“Speaking out” for the First Time

Twelve-year-old Xiaoli is in sixth grade. She is a shy girl who rarely shares what she is thinking. She lives with her parents and grandparents in a small village in Fuchuan County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Their family makes a living by growing oranges on a small piece of land that is surrounded by vast mountains.

Xiaoli studies in the only primary school in her village. The school conducts classes such as Chinese language and mathematics. Apart from that, there are no other classes or extracurricular activities because the school has limited access to educational resources. As a result of this, students miss out on opportunities to fully develop their communication and life skills.

Xiaoli was in her school.

Xiaoli loves taking part in activities World Vision carries out in her community because they add fun into her after-school life and allows her to learn more. World Vision held an activity to raise awareness about drowning and how to prevent it in Xiaoli’s village. Xiaoli and ten other children were invited to speak about their concerns on safety in the village. Project staff hope that this activity could help children learn how to protect themselves and also give them an opportunity express, grow and to participate.

Xiaoli and her friends were very excited during the activity. They participated in discussions, shared freely about their thoughts and presented their requests. After that, everyone came together and put down on a large piece of white paper three areas in the village which they felt was most unsafe, and suggestions on how to make these area safer. At the end, Xiaoli and her friends summarized the discussion and hope that village leaders and parents would listen and value their sharing. The adults were very supportive of the activity and they were also very keen to hear what children in their community had to say.

Xiaoli (left) discussed with other children on the safety concerns of the village.

Xiaoli (middle) actively participated into the discussion.

When the children voted for Xiaoli to represent them to summarize the discussion, she was very nervous. But staff from World Vision and her friends kept encouraging her. This motivated Xiaoli to take on the challenge and to speak on behalf of all the children in her community. She used the white paper earlier and led everyone through the three unsafe areas identified, together with suggestions on how to solve these concerns. Lastly, she urged leaders and parents to prioritize this matter.

The adults were very impressed by the discussion and the ideas shared by the children. The Village Committee Chairperson said: “I didn’t realize our children have such insightful views. Their suggestions are really useful. We appreciate the safety concerns raised, the village committee and parents will work together to solve this problem.”

Xiaoli (second right) on behalf of the children to share their safety concerns with the village leaders and adults.

Xiaoli is thrilled by her first attempt to “speak-out” in public. “I’m so glad I participated in this activity. I didn’t think we would get so much affirmation for our opinions. I want to thank the big brothers and sisters from World Vision for organizing this, I will join them again in the future.” said Xiaoli through her now confident smile. (Written by Wu Dan from World Vision China Fuchuan Area Programme)