FAQ

The background, aim and objective of Wu Zhi Qiao

What is the living condition for those remote and underprivileged rural villages located at the North West Mainland China now?
Under-developed transportation system, lack of resources and poor ecological environment, etc. are objective constraints that lead to low economic level and lack of primary infrastructure in remote rural villages. The education and health conditions are also relatively poor. In general, they are more vulnerable to disasters and climatic change.
The economy of Mainland China has been greatly improved, will it be the responsibility of local government to invest in the modernization of their transportation system? Why we need a charitable organization in Hong Kong to organize bridge building project in remote rural area in Mainland China?
The economy of Mainland China only improved in urban area. China is so large that government resources may not be able to reach remote areas, especially some remote rural and mountainous areas. Our role is to fill this gap. More importantly, we hope Hong Kong and Mainland China volunteers can visit those villagers in remote rural area in Mainland China through the Wu Zhi Qiao project. They can convey care and love to local villagers and let them know that they are not neglected by the outside world.
Instead of sending Mainland China and Hong Kong university students to go to the village to build the bridge, why don’t we just give donation to the local government and let them build the bridge themselves?
Building physical bridge for rural remote villagers is not the only objective of the Wu Zhi Qiao project. More importantly, the tripartite communication between Hong Kong and Mainland university students and villagers can be enhanced such that an invisible spiritual bridge will be built. Through participating in the bridge project, students can have more understanding of the local culture and the people’s livelihood. These personal experiences encourage students to contribute their effort to the needy continuously.

During the construction of the bridge, we emphasize not only the participation of volunteers and university students, but also the involvement and cooperation of local villagers, through which their sense of ownership to maintain and protect the completed bridge handed over to them can be strengthened. This practice can on the one hand, enhance the communication between students and villagers and on the other, enable villagers help themselves through imparting knowledge and skills from the volunteers during the bridge construction process.

It is hard to eliminate all problems exist in remote rural villages in Mainland China by the contribution of one charitable organization. Why Wu Zhi Qiao still insists on carrying out new bridge projects continuously?
The power of an individual is undoubtedly very limited. We expect to nurture younger generation their commitment and care to the community through their enthusiastic and conscientious participation in the project. We encourage them to experience the hardship of villagers so that they can treasure what they have and get the satisfaction from giving and serving others. We hope to inspire more young people to participate in our project and let the spirit of Wu Zhi Qiao be inherited without boundaries.

Organization & Participation of Wu Zhi Qiao

What is the relationship between Wu Zhi Qiao and participated university? How to ensure smooth operation when volunteers from university work for the project?
We treasure the self-initiated participation of the students. We encourage them to set up Wu Zhi Qiao team in their university and play dominant role under the supervision of their department and professor. The foundation will provide support to the university teams including project fund, technical guidance and solicit support from local and central government.

Besides the guidance given by the professor from university college and the department, the Foundation’s staff and the project committee will assist actively on communication and provide advice on how to manage and operate the project. The Foundation will also encourage communication, cooperation and learning between the participated institutions. Camping and meeting will also be organized to summarize and share the learning experience of the students.

The Foundation targets at student services. Does it mean that the public cannot participate in bridge construction activities?
We are eager to welcome the public to join the bridge building project. In general, students will get priority when applications exceed the limited quota. Furthermore, the participants must be at least 18 years old due to safety consideration.

Bridge building recruitment message will be published in the Foundation’s website. The public and university students can enroll to participate in the same way.

I do not have the background of civil engineering, architecture or construction industry. Can I participate in Wu Zhi Qiao project?
Wu Zhi Qiao has been advocating a high-technology cum low skillfulness method in bridge building. During the bridge building process, participants and villagers can help in the assembly or logistic work by following simple instructions though they have no professional background.

For Wu Zhi Qiao project, we not only need participants with professional background in the design and construction of bridges, but also those who can help in the areas such as coordination, advertising design, medical, logistics, photography and video work. We believe that both the students from different disciplines or backgrounds and the public can apply their best. We sincerely welcome students having background of any discipline to join the Wu Zhi Qiao team in their university and help in the bridge building coordination work, or enrol in a one-off bridge construction activity.

How can I be qualified for joining Wu Zhi Qiao university team?
Participating students need to be proactive, responsible, enthusiastic in bridge construction project planning and cross-cultural collaboration, willing to cooperate and communicate with others and keen to learn. They also need to participate actively in promoting team work and Wu Zhi Qiao project and to share the experience and knowledge so gained.
How can we organize Wu Zhi Qiao team at the University?
In general, each Wu Zhi Qiao university team shall have 8 to 10 core members. The team coordinator should have certain bridge building experience and leadership skill. The team can seek consultation from relative college or professor. The students are required to form a team and identify the consultation professor. They should also know what kind of administrative support on the project the university will provide. For forming of the team, please refer to the “Wu Zhi Qiao University Team Handbook” and submit the application form to the Foundation for confirmation.

Organization of Volunteers’ Activities at Wu Zhi Qiao

How are volunteers selected?
Volunteers are usually jointly selected by the organizing school team and a representative from the Wu Zhi Qiao. All applicants need to go through an interview and a briefing. The selection criteria are mainly on whether the applicants are passionate and have a strong sense of responsibility. The Foundation encourages the participation of students from different universities. The continuation of a team will also be considered in the selection process. In addition, we also take into account the training of passionate and responsible individuals who may become our future supervisors.
Can volunteers travel for leisure with the donations from the Foundation? Free travel trips?
The Foundation endeavours to subsidize and encourage university students to undertake bridge and other community projects in rural China as a form of real life contribution to the society. The Foundation assesses and approves project proposals and subsidizes the travelling costs for investigations, surveys, home visits, material procurement, site preparation and on-site construction which may include transportation costs, meals, accommodation, insurance and first aid supplies etc. The reference rate for meals is RMB50 per day per person, whilst the reference rate for accommodation is RMB 100 and RMB80 per person per night respectively in the city centre and in town centre. The reference in-kind subsidy to local villagers for staying at their homes is RMB10-20 per person per night. [Reference as of 1 February 2015]

Any personal expenses or costs incurred due to an