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03:30 Sep 30 2011

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A road less traveled
09:40, August 05, 2010  

Hong Bo, founder of, with children in Nanqian County, Yushu, Qinghai Province in 2009. Photos provided to China Daily

Long before the earthquake, a group of people were braving the perilous journey to Yushu to help provide education for the local children. Zhang Yue reports.

Yushu, a place hardly known by most people in China before the 7.1 magnitude earthquake on April 14, 2010, drew large numbers of volunteers and rescue workers to the area after the disaster.

Many of them, visiting Yushu for the first time, have vivid memories of the rough road conditions and wretched weather in the area, which caused major difficulties for the rescue and reconstruction efforts after the quake.

But long before the earthquake, a group of people were visiting Yushu, the waterhead of China's three major rivers (the Yellow River, the Yangtze River and the Lancang River) several times a year to provide help to the local people., a nation-wide non-governmental organization that strives to improve living conditions and help children living in poverty-stricken areas in west China, has attracted hundreds of volunteers around the country since its establishment in 2005.

Over the past six years, the organization has helped more than 18,000 children in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau to receive compulsory education through its One-to-One project, which means one donor helps one student.

"We name ourselves Gesanghua (Dasiphora fruticosa) because it is known as the most beautiful flower on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. We hope that with our commitment, the future of the children living in the area will be as bright as the flower," says 46-year-old Hong Bo, founder of

Hong was initially drawn to the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau by a desire to see the amazing scenery, but a life-threatening experience opened her eyes to the harsh lives of the local people and made her determined to help them.

"I was totally intimidated by a flood and mud-rock flow on my first visit to Yushu in 2004. I was trapped in the heavy flood and could not move. It was an old Tibetan man in a jeep that saved my life," recalls Hong.

She later learned that the flood and mudflow was a comparatively mild one for that area. The road connecting the villages in Yushu with the outside world was a lonely and hazardous one.

Even now, visits are still risky propositions as potential danger accompanies a journey such as this.

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