Mystery behind hookworms Chapter 3

On Mao Yang 毛阳
During the 5 hours in a couch rebounding up and down, we had left the coast area and went deep into the inner land shrouded by thick tropical fog. It was very humid.

We didn’t even noticed we had reached a town until the couch stopped. As we got off, we at once found ourselves on the middle of a road, as well as the middle of a market place. I looked around, and what greeted me were two lines of stout brick houses siding along the narrow road, which had been occupied by tricycles, vans, vegetable baskets and peddlers who were yelling for buyers. From the uproar, I faintly discerned the cry of a baby, the bargain shout, the of engines, and curses at times. The crowded market smelled like a mingling of poultry, motors, and mud. Peeping through the margin between the houses I only saw far-reaching rice fields behind. I suddenly understood what the word “town” means. It’s just a sect of the cross-province way through a small village. Welcome to Mao Yang!

A man in common dressing came up to us. He was not tall but seemed strong, as anyone who had long stayed in the wild. He was exactly the health-care governor Lin Shaoxiong. He recognized us at the first glance since our wearing must be strange to the town. With a friendly smile, he ushered us to the only hotel in the town by the road. Though up till now everything went well, none of us dared to relax as we still had no idea of what really was going on in this unfamiliar place.

We spent the night on a little food shop. At the table, the first round of interview began. We tried to look into the governor’s mind and discerned what might be eyewash. But he appeared very frank, showing a practical and rustic touch.

Here is a record of the interview.

Q: Could you tell about the town?

A: Yes. The town is actually a coalition of three villages with 20000 people. It locates on the inner Hainan Island.

Q: When did you set up this investigation spot?

A: in 2005, last year.

Q: Why?

A: in 2005, a journalist (confirmed as a journalist of New Jing Newspaper, Beijing-based, different from the one of AFP) covered that the neglect of the residents and the local government let hookworm harm people’s health. The report caught the attention of provincial officials. The chairman of Provincial People Representative Committee appealed to the central government for fund. And soon we got support to conduct the research.

Q: how is it going now?

A: we set up 5 spots. Here is the middle spot. We had begun the research by talking with villagers and collecting feces for assay.

Q: what’s the problem?

A: I forgot the accurate number. But indeed there exist problems.

Q: could you give a rough judgment?

A: we have to take actions.

Q: what caused the problem? What cause the spread of hookworm?

A: the outhouse. Actually villagers have no outhouses and they egest on the field so that they are likely to contract the hookworm when they walk on the soil by bare feet.

Q: they don’t have the habit of wearing shoes?

A: some don’t care this.

Q: do villagers still use feces as fertilizer?

A: No, they now use the chemical fertilizer and it won’t hold hookworm larvae.

Q: could they get support if they are going to build new outhouses?

A: yes. 200 RMB each from the country finance. But it needs 800 totally. Some still don’t wish to build one.

Q: how do the tablets work? They don’t cost much, do they?

A: indeed. But though they are cheap, villagers still are not willing to take them since nobody actually understand the disease is a harm.

Q: how is the health-care condition here?

A: (silent for a while) I feel sorry for this. Tomorrow you may see a real village clinic.

Q: finally I would like to know whether Wanning has hookworm outbreak.

A: No, there isn’t.

Then we exposed the report to him. He immediately affirmed it fabricated the location. This aroused a question: why had the both news agencies mistaken the location? Was the authority still covering up the outbreak in Wanning?

But after all, we had up till then confirmed the situation. There did exist the ignorance of this disease. But at least the government has taken the action. What remained are these: how serious was this disease in the village? How much work had the government really done? How much were the villagers aware of the problem and how difficult was it for them to build outhouses and change the ill sanitation habit? All were to be solved in the field research tomorrow.

The infinite corridor!
Kidding~, just the little hotel we spent a sleepless night.


Mystery behind hookworms Chapter 2

1st encounter

After a 2-hour flight we reached Haikou city where The Provincial Public Health Department settled. At the moment we stepped into the headquarter none of us 8 group members had any idea of what was going to happen next, in that except the several names in the reports we read we knew nothing else, including the official attitude, the specific locations of epidemic areas and the detailed situations there. We didn’t know where we should go, when we might be going, what else we might need——we have to first act then react.

Fortunately, the governor surnamed Hong was quite a kind person smiling friendly to us and showed no disfavor. Discreetly checking our introduction letter, he nodded and instantly gave a call to the chief of health department. Hearing our plan, Wen Feng, the chief, ardently told the current situation concerned hookworm in a frank manner.

