DURING an eight-day visit to Jinxiu and Wuxuan, two of the more backward prefectures in Guangxi, China, my friend and I saw for ourselves the appalling living conditions of the population. We were prompted to make this call for greater awareness of the conditions of Guangxi people and help raise funds for them. During our stay, we found one of the major reasons for Guangxi's poverty - poor infrastructure, which hinders trade and prosperity and the exchange of information and knowledge. The low standard of living in Guangxi can be explained by the dryness of the land, resulting in poor agricultural yields, and the high population growth rate. Poor hygiene, the lack of arable land in a mountainous landscape (there are actually places in Guangxi called '90,000 Peaks Range' and '100,000 Peaks Range', adding up to 190,000 peaks in those two ranges alone!) and the lack of money to invest in infrastructure and industry result in poor living conditions. I was particularly touched by two things in the Di'you village in Wuxuan. The first is a friendliness, gratitude and generosity that is so seldom found in Hong Kong. As we interviewed individual households, we were given gifts like local-woven fans, offered what I estimated to be three kilograms of freshly harvested peanuts, and an amused-yet-patient attempt to understand my Martian Mandarin. The second unforgettable encounter was with a specific household - that of a widow left with six children who apparently lacked the literacy to name them in the village register. Throughout the trip, with accommodation and transport arranged by the Guangxi Hope Foundation, we were treated incredibly luxuriously by local standards. Yet if we had not seen the villages, we would certainly have had a lot to complain about. Hence the differences in living standards and expectations between Hong Kong and a land just some 400 kilometres away. We discovered that only through education could people turn parched land into productive hubs (as they do in Israel and California), appreciate the need for population control, understand the necessity for hygiene, know how to become entrepreneurs and government officials. Guangxi is by no means hopeless. With a skilled workforce and capital, the mountains could be used to generate hydroelectric power and for mining. Remember also that today's Hong Kong grew out of Lord Palmerston's barren rock. Bearing all this in mind, we decided to help fight against illiteracy in Guangxi. 'Poverty Peelers', based in Shatin College and officially delegated by the Guangxi Hope Foundation, is an organisation formed to execute this plan. Our objectives include raising money for the construction of a new school in Guangxi and for the purchase of stationery and securing sponsorships for individual students. We need your help in organising fund-raising activities in schools apart from Shatin College. We also need volunteers and donations. For more information, please fax me on 2695 0592. My school address is 3 Lai Wo Lane, Sha Tin. Ka-chun is the organiser of Poverty Peelers, Shatin College ARE there any interesting activities that have been organised in your school that you want to share with others? Please contact CHARISSA CHAO on 2680 8160 or provide details (date, time, venue and content of the event, your name and contact number) and fax them to us on 2660 5378. Young Post will edit articles submitted.