Story and Photos by Hope Loudon | Read to Feed Program Assistant Coordinator | Heifer China
On April 12, 2013, Eton House International School in Chengdu, China, celebrated the successful completion of Heifer's Read to Feed program. Eton House students, teachers and parents attended the closing ceremony.
During the ceremony, Heifer China recognized students and classes for their efforts to make the program successful. Students from each class were presented certificates for reading the most books and raising the most funds, and classes that read the most books or raised the most funds received Heifer’s Busy Bee Award and Benevolence Award, respectively.
Principal Carol Hutchinson accepted Heifer's plaque of appreciation and, in turn, presented Heifer with a student-decorated poster illustrating the 3,520 Chinese yuan renminbi, or about $569, that Eton House raised for Heifer China.
Read to Feed is Heifer's largest school fundraising program, and Heifer China is pleased to increase its presence in Chengdu. During the four-week program, the students at Eton House read as many books as they could and worked hard to find sponsors to donate money for each book they read. Not all of the students were old enough to read, but that didn’t stop them. Many still eagerly participated with the help of their parents, who read to them.
Students learned to value reading and practiced to improve their reading, while simultaneously helping Heifer China raise money for its projects. They learned that helping others is important and realized that not everyone is as fortunate as they are. Many students were surprised to learn that some children their age don't have shelter or enough food and cannot go to school because they must work long hours to help support their families. When the Eton House students learned about such poverty, they became interested in helping.
Heifer China staff visited classrooms at Eton House to teach them about Heifer's work in China. As Read to Feed Assistant Coordinator, I read to students from Heifer's special children's books and reminded them to participate in the program. They listened attentively, reacted empathetically to the sad parts of the stories, and marveled at the illustrations. It was adorable when they insisted on counting the animals in the books, but the cutest part was when I read the names of the first three cows that Heifer International shipped to poor families in 1944 in Faith the Cow. Knowing that my name is Hope, the children could not contain themselves when I revealed that the first three cows were named Faith, Hope and Charity. Suddenly, a student stood up and exclaimed, “Oh my, you’re the cow!” I laughed and insisted that I was not the cow, but I'm not sure if the younger students really believed me.
The students did believe me when I told them that they had the power to make a difference if they really tried. We at Heifer China hope they will remember this lesson throughout their lives and always do their best to change the world for the better. We are confident that if more children learn this lesson at an early age the future will be very bright indeed. Heifer China applauds Eton House for welcoming Read to Feed and we look forward to the program's successful implementation elsewhere in Chengdu.