Government in action

In 1986, a functionary named Lin Shaoxiong has conducted a survey that covered the whole province, which demonstrated 94.7% of residents had been infected by kinds of parasites, an amazing result topped the nation. But not until 2005 had parasite ever been a focus because paludism, a deadly disease, was the main deal. However, in 2005, a reporter wrote an article featuring hookworm’s lurking damage and the report got attention from senior officials who later ordered the local government to solve the problem. That’s how a new project aimed at supervising and controlling hookworm started in 2005. The project leader was exactly Lin Shaoxiong who was then a provincial officer. For his strong field experience, Lin led the project and set 5 experimental spots, the east, south, north, west, and middle, scattered all over the Hainan island.

Lin Shaoxiong, who was the most qualified person to clear all the mystery, was now staying in the middle spot, a small town called Mao Yang which is hidden in hinterland encircled by mountains and tropical jungles.

Wen’s narration stopped here, curiously gazing at us. The 8 of us had the same idea across our mind. We had found our destination tonight.

To be continued……

Mystery behind hookworms Chapter 1

A Risk, An Investigation

What’s the reality hidden behind the sensational story featured on newspaper? Which one should we believe, the national authority or World Health Organization? No matter what they write and say, as we have decided to find the truth, we can just rely on our own senses and first-hand data collected from the frontline to determine. That’s how the 7-day field research came into being, the base of the whole Eradicate Hookworm Action (EHA).

What heard from foreign media

Hookworm infection is intimately related to poverty. Hookworm is an intestinal parasite whose larvae live in the soil, and pass directly through the skin. Simply walking barefoot on contaminated soil can get infected. Once the larvae get in, they migrate to the intestines, where they sucked their victims’ blood. The results are anemia and malnutrition that “stunt physical development and affects cognitive and intellectual development”, according to Peter Hotez at George Washington University. Because the worms lay eggs that come out in the human feces, they can impel a vicious cycle in areas where feces are disposed randomly on soil. Unfortunately, China is the case.

A survey by WHO indicated 78 million rural dwellers in China are suffering from hookworm. The disease “dramatically” affected farmers’ health condition and local economy. It’s a warm bed of poverty.

However, the cure is relatively simple since a tablet called praziquantel costs only $0.07 as a treatment. But the next step is complicated. Farmers usually feel only slight symptoms after infection as the chronic consumption is uneasy to notice, and the government would never heed the disease when its agenda is filled by economic matters. The immature NGOs in China can’t help, either. That’s where the problem lies.


Suffering and poverty as forgotten parasite sucks blood of China's farmers

Who to believe?

But the domestic version is different. An official of sanitation department in Hainan Province, where the disease is rampant accordingly, denied the hookworm has ever been a problem. The situation of the ignorance of hookworm was covered by AFP (Beijing) as well by New Jing Daily, a Beijing-based newspaper. The two reports were present individually on March and May, 2005. Baesd on the content, we reckoned the domestic journalist was inspired by the AFP to cover the incident.

After discussion, our EHA group listed several disputable points in the both reports, which roughly keep the same points and facts . Under vaccine rule, children have to take inoculation in local clinics at certain age. Also, the tablets mentioned for curing are far from rare, and the average earning of Hainan residents (about $1000/year) can indeed afford them. Is the local government really so ignorant that it is not even able to guarantee the basic health condition?

Marching to Hainan

Has anyone covered up the fact? Has anyone exaggerated? All these could be illustrated only after an investigation in person. But in China, interfering in such things would certainly receive no approval but a cold refusal, due to the control-all authority that innately disputes “meddling in”. Therefore, to reduce the pressure we might meet——after all, we are just kids——we asked the school Communist League for help and got an introduction letter so that we may conduct the research by the name of “Social Practice”. On 28th, Nov, the 8-person team set off.


China: Reality shows forbidden

Seen on Global Voice as well(here)

No one would forget how popular Super Girl was on 2005. As a talent-search reality competition, it created a miracle both in economy and culture impact. Besides over 400 millions viewers watching the final episode, varied fans clubs founded across China and a revenue of 9 figures high in total, it was even extolled to the height of Democratic Expression because the winner was voted by short messages from viewers. Following this hallmark, more than 200 reality shows then emerged.

But on the 21st of September, State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), the head of all TV stations, gave such programs a blitz. It promulgated a strict rule aiming at regulating reality shows, criticizing some of them as so vulgar that they hurt the reputation of media. From the 3 main points of the decree, those who are familiar with Chinese TV ecosystem would find deeper relish. The decree itself also came to be a controversy in an unusual way.

