My Week in Guizhou - with the Guizhou Rose Society of Edmonton by Vincent Lee (65)
In the fall of 2009, I was looking for some kind of volunteer work that would allow me an opportunity to travel and to work in some dental or other capacity in a place where such services are needed - as long as it is not in a war zone (Doctors without Borders sometimes do that; I don't feel like working in an environment with bullets flying over my head!). I almost ended up going to Nicaragua around Christmas time 2009, but that didn't work out. And, because I couldn't go, I was able to attend a friend's Christmas dinner party, at which I ran into an old friend Dr. Chao Tai, a neurologist in Edmonton, who was originally from Singapore. His son, now also a neurologist, and my son, Sigmund, were high school classmates, and they learned music and piano from the same piano teacher. Much to my delight, I learned that for the preceding four years, Dr. Tai had been leading a group from Edmonton to do volunteer work in Guizhou Province (貴州省) in southwest China. I expressed my interest in joining his group, and ended up going with him for his fifth year into this remote part of interior China. Timing was perfect for me. After my Zhangjiajie tour, instead of returning to Hong Kong from Chengsha, I flew from Chengsha to Guiyang (貴陽), the capital city of Guizhou.
Guizhou Province, together with its neighbouring province Yunnan, is part of a plateau in southwest China (雲貴高原), with a range of elevations between 1000 to 2000 meters. It is hilly and wet, but the sandstone soil is of poor quality. I was told that only about 15 to 20 percent of its land can be used for agricultural use. Its capital Quiyang (貴陽) city is quite vibrant, though nothing like any of the coastal major centres. The province has a fairly well developed highway network amongst its major cities; but beyond that, the roads into the country side and villages are still narrow, and not well maintained. There are four major components to our group's visit: (1) The free clinic to villages; (2) Water projects to remote villages; (3) School visits, and (4) Visit to churches.