Thursday, January 17, 2008

Clothing Distribution with Jubilee

On Saturday, we went out with Jubilee staff to distribute some winter clothing to the children sponsored by Jubilee Care. It started to snow the day before. So some of the more dangerous locations had to be cancelled. We ended up driving in the snow to a small town one and a half hours away. By Canadian standards, the snow fall was relatively light. But by local standards, it was a rare heavy snow. Because the air is so dry that snow does not usually fall even though the temperature is sub-zero.

We passed by abrupt mountains, potato fields, sheep, villages, people on bicycles, and even children in brightly-colored clothes.

The majority of the population was Han. But there was also a large population of Hui’s and a smaller one of Tung Heung’s. Both of whom were Muslims, with many wearing those white skull-caps. Many of the children had to walk an hour in the snow to come to the government office to pick up their winter clothing. Some were accompanied by their guardians such as grandparents.

Jubilee sponsors their school fees. So the children have to send in their school report cards to confirm that they are staying in school. Some of them failed to send in their report cards, perhaps because the results were not so good. So we had to try to convince them that we were not concerned about the results, but simply that they stay in school.

Many of them spoke Putonghua with very heavy accents. Comparatively, our Cantonese accents seemed mild. Perhaps they were not even speaking Putonghua at all but their local dialects. I could not be sure.


Liu Yunxia said...

The dialect in Gansu is pretty close to standard Mandarin.

StephenC said...

Er... It probably depends on location. We were in DingXi 定西。 On Sunday we went to church, and I caught no more than 10 percent of what was said :(

Apparently the preacher was speaking in the DingXi dialect. When a staff member from Wuhan told me later she couldn't understand it either, I felt a bit better.

I have to admit my Putonghua is not standard to start with. :)