I’ve been in China for almost eight months now, and I have never once seen a young, able-bodied person ask for charity. The beggars I see on the street often prostrate themselves on the street and grovel, waving their disability for everyone to see. (For more on the stigmatization and abuse of disabled people in China, read more here: http://aeon.co/magazine/society/whats-it-like-to-be-disabled-in-china/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disability_in_China)
Even a few years ago, accepting charity in China was a profoundly shameful act. That shame still lingers, and asking for help is something usually reserved for life-and-death emergencies.
That’s I was surprised to hear from my student about a local organization that collected winter clothes and scholarship funds to distribute in poorer areas of the countryside. My Chinese skills don’t allow me to help with collection and organization efforts, but I have been to the countryside with them twice. Honestly, I’ve been pretty useless, but I carry heavy things when I’m allowed to, teach the kids English, watch, and listen.
My Chinese wasn’t good enough to understand most things first-hand, so the experience was mostly visual. Mirroring that, I’m going to communicate the experience through photos.
More photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/126409949@N05/sets/72157649465193480/