Student-founded charity sends books to China

By Clarissa Parulian

His dirt-smeared cheeks lift as he smiles at holding his very own book. Small hands trace the black lettering of the cover and stop at the picture. It cracks open, and he smells, for the first time, that fresh scent of a library. When picturing China, the words “heavily populated” and “economic powerhouse” come to mind. What doesn’t exactly come to mind is poverty, let alone the need for books and supplies, but there is a lot of space for it in the vast country. While we live on the other side of the world, there are certainly ways to help those kids and families in need. Sophomore Phoebe Fu seeks to accomplish just this by starting her own charity to give books to children who live in poverty in China and raising awareness for the many families in this situation.

As a kid, Fu lived in China with her grandparents for several years.

“I was most affected [in the area of service] by my grandmother,” Fu said. “She was fairly well off, the CEO of her own company. One day she took me to one of the very poorest villages in China because she told me that the life that I lived was very privileged, which is true, and she took me there to donate wheelchairs, essential supplies, and things like that. That really affected me because when you’re six years old, and you go into that completely different world, your whole perspective tends to slip and reshape.”

Truly this event has shaped her, as she now takes on the goal of starting her own charity within the next three months. Fu is starting from scratch, carrying her school load as well as seeking the help of others, world-wide. She has contacts in China, India, and the support of the founder of a charity called Mana Vata, meaning “humanity” in Sanskrit. Fu’s charity aims at collecting books and raising awareness about the poverty in China. The charity will send the books to kids in China, and if all goes well, she hopes to expand the project into India.


In addition to this project, Fu holds her own job, offered by the CEO of a startup company under contributions of a Chinese celebrity host, Meng Fei.

“Part of my job is to make up questions to do interviews for students over in China,” Fu said. “I explain to them, you know, the lifestyle in America, how it’s different. I also organize activities for the company.”

Fu attended school in China and is bilingual in Chinese and English. She works with immigrants in multiple sessions, helping them understand the new culture.

“My favorite part is seeing them be able to develop and find confidence in what they’re saying,” Fu said. “It makes me kind of nostalgic, but I also really like seeing different cultures and aspects of the world, so I love getting back in touch with my old culture. It’s really nice to see that completely fresh and raw Chinese mentality sometimes.”

This connection to her culture motivates her activism in giving back.

“My desire to help others is very simple,” Fu said. “It’s just, you’re human, I’m human. We’re in this one world together, right? So if we don’t help each other, who will?”