June 15, 2005
By Linda Bloom*
YORK (UMNS) — In the 20 years since its founding, the Christian-related
Amity Foundation has expanded its social outreach programs in China to
include education for migrant children, assistance for the disabled and
support for people with HIV/AIDS.
many church members in the United States know the organization because
of the Amity Teachers Program, which remains an important part of its
work, according to Zhang Liwei, the executive in charge of international
fact, he is issuing a challenge to U.S. churches to increase their
participation in the teachers program, which has dwindled from a high of
49 teachers from the United States in 1987 to 16 U.S. teachers this
"We still have a huge need for both long-term and short-term teachers," Liwei said.
and five other Amity staff executives met June 13 with staff of the
United Methodist Board of Global Ministries in New York during the
first-ever visit of an official Amity delegation to North America. Qiu
Zhonghui, Amity’s chief executive, led the delegation.
in 1985, Amity emphasizes "people-to-people contact" and Christian
involvement in meeting the needs of Chinese society. Whenever possible,
the organization encourages local Christians and congregations to reach
out directly to those in need in their communities.
During 2004, most of
Amity’s church-related project work involved HIV/AIDS prevention and
awareness education in the Yunnan and Henan provinces. But there also
are church-run clinics and hospitals, homes for the elderly, child
welfare projects and community development projects.
|Web-only image courtesy of Amity Foundation
An Amity foundation teacher helps train Chinese young adults as educators for disadvantaged areas.
programs include Amity teachers and the short-term summer English
program, assistance to primary school dropouts and migrant children,
domestic faculty development and legal aid.
the HIV/AIDS prevention and medical support, other medical programs
include training for doctors, gynecological disease prevention and
treatment, a mobile medical team and support for orphans.
prevention and special education is a major emphasis, according to She
Hongyu, who directs that division. She thanked the Global Ministries
staff for the board’s support, which helped the organization provide 400
cataract operations last year and implement a new project for young,
visually-impaired children this year. Services for the disabled remain a
huge need in China, she added.
Other programs focus on disaster relief and rehabilitation work, rural development and social welfare.
the projects are locally based, 98 percent of the funding for Amity’s
work comes from overseas, according to Liwei. North American funding
accounts for 18 percent of the total, while European sources contribute
55 percent. International partners monitor and evaluate projects and
sometimes conduct workshops for Amity.
project funders are the local partners, which includes local
governments, and the recipients themselves. "In most cases, they
(recipients) will make contributions by labor force and materials," he
length of projects, Zhonghui noted, can range from three to six months
for an immediate need, such as installing a water pump, to an integrated
development plan that might last 10 years and unfold over several
to the future, Amity will continue to directly serve the poor but also
will focus on social reform as China itself continues to make reforms,
Zhonghui said. To expand outreach, Amity hopes to train staff from other
nongovernmental organizations to serve in other parts of the country.
example of focusing on social reform is assistance to schools for
children of migrant workers, which the Board of Global Ministries has
Nanjing, where Amity is based, an estimated one million migrant workers
have moved in from rural areas, bringing thousands of school-age
children. Although these children are now permitted to attend urban
public schools, the fee is usually too high, Liwei explained.
the migrant children are educated under makeshift conditions. "Many of
these schools are in such horrible condition they can’t be called
schools at all," he said.
has concentrated on improving the learning environment for these
children by making repairs; providing books, sports equipment and
musical instruments; offering training for teachers; improving
leadership skills for school principals and supplying additional
teachers in the form of Chinese and international volunteers.
More information is available online at www.amityfoundation.org, the organization’s Web site.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.