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A little known fact of life in China came to light when the diary of a 14-year-old peasant girl made it from a remote town in rural China made it to the bestseller lists in France. The book, which has now been published in 16 countries around the world, tells the story of a young girl who is desperate to stay in school, despite the problem of sky-high school fees, which her parents can not afford.

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7 janvier 2002 1 07 /01 /janvier /2002 00:00
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THE LETTER FROM THE NINGXIA/
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Letter 2 - 21 January 2002


Dear All
I have received largely favourable responses to my proposal about helping Ma Yan ; only one response expressed some reservations. My assistant has already written to Ma Yan this week, to tell her that the article about her came out, that it drew a very nice reaction from the readership, and that it is important that she keep on doing well at school, now that one is prepared to help her. So perhaps we should get going now without waiting any further, and start by helping Ma Yan first, as planned. This part of the project is not too difficult to realise.
I am trying to open a bank account in Paris, the details of which I shall pass on to you as soon as I have them. Can you please let me know what sum of money you would like to put your names down for, and whether you intend to make a regular or a one-off contribution, and in the former case, for how long you think you can commit yourselves. This is not about creating any legal obligation but simply so that we have a rough idea of the size of the contributions and the scale on which we can plan.
Before the end of January we should be able to send Ma Yan a first payment through Wang Zheng, the photographer living in Ningxia, as our middleman. We should also be able to continue sending her money - a sum yet to be determined - at regular intervals, so that she can not only pay her school fees but also have enough for food and clothes ; in short, enough to ensure conditions in which she can study better, and which will one day allow her to escape her present condition. We will ask Ma Yan to let us know by return of post that she has received the money, and to tell us a little about her life as it is now.
This letter as well as any that follow will be passed on to you in translation, with each transfer. This will be a first way of ascertaining that the money has arrived safely and is in her hands. I expect to be able to go to Ma Yan’s village as soon as possible, accompanied by my assistant (and at my own expense : the money donated will exclusively serve to help the children) in order to see if it is possible to put some kind of mechanism in place whereby bursaries, corresponding to the sums we have collected, can be granted to other children, a plan you appear to have accepted, with only a few reservations. I will keep you informed about each further step taken, hoping that the entire project will remain simple and direct, and that it will have a positive impact on the life of Ma Yan and her village in Ningxia.
As the person who started all that is happening now, by publishing my report in Libération, and as I am also based in China at the moment, I find myself organising a charity action, doing something that is neither my proper job, nor even something I’d ever thought of doing until as shortly as a week ago ! It goes without saying that if any other format can be found for this project, especially if it is possible to entrust a creditable existing organisation with the running of this initiative, I’ll gladly hand over.
But while we try to find such an organisation - and this may take some time - it seems preferable to me that we get something started on the basis of what has united us for these past days. All this rests on the trust you can put in me without knowing me, and I hope to show myself worthy of this trust, while of course also giving you as much security and transparency as possible. This includes my assistant He Yanping who is as much involved in this matter as I am. I sincerely hope that we can make part of this journey together, in the interest of Ma Yan.
Cordially
Pierre Haski


 

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