Part 1; reality shows will be expelled out of golden time (19:30 to 22:30)
After 1st, October, 2007, from 19:30 to 22:30, no satellite television stations of provincial level or superior should hold such selective shows (talen-search competitions) that have multitude participation.
Actually, because of fund limitation, the hot shows were mainly organized by provincial TV stations. Therefore, the rule substantially sweeps such shows out of screen during golden time.

Part 2; strict and detailed control on duration; also, no live show is allowed.
For any TV station, such shows should not be broadcasted more than once every year, with the duration being no more than two months, content being less than ten episodes, and each episode being shorter than 90 mins. No live show should be allowed except the final episode, while it has to keep a delay of at least 1 minute.

Part 3; finally, a constraint on content aiming to resist the vulgarity.
Emcee lines as well as judges' critiques, contestants' or fans' short speeches, and introductions should be cut back a lot, with a total duration being no longer than 20% of the whole program. In singing competition, domestic songs should take up more than 75% of all.
Don't make any stunt or purposively express seditious or sensational words; don't bruit rumors about contestants.
Hosts should not flatter, flirt with or dig at each other.

Just before the decree was announced, the administration had halted a program of Chongqing TV station called The First Heart Temptation (第一次心动), for the cause named Ring-gate Case. On one episode of the live show, two judges furiously condemned each other because of a stunt by a constant. The situation was out of control then, which was seriously criticized by administration as a trick, vulgar and shameless, of capturing eyeballs.

This series of actions clearly demonstrates central administration’s disapproval of such shows. It has now turned into a practical regulation. To this relentless restraints and narrow rules, again, netizens expressed their opinions;

Some people doubted its validity. The following anonymous comments are from Netease.com, signed by their locations:

Shenzhen:This really made me dumbfounded. I think it would seem right only if we are not allowed to get on internet.
Changsha, Hunan:Governmental actions!!! Government just did what they fancy.I think this kind of talent-search show is quite good. It must have affected ratings of China central television and therefore they made such a regulation.Alas.When could mass media really be mass???

However, except for a paucity of objections like above, this time, most of netizens came to stand with government. They demonstrate their strong support.
Kunming, YunnanI very much appreciate the uncompromising measures taken by states administration. In order to pander to some people’s lower taste, a few entertainment programs have long been terribly shoddy

Qingdao, Shandong:Strongly support it!!!! Resolutely stand with it!!!Such vulgar and baneful stuff should have been eradicated long before!!!!Look what children have now become!!!Look how meretricious our community has now been!!!
In a poll on MSN.com, more than 86% people approve of the measure. Rengjian Zhendao in Netease has a typical critique that shows voices of many people:

The administration has finally done something good to public! That's wonderful!Yang'er won't show up again, Lotus Sister will be gone! Those tomboys vanish.Mean stuff that misdirect young people to drop study and indulge them in pipe dreams of overnight fame will be less!! Those that drive a sane person mad will be less either!(Annotation: Yang'er is the judge in a talent-search show, Lotus Sister will be introduced below, tomboys are allusions to Super Girl)

To understand this grumble you might have to know the landscape of Chinese television. Many people condemn the increasing entertainments programs are getting more and more low-quality, glutted by blatant and pretentious people. The Lotus Sister might be the most famous one. She is a “celebrity” famous for her coquettish postures with body curved in S shape and irredeemable self-love, though her boorish visage shocks everyone that see her pictures. Though audience tagged her “nauseating” and “disgusting”, she still frequently appears on screen since TV stations use her as a stunt.

Some people furthermore comment that certain televisions and talent-search shows have nothing but gaudy sensationalization:
节目制作者一切向“钱”看,只要能赚钱,想方设法制造噱头,同性恋、选手堕胎、家庭丑闻,不少节目越来越低俗。齐鲁晚报  张莹
Programmers did everything for money and only for money. They tried all methods to make stunts, such as homosexual, contestants' abortion, and family scandals, which make the shows more vulgar.
By Qi Ru Evening Post Zhang Ying

Cheng Yunfa (陈云发) criticized some shows as “pollution”:
Some TV stations disregarded public interest and hunted for money on self-seeking.…… They polluted our society's spirit. They have only themselves to blame.

These programs' misguidance of youngsters is another public focus. A student in secondary school spent 200 thousand Yuan to join in Super Girl. A boy in Guang Xi stole money to send short message voting for his idol, and even committed robbery for this crazy cause.

