How much has changed in Shimenkan since Pollard’s arrival?
How much has changed in Shimenkan since the Chinese government started their reconstruction work?
The answer to the first question is A LOT, but the answer to the second question can be both a lot and very little.
When Pollard first arrived at Shimenkan, he had no money. As a religious missionary, he had hope and a plan to do his work in the village. Without money, he couldn’t buy land from the villagers or the local government. However, he made a deal with the landlord. He asked for “some land that is only worth one whole piece of calfskin”. The landlord was confused, but he thought a full piece of calfskin is barely anything, so he said yes to Pollard’s request. That night, he cut up a whole piece of calfskin into thin strips and sewed them together into a long line. The next day, when he met with the landlord to take the land, he rounded up enough land to build a church with the strip of calfskin. With some villagers’ help, a church was built. In the beginning, the church served both as a school and a church. As time went, the first school and the first hospital was built at Shimenkan.
Three years ago, the Chinese government started to reform areas that are in poverty. Shimenkan was listed under one of the targeted rural villages in the “help the poor” project in China. In the whole process, the government invested over 10 BILLION Yuan on this small village. New apartment-style houses were built, and the village is physically connected with roads. However, even with the new houses and the roads, villagers here are still trapped in poverty. The government doesn’t seem to understand that the real way to improve these people’s lives is to teach them how to fish, not just give them the fish. From the physical appearance, Shimenkan has changed much more than what Pollard had done. However, what the village really needs is education that will provide them a chance and the ability to connect with the outside world.
With little money and resource, Pollard built a church, a school and a hospital that really improved people’s quality of life. With more than enough money, the government only helped the village on the most basic level. I hope that the government can see that it is the education system that needs to be improved so the villages can build more wealth on their own.
This picture was taken in the early days of Pollard’s arrival. I found this picture in the Shimenkan gallery.