In my last blog, I opened up about my (and my daughters’) struggle with mornings. I had found many reasons to be grateful for the opportunities that we have, and did my best to explain this to them. I gave them a quick history lesson in regards to how past generations had to travel to school. Recently I came across a news article that I thought would be a great learning opportunity for all of us. The article was on Foxnews.com a few months ago entitled, “China to replace treacherous 2,625-foot ladder to school with stairs.”
The article claimed that 15 children between the ages of 6-15 climb up the cliffside ladder to return home from the boarding school. The two-hour trip is so demanding, they only return home twice a month. The children live in the village of Atuleer in Sichuan province of West China. Due to the village’s extreme seclusion, climbing the 17 separate ladders is their only way to get home from school.
Dramatic photos of local children on the "sky ladders," (as locals call them) were recently published on the front page of the China Daily (an English-language newspaper) as well as various other publications. This publicity prompted embarrassed officials in Western China to respond with a proposal of building a set of stairs. A news release from the “Liangshan prefectural government that oversees the county said a solid set of steel stairs would be built as a stop-gap measure as officials considered a longer-term solution.” This is a great victory for the 72 families who live there and I am excited to see something accomplished to aid these children and their families in their quest for education.
My daughters were confused as to why these children “don’t just take the bus.” This prompted another discussion about the poverty and seclusion that some experience. The Global Times stated, “A team of 50 officials from the Zhaojue county government's transport, education and environmental protection departments traveled to the area on Wednesday to assess safer alternatives. The county is considering building a road to the village, although the cost would be exorbitant for such a poor region.” The article went on to state, “most of China's poorest people are from long-marginalized minority groups or are farmers and herders living in the mountainous southwest, where rope bridges, aerial runways, canoes and cliffside ladders remain crucial to accessing the outside world.”
While looking at photos of the sweet children and their dangerous trek to school, I encouraged my daughters (and myself) to think of the struggle that those children encounter and how we are privileged to have easy access to our schools!