Recipient of the Sophie Prize and Clinton Global Citizen award and founder of Global Village of Beijing, one of China’s most influential environmental NGOs, Liao Xiaoyi has been focusing on left-behind children since 2011. She granted an exclusive interview to China Pictorial.
China Pictorial : Global Village of Beijing has been acclaimed for its achievements in environmental protection. Why did you begin to focus on problems related to left-behind children?
Liao Xiaoyi: In recent years, we shifted our attention to ecological improvement of China’s rural areas, especially after the Wenchuan earthquake of 2008. After so many years’ practice, we know that in order to better protect the environment, we must construct a healthy community and take good care of the residents in it. It is just like Chinese medical science, which endeavors to cure diseases systematically. Left-behind children naturally drew our attention.
CP: What’s the operation mode of Loho Home project?
Liao: At the top level, local governments, Beijing Guangcai Charity Foundation and we at Global Village of Beijing work together. At the basic level, we have social workers, teachers and villagers. The local government plays a comprehensive coordination role. Beijing Guangcai Charity Foundation provides and manages the money and Global Village of Beijing trains social workers and enacts programs to help the children and villagers.
We try to inject an idea into villagers’ minds: The village is an interdependent community. They all have a stake in each other’s success or failure. And our efforts aim to help them help themselves. We formed a Loving Moms group. A child can have a neighboring woman serve as his or her ‘loving mom,’ who can care for kids in the absence of their biological mothers. And we also help the villagers develop industries such as suburban tourism, organic food trade, poultry breeding and handicraft production so that many - or at least the mothers - can earn enough money in the village rather than leaving to work in cities.