During the break from reading activities, Rolling Books has been spending more time with the ethnic minority families and have identified other needs the families may have.
James: We cannot do a lot of the physical meetings anymore since the beginning of coronavirus. The events at the schools are postponed and since last year, we haven’t been able to run many parent-children activities on the weekends, because most of the protests were on Sunday. For our organization there are impacts, but fortunately I don’t have a lot of staff to take care of. If these activities are postponed, then we will do it later. One of the larger impacts would be on the beneficiaries. We do not provide direct service; in the past we never had a fixed group of beneficiaries, because we often went to different schools to do reading activities.
Since coronavirus, ethnic minorities children are becoming the target primary beneficiaries. The schools are without class and we can’t do face-to-face story-telling, so we take videos of storytelling in Chinese and send these to them. We have collected masks and hand sanitizers to give them, too, and we would go find them with our wooden cart with the books, go up to their homes and let them choose their books, so it’s like a library at their door. The impact of coronavirus for them is bigger, but at least for the time being we are able to keep in contact with them. We are always interacting with them in this period and we are able to better plan the next step. Our mission statement is that through reading, we can build resilience in the children, and tell children about this resilience. Our organization too, have to be resilient even in a situation like this.
Primarily at the homes of ethnic minority families, we can hear about their needs. For example, we would ask what problems they would have: in the beginning they don’t have enough masks and the masks are too expensive; then after that, we heard some parents say they didn’t have enough sanitary products—these are the needs that we identified. This has nothing to do with reading, but when we heard of such needs, we did what we could. We also heard that they think it is very expensive to pay for the tuition when the kids are not going to school, and that the families do not know how to use Zoom. Schools want to use Zoom for classes at home, but in some homes, there are not enough computers. We would have to think a little more when designing our services, so even if we don’t use face-to-face interactions, we hope to design interactions using Whatsapp video, because these parents have Whatsapp, so Whatsapp video is still okay. I have heard external parties asking me why I don’t use Zoom for childrens’ program during the coronavirus outbreak. It’s not that I don’t know how to use Zoom, it’s that the people don’t know the families cannot spare a notebook or a phone to use Zoom. If you use Zoom, there are many technical things you need to do. I can’t expect them to use Zoom. Among all the softwares, the reason why we use Whatsapp live call is because we can only use this. We will not propose some things that are not beneficial to the people.