas system started in
August. During the construction of the biogas systems, the local project office
paid continuous follow up visits to different villages, talking with beneficiaries
and solving difficulties they encountered. The 100 biogas systems will be
completed at the beginning of December.

For the exciting evaluation of this project next week, we have invited qualified experts from Changsha Environmental Protection College
to do the evaluation work with us as well as an external evaluator from Laos.

In other words, the project in Yongshun has progressed smoothly according to our plan. We look
forward to the coming evaluation which will help us to summarize what we have
achieved and what we need to improve in the future. Thank you for supporting
this project!

Monday, 14 November 2011

A new training course on Diaconia- Social work of the Church

This exciting new pioneering project aims
to teach the Chinese church more about the meaning of diakonia (the social work of the Church) and how to put it into practice. As in many countries,
there is a limited understanding in China of the concept and importance
of diakonia as a part of the church’s identity and life.

Church leaders were invited to join the
first part of lectures that took part in June.
Around 40 church leaders from around the province attended. In addition
many students from Hunan Bible Institute also attended. We heard from many of those who attended the
lectures that they were inspired to put what they had learnt into action in
their churches. Ultimately, this project will help them do this. During the last year of the project, some of
the attending churches will be given small grants to use for diaconal

Our partner in China, Amity, has explained how
this kind of a course is the first of its kind and very significant. The church in China is growing quickly and more
and more Chinese Christians would like to help serve in their church and the
community around them. The government is
also encouraging the church to do this.
However, there is a lack of awareness of how to do this and what it means. There has been some confusion about how the
church should run places like a home for the elderly. In some places, the
church has understood that non-profit equals making no money. So, what happens, is that the places go
bankcrupt as they have no extra money to fix the building, pay for furniture,
Those who attended lectures this year heard
about what diaconia is, it’s Biblical basis, proposal writing, running
projects, accounting and many other practical skills. When the lectures were
finished there was a lot of enthusiasm from those participating, as they wanted
to know more about how to do diaconal work and were asking for more

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Ji Lanqing - not really a difficult boy.

One of the most inspiring things I get to do is to coordinate our cooperation with the rehabilitation centre for hearing impaired Children in ChangSha City in Hunan Province, China. It is very exciting to get to see how the school is making a big difference to these children and it is very admirable to see how keen the headmistress and teachers are on doing a good job to give these children a better future.

Over 100 hearing impaired children attend the Deaf Centre in ChangSha, central China. The school accepts children that many other schools refuse to give access. This is sometimes because they don’t have the money to pay the fees, sometimes because the child has multiple disabilities, sometimes because the child is perceived to be difficult.

Ji Lanqing is one of these children. Ji Lanqing is six years old, he is deaf and he has attention deficiency hyperactive disorder. When he first arrived at the school he couldn’t say a word. He screamed, was very angry and was difficult to control. Because of this, other rehabilitation schools had refused to accept him. Understandably, his mother was upset and desperately wanted to help her child. So soon after Ji Lanqing started to attend Qi Yin School she attended one of the parent training sessions. After that there was no turning back. She regularly attended training sessions, participating eagerly and, finally, started to assist at the school itself in an effort to help her child. Quickly, she mastered the basics of rehabilitation training and started to daily help her child in a one to one setting both at school and at home.

After only a few months Ji Lanqing has improved greatly. He can now speak sentences of 4 to 5 words in a go, he can communicate with those around him and he is no longer so frustrated. Ji Lanqing’s mother is very happy. She says that the school has given her and her son hope.

Unfortunately, the rehabilitation centre could not survive and help this many children without the support of NMS. If you are one of the people supporting this project, thank you! Perhaps you’d be interested in supporting this project? If so, click here.

This article is written by Marieke Rode-Christoffersen

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Annual Report for the Yongshun Environmental Project 2010

We are very excited about the 110 biogas workers that have been trained in biogas utilization and maintenance in YongShun through this project! A total of 3,000 biogas users got on-site training and received brochures.

The onsite training for biogas users were combined with the construction of 680 new biogas systems. For literate farmers, the brochures are given to them so that they can learn how to best manage and follow up their biogas system. The families who are not able to come to the training site are visited in their homes by the biogas technicians who teach them biogas digester maintenance by showing them how to do it practically.

“Neighbor training”

Peers training” or “neighbor training” has been very successful in this project. The project management invited local farmers who have used biogas digesters for several years to share their experiences with new users. The new biogas users found the information shared very practical and interesting. At the same time, training on health and hygiene were held for 3,050 farmers.

110 trained biogas technicians!

Through the training received, 110 biogas workers are now able to help with problem solving for the many new biogas users as well as those who previously had purchased biogas digesters. The training of biogas users greatly contribute to safe and continuous use of these biogas systems. This is critical to ensure that these digesters help these farmers and protect the environment.

Health & Sanitation Training

The training on health and hygiene helped the local farmers to understand the importance of hygiene and environmental protection. Adapting the toilet and pigsty is also an important part of this project which not only makes sure that the digester get all of the waste, but also makes the kitchen and pigsty much cleaner and more hygenic. The disease prevention and health care knowledge was also shared with local farmers during the health and hygiene training.

680 households got biogas digesters!

In 2010 total of 680 new biogas systems were built for 680 households in YongShun. At least 2,720 people benefited directly from these aside from the local natural environment etc. Every year, for each household, 3500 kg of wood will be saved and CNY 200 of chemical fertilizer will be saved in agriculture production per household. This amounts to roughly 4,800 CNY/RMB for per household.

A better life for the left behind

As the majority of young men in these communities leave home to seek employment in big cities during most of the year, the left behind population such as old people and women are left with the burden of getting firewood etc. Getting biogas digesters make a big difference to the women and elderly who are left in the countryside. The time saved as a result of getting biogas digesters are used on taking care of children, domestic animals, learn new skills and make handcrafts so as to generate more income for the family.