“Hello, dear uncles! My final grade was pretty good and ranked the 3rd in my class. Thank you a lot for your care and help…”
The opening lines are from one of more than 60 letters expressing deep gratitude that Pakistani children have written to employees of a Chinese company.
Four years ago, after completing important infrastructure projects including the Karakoram Highway (KKH) Improvement Project, Chinese engineers of the China Road &Bridge Corporation, or CRBC, went all the way to Pakistan again to join the construction of the KKH Phase II Project, introducing Chinese standards and technologies to the towering mountains on the border between the two countries.
With a total length of 118 kilometers, the KKH Phase II Project was opened to traffic in July this year. It is the backbone of the north-south passage of Pakistan’s road network.
The completion of the project could boost Pakistan’s economic development and further promote China-Pakistan economic and trade cooperation.
It plays an essential role in strengthening Pakistan’s international trade ties with neighboring Central Asian countries and improving Pakistan’s investment environment, said He Yun, an assistant professor at the School of Public Administration at Hunan University.
During the construction of the KKH Phase II Project, the CRBC Pakistan office provided specialized public welfare funds every year to help local disadvantaged groups, with the beneficiaries including children in the SOS Children’s Villages in Pakistan, an organization that provides alternative care for children who can no longer live with their parents.
The SOS Children’s Villages in Pakistan was built in 1982. It is a nongovernmental public welfare organization that accommodates about 160 orphans and abandoned children from Mansehra, Abbottabad, Bataclan and other regions.
Lacking financial support for a long time, most of the facilities were too old to meet the basic living and learning needs of the children there.
Li Zhihuai, then general manager of the CRBC Pakistan office, said that while constructing high-quality projects for the Pakistani people, Chinese people have also brought benefits to the local society and residents, having developed a genuine friendship with local people.
Ma Guiming, a director of the office, recalled when he first saw a 2-year-old boy named Ehsan, whose small hands left a deep impression on him.
“The back of his hands was chapped and rough, unlike the skin of a two-year-old. It hurts when looking at it,” he said. “There was no hot water in the orphanage, and children could only wash with cold water in winter, so their skin turned red and even had cracks from the cold.”
Soon, the office added SOS Children’s Villages as a recipient of targeted assistance.
On Aug 22, 2017, the “Love Orphans” charity donation and renovation project was launched in SOS Children’s Villages.
“We renovated and decorated the orphanage’s houses, equipped the orphanage with water heaters, solar panels, uninterrupted power supplies, batteries, and other essential daily necessities, and we also donated books, school supplies, etc,” Ma recalled.
“Ni Hao! Xie Xie Shu Shu! (Hello! Thank you, uncles!).” A child named Amy who just received some donated books and paintbrushes, expressed her gratitude to the Chinese engineers in halting Mandarin.
Workers of the office often purchased and donated clothing, flour, rice, fruits, milk, and other daily necessities to the orphanage, played games with the children, and celebrated major local festivals together, which enriched the life of the children there.
“Children are the flowers of friendship, the bridges, and links for passing on China-Pakistan friendship, and they are the hope for the future of the country,” said project director Wu Shixiang. “We hope that the friendship between China and Pakistan is higher than the mountains, deeper than the sea, and sweeter than honey.”
The project office has also launched activities to help the locals, providing people from poverty-stricken families in remote areas with medical services and helping villagers build hardened roads, Wu said.