A black sedan stuffed with government officials races along a rutted road in remote central China. Farmers hefting loads of cabbages step to the side. The sedan pursues a boxy bus and red car. The people in the bus—mainly U.S. nurses and doctors—peer out.
The chase stops at Qi Gang Village Primary School in Henan province. Bus occupants gingerly step out and begin doling out backpacks, school supplies and stuffed animals to hundreds of eager children. The officials get out, too, keeping their distance, smoking cigarettes.
The nurses and doctors are from China Service Ventures, an ecumenical organization that relates to the ELCA. They’re here to do health screenings for children who are missing out on China’s new prosperity. Classrooms become clinics as wide-eyed kids line up so the team can measure their height, weight, eyesight and hearing.
A man from the red delivery car muscles out a heavy crate. The watchers surround him as he sets it on the school’s front steps. It contains milk—just milk. No less interested, the watchers mill around as the team gives milk packets to the children. A tiny girl wants to save hers to take home to her sick father. The watchers don’t interfere.
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© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers