2020 Home Visits Personal impressions of our volunteers
Shanghai Sunrise enables local students from low-income families to continue their high school education. In order to find those most in need of financial assistance, every year we work closely with the Shanghai Charity Foundation and social workers to identify and assess scholarship candidates. As part of this process, Shanghai Sunrise volunteers conduct a home visit with every family who applied for our scholarship program to verify their personal situation.
The schedule for this year’s home visits was particularly intense: due to the Covid-19 restrictions, our volunteers had to accomplish what we usually do between April and September within a single month. In just nine days of traveling from early morning until late in the evening, teams of 2-4 people visited up to 15 families per day. In total, we visited 133 families in seven Shanghai districts. This was only possible thanks to the impressive energy and dedication of our volunteers.
Here are some impressions of the volunteers who joined the home visits for the first time in 2020:
Yulia, Executive Director
It was my first home visit experience. I've gained something money can’t buy: I met the families that applied for our help, heard their stories, and saw the happy faces when we told them they were qualified to enter our scholarship program.
It is unbelievable how different Shanghai can be: only a 1-1.5 hour drive to Pudong district brings you to an entirely different world. Some of the families can’t afford gas to cook on the fire stoves. Some families have members with serious illnesses. I was so impressed that these family members don't give up and, despite their illness or need to take care of someone in the family, still, try to perform a part-time job to set a good example for their children. We also found out that some families don't have laptops. So, when all students had to study online during the covid-19 quarantine period, they had to use their mobile phones. In light of our applicants' difficult living conditions, I was amazed to see the passion and talent in one of the applicant’s drawings. Furthermore, I believe it is the first time in the history of Shanghai Sunrise that we will support triplets.
These home visits are a sensitive undertaking as, on the one hand, we invade the families' privacy. On the other hand, this is an excellent opportunity to connect with the families and to understand their situations and needs better. This knowledge can help Shanghai Sunrise develop additional activities that will support our students even more in the future.
Shirley, core team volunteer
We visited seven families in different villages on Hengsha Island, which is part of the Chongming District. Their living conditions are very simple and modes and these students really need help to continue their education. After these home visits, I strongly feel that what Shanghai Sunrise, and we as volunteers are doing, is a meaningful and worthy cause that makes a genuine difference for these students.
I remember one student in particular: her father has a serious mental illness and her living conditions are very challenging. Despite all of this, she is still optimistic and kept smiling throughout our conversation. She is a very good student, but to save family expenses she gave up the opportunity to go to a better high school and is choosing the one nearby instead.
Benson, Board Member
The students my team visited all live in the city (in Minghang) so their living conditions aren’t so bad. However, the challenges these students face arise from significant personal hardships. Here are some concrete examples I encountered that day:
divorced parents and the mother doesn’t have a good job;
one of the parents is handicapped and can’t work;
one father had passed away and the mother became seriously depressed as a result;
another student has leukaemia.
Life is definitely not easy in a modern, big city like Shanghai. There are still quite a few young students who struggle and need the support of many kinds. Despite such difficult family situations, they all study very hard and want to continue going to school.