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Alumni group lends a hand to help students in Sierra Leone

By Yuan Shenggao | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-04 07:20
From left: Hilton Gbolie, special envoy for the president of Sierra Leone, Alie Kabba, foreign minister of Sierra Leone, and Zhuhai and Macao Tsinghua Redbud Alumni Association Chairman Ma Chichung, pose for a picture. Provided to China Daily

A Tsinghua University alumni association is playing an important role in promoting exchanges between China and Africa.

The alumni association in Zhuhai and Macao, known as the Zhuhai and Macao Tsinghua Redbud Alumni Association, was founded in 2015 in the Macao Special Administrative Region. It now has more than 6,000 members, consisting of Tsinghua graduates in all walks of life.

Since its founding, the association has devoted much of its energy to various social responsibility programs in China, and is now looking to do the same sort of work abroad, according to officials of the organization.

As a first step into the world of international charity efforts, it has targeted Sierra Leone.

At the invitation of Hilton Gbolie, special envoy for the president of Sierra Leone, Ma Chichung, chairman of the association, began a nine-day tour of the western African country on June 20.

He arrived at a remote, village on June 23, to visit a local school that has been selected as a target of the alumni association's assistance.

Ma got a first-hand look at the school, saying he was impressed by the children's willingness to learn, despite their circumstances.

The chairman had lunch with the children and said the food was not easy to swallow.

The experience prompted Ma and the group to step up their efforts; they've decided to select two schools in the country as the beneficiaries of their assistance.

After Ma came back to China, the alumni association launched a donation campaign among its members.

The donated money was used to buy necessities for the schools - including computers, desks, chairs, books and sports equipment.

The goods were packed in two containers, which departed from China on last Friday under the watchful eye of the embassy of Sierra Leone in China. They are scheduled to arrive in Sierra Leone before the autumn school term begins.

China and Sierra Leone have had a strong, friendly relationship since they established diplomatic ties 47 years ago.

China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, aiming to forge a community of shared future with countries and regions in Eurasia, Africa and beyond.

According to Ma, the Zhuhai and Macao Tsinghua Redbud Alumni Association is committed to contributing to the initiative by promoting the mutually beneficial ties between China and Africa.

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