Liu Haoping (刘浩平) appealed in United Morning Post:
Is the temptation created by TV media to find talents or to misguide youngsters? Where do they lead young people to? TV media should certainly be blamed on as creating such a fanatic morbide phenomenon in society.

Obviously, TV stations and talent-search shows have been targets of public criticism. That is why public choose to stand firmly with government on this issue. Under the surge of protests and official interdictionthe, the vulgar shows are likely to retreat . However, we still need more thinking on interminable problems facing Chinese mass media:

Why do talent-shows finally have to become farces and stunts? How should we treat them; do we simply need a relentless interdiction? Can we make high-quality and charming reality shows again? Or are we really going to amuse ourselves to death?


Sex and Children

“Oh, dear me!” that’s what Ms. Wang yelled out when she found several R film DVD in her 14 year-old son’s room. What’s inside is bare sex. She looked up the DVD package and soon tracked to a supermarket nearby. It was in Qingdao, Shandong.

How difficult is it to get this R DVD? Very simple. Journalist followed Ms. Wang and soon discovered in Section of Children Book and Video a whole shelf of such DVDs, straightforwardly put there and any child can approach. On the cover there printed ribaldries like “rapture” and “temptation” and pictures of sex on which was noted “reality exposition”.

“The wrong thing in wrong place” should be put on these DVDs. The police soon came and took over the total 300 ill DVDs.

I don’t know how many curious boys and girls have picked up one or two of the DVDs. But I am clear they could be put anywhere but children section. The excuse supermarket manager gave was a quite a fun. He said, “We don’t care what it is inside, they are legally stoked in by legal suppliers.” In a few words he kicked away all duties and pretended to be blind. I now see how the tragedy one month ago that a 16-year-old boy raping his retardate cousin has happened. He was stimulated by such DVDs. Though it happened in Guangzhou, I think if we just put these DVDs in front of millions of children and meanwhile give no proper education we will soon have more rapists. Could adults really take duties?

Murderers: 13-year-old girls

It’s not a stunt. It’s not a chance-medley. It’s a well-planned murder and the murderers are two 13-year-old girls who kidnapped and killed a 4-year-old boy.

It happened on 2nd, Oct in a village of Fujian that Ms. Wang found her 4-year-old boy not back on dinner time after going out with two neighbor girls. Soon the two girls, both 13-year-old grade school students, were back and told that the boy had been taken away by a microbus. After a while vice squad came and felt the girls’ narration suspicious. A 30-minute “interrogation” later, they confessed.

They told that they saw on TV many people who kidnap can easily get a whole suitcase of cash. Enticing by that, they came up with a plan to imitate the method, trying to make 60 thousand yuan and share it to buy new clothes and snacks. They thought, and they did. Before they managed to take a boy they had failed twice. On the third time, they successfully coaxed a 4-year-old boy by candies and took him onto a hill. Because the hungry boy cried out for dinner, they were in such a panic that one of the girls clutched the boy’s throat to muzzle him. Soon he was choked.

That might be the most shocking news during the 7-day National holidays. I heard in 2005 two boys in England killed another 2 year-old boy relentlessly. I haven’t expected that in Communist China we could meet the same thing. Some thought the TV should be blamed as it is now glutted by violence and sex. Indeed, we need to protect children from this vulgar stuff until they can judge the right and wrong. But don’t you think education should have been the most firm firewall? After 3 years staying in grade school couldn’t they tell that kidnap is wrong. Who should be blamed? What have they learnt there?

Sometime we forgot to tell a teenager killing is wrong. We thought we don’t need. But animalism in human nature is far from being eradicated. It might erupt someday if stimulated by hatred or tempted by money. It’s notable that in the case the two girls are exactly pursuing money for a very naive dream by a very insidious plot though they hadn’t planned to kill. But in that situation when they gave a wrong first shot they found no way back. Could education really extinguish the evil on cradle?

I feel lucky not in the City of God. China should not be alike.


China: Has Crazy English gone crazy?

Crazy English is a private education agency in which the founder Li Yang advocates a new method to study English; namely, to shout out antiquated English phrases and seize every chance to approach an English speaker for a conversation, all for sweeping the shyness away. Learners should scream deafening English out with all their strength. It has study centers all over China, and is so well-known that millions of English learners have taken its courses in less than a decade since its inception.

However, a picture recently posted on Li Yang’s blog has become a rather controversial topic, receiving everything from condemnation, sarcasm, and even support. The strong reaction in the blogsphere and media have made the story unavoidable.
The picture posted on 4th, September shows that 3000 students kneeled down to their Crazy English teachers. It was taken at an open ceremony of the second Crazy English Training Base in Bao Tou, Inner Mongolia . They are all students in a local high school.
Numbers of furious netizens soon condemned this not an education, but a brainwashing of servility and spinelessness, because in China, kneeling down has historically been a symbol of being slavish to power.

Blogger Tong Wandou(铜豌豆) questioned:
Though worship on bent knees showed an upmost courtesy, it represents kingship that emphasized more on inequality among people, rather than mutual respect in accordance with modern society.

Xu Xiaoping(徐小平), the teacher of New Oriental, another agency that helps students crack Toefl and SAT, shed a hail of criticism on Li Yang:
The incident that Li Yang accepted the kneeling of students will have to be remarkable news in education field this year. It signs how seriously the core value has been lost in Chinese education. Li Yang yet showed open appreciation to the shocking bent knees. It demonstrates nothing but that he doesn’t know what education really means at all.

Moreover, some compared Li Yang to a would-be hierarch of evil cult (邪教):
笔者知道,越是神化了自己,李阳的疯狂英语会更加的红火。说到底,这是一种奴化人性的教育,是一种迷惑人的教育。这与民间的装神弄鬼来骗钱的把戏,没有本质上的区别。我不是英语老师,但我知道,学习英语却不必疯狂。难道美国人、英国人学习自己的语言也要通过疯狂的方式?笔者看武侠小说,那些邪教门派总是通过下跪等方式神化自己,以达到统率的目的。而李阳的某种方式却与之挺像。难道李阳也走火入魔了?谁来拯救他? ——海峡都市报 王军荣
Li Yang enshrined himself to prosper Crazy English, a bewitching education, which has nothing different from a deceitful trick. I am not an English teacher, but I know we don't have to be crazy to study English. Are American and English mad when studying their mother tongue?In swordsmen fictions, I see those cult (illegal group) leaders always summon giaours to kneel down in order to enshrine themselves and get the regime. Li Yang did quite the same. Is Li Yang insane as well? Who come to save him? By Wang Junrong on Strait Metropolitan Daily

Li Yang’s post received over 270000 clicks and 500 comments in just several days. Obviously, these comments are out of Li Yang’s expectation. But he refused to concede, and in his post on 8th, September, he insisted on his position:
Here, I would have to declare my point; firstly, it was I that suggested students kneeling down to teachers for thanksgiving; secondly, I think this is a common but significant kneel!
He stated what happened that day; he firstly suggested learners bowing down for an appreciation to the teachers, but soon changed to advising them kneeling instead because of the limited space. Students took his proposal, and then did that voluntarily.

In interviews, Li Yang agued that this behavior means deep introspection because we often forget to appreciate those who helped us much, and compared it to that German prime minister kneeled in Poland . He meanwhile criticized Xu Xiaoping’s writing style as like those in Culture revolution, when people maligned and blackened one another.

But most netizens didn't drop their criticisms. Zhang Junyi (张军昱) rebuked in his blog;

Surely nothing is wrong with thanksgiving. However, to apply such a method almost abandoned nowadays is itself an emotional outrage of thanksgiving.
Xu Xunlei doubted Li Yang misunderstands the meaning of education:

教育的核心价值是“立人 ”,如今却是“跪人”。把下跪磕头等同于尊师重教,这根本就不值一驳。教育的奴性与奴性的教育,在反复戕害孩子的心灵。
The essence of education is to foster one’s integrity and independence, not to press one to kneel down. To equal such a behavior to respect of teachers is worth no rebuke.
And some netizens furthermore argued that the students were obliged down because of that oppressing atmosphere built by Li Yang, like in a Nazi congregation.

Though Li Yang is under waves of reprehensions, many still stand with him. In Li Yang’s blog, a fans of Crazy English named Wang Zhijie (王志杰) left a comment:
Those who achieve have to taste great solitary!

No one can definitely tell whether Chinese are too sensitive with the past servile age, or it’s just a stunt by BSP Sina.com, or even a trick by Li Yang to catch eyeballs in an unusual way. All in all, in this cross swords of either side, Li Yang, the protagonist under focus, might be the most resolute man clinging to his point. That’s how he summarized the whole thing:
李阳回应:“下跪的照片是真的,我已经习以为常了,学生下跪是对老师的尊重。过几天我还要去成都讲课,相信可以让成都最好中学的全体学生下跪。” 9月10日< 新快报>
The picture is real, and I have been used to this ( kneeling ). It shows the respect to teachers. A couple of days later I am going to have class in Cheng Du, and I believe, I can make the best students there kneel down as well.