Alive and well in China
A woman outside her home watches as her animal pen is inspected.
(Note: Majors Barry and Arlene Dooley are Western officers who are serving at the Hong Kong Command; Major Barry is general secretary and Major Arlene is command secretary for women’s organizations.
They report below on a recent trip that took them across China to view Salvation Army programs.)
We spent 10 days in Mainland China visiting some of The Salvation Army’s projects, starting in Inner Mongolia in a town called Xinghe (Shinghe). We first flew to Beijing and drove over the mountains to Inner Mongolia. As we came out of the mountains we drove into a very harsh, desolate land; there is no other way to describe it. The officials there kept telling us that it was different in the summer–that everything was green then instead of brown.
Varied Army projects
Salvation Army projects there include rebuilding schools, putting in wells for a pure water supply, micro loan projects for animal husbandry, and raising sheep, goats and pigs.
Another project is a tree farm, as they are trying to get forests growing again. The villagers are very poor–most of the homes had electricity, but no running water. Water must be carried from a well or a stream.
Major Arlene Dooley talks to a village woman on the path from the fields to the village.
They are working on the water projects and are trying to get water to each household. The villagers are very happy with the projects, as they are improving their life style; the children appear happy and study hard.
The weather was very cold with winds and sand blowing. If you heard about the sand storms in China, we were in the middle of them. Our hotel had no hot water and the cold was very cold, so we took sponge baths for three days while we visited the villages. Toilets in the villages were nonexistent, although when the Army built the schools, they put in toilets.
Driving from one village to another was interesting in that there were no actual roads, just trails across the landscape and through the river beds. We just prayed it wouldn’t rain. My first thought when coming into Inner Mongolia was that this is what the early American pioneers must have seen when they came into the plains, just open barren land.
On to Beijing and Guanghou
From there we went back to Beijing and had the privilege of attending church with about 2,000 other Christians, visiting with children of former officers as well as visiting four of the former officers. What a blessing to hear them talk about the Army and what officership meant to them and still does.
We then went to Guanghou for the opening dedication of a theology seminary which the Army helped sponsor. From there we went to Kunming in Yunnan, Southern China and visited the Fang Ma Pa Villages, where we have on-going projects of animal husbandry, building animal pins, planting vegetables and potatos, as well as building schools and toilets.
These villages are located in the middle of a mountain range, and are very poor and remote. The homes are mostly mud huts with grass roofs–no running water and very little water from streams.
A village meeting is held to discuss the improvements the projects have made.
They have electricity, but nothing else; they were very thankful to the Army for helping them have enough food to eat. We had an opportunity to talk to the villagers and we were surprised at how many were not planning for the future. They just live from day to day and they don’t see the need for education or improvement. The local government is working hard to try to educate the parents as well as the children on the need to improve their standard of living.
The Army has funded two medical clinics, one for animals and one for people; this has improved the condition of the livestock and the health of the people.
They are trying to encourage the women to get prenatal care for pregnancies and have their babies in the hospital, but since it costs them about 70 RMB, roughly US $10.00 they don’t go to the hospital because they don’t have the money.
AIDS/HIV projects and more
Back in Kunming, we were part of the opening and dedication of an HIV/AIDS counseling center, the first of its kind in China. It is a joint project with the Army and the Australia Red Cross. Yunnan Province, because of its southern location has a very high rate of HIV/AIDS patients.
All of the projects done in China are joint efforts between the Army, the Central government and the local government. We would ask that you pray for China, for the work of the Army and for the Christian churches which are officially operating there.