The Original Aspiration and Responsibility of Educational Volunteers

September 09 01:18 2023

Globally, approximately 60 million children are deprived of basic education due to a plethora of reasons, with the African continent facing an especially acute dearth of educational resources. Yet, amidst this backdrop, a young Chinese volunteer named Lily Zhu is delving deep into the heart of Africa, embodying the spirit of an innovative educational reformer, to explore and pioneer transformative changes in the educational paradigm.​

Global Perspective Gives Rise to a Mission

Lily’s journey began during her high school years in the UK, where her school maintained robust ties with African communities, regularly donating essentials. These interactions exposed Lily to the stark inequalities pervading global education, evoking in her deep empathy and a sense of responsibility. Interaction with African communities heightened her awareness of poverty and struggles afar. The COVID-19 pandemic further accentuated her concern for children in rural regions, prompting her resolute commitment to harnessing the power of education wherever it’s most needed.

The Genesis of an Educational Volunteer

Embarking on her mission, Lily joined an online educational initiative, teaching English in a small town in Hainan. Undeterred by limited resources, she gave her utmost to educate the local children. This endeavor sharpened her understanding of educational equity and rekindled her interest in Africa. As the pandemic persisted, Lily’s drive amplified. Reflecting on her previous interactions with a Kenyan orphanage, she felt the urge to do more. Collaborating with friends, she co-founded the NGO “Nexus,” which in less than a year, mobilized 80 high-school students to craft digital storybooks, disseminate knowledge about COVID-19, and initiate mental health education programs – all mirroring Lily’s unique insight into and dedication to educational equity.​​

Commitment Meets African Action

This summer, Lily ventured back to Africa, deeply immersing herself in varied regions to gauge the educational landscape, engaging in profound dialogues with local educators, students, and community leaders to unearth avenues for educational reform. Her endeavors garnered commendation from local communities and caught international attention. In Nairobi’s Kibera slums, she held profound conversations with Mr. Michael, founder of Project Elimu, who, against all odds, has been offering free ballet education for 16 years. This project introduced a beacon of hope and vitality to one of the world’s most impoverished zones. A testament to its success is 15-year-old Eugene, who, thanks to his dance prowess, secured a full scholarship to an American high school. His unwavering belief and deep-rooted love for his homeland profoundly moved Lily.

The Imperative and Challenges of Educational Equity

Lily’s explorations underscored the paramount importance of educational equity. From grassroots orphanages to middle-class private schools, she witnessed disparities in educational resources and mental health challenges. Her projects aim to enhance life skills and self-reliance among children, collaborating proactively with governmental entities to assist children with special needs. While visiting Nairobi University, a premier institution, she discerned the intricate challenges shadowing educational reforms. While strides towards reform are underway, structural issues persist, reminding people of the arduous and prolonged journey of educational transformation.


When asked about her years of educational exploration, Lily Zhu emphasized that non-profit initiatives, much like businesses, need sustainability to foster a positive, cyclic system ensuring longevity. Her African expedition represents a comprehensive deep dive into manifold facets of educational reform. From initial online educational endeavors and ballet training in slums to intensive research into systemic issues in universities, her initiatives touch upon varied educational layers, showcasing the diversity and intricacies of educational reforms. As numerous nations grapple with similar challenges, this young woman’s narrative enlightens us, suggesting that perhaps through innovation and perseverance, viable solutions might be within reach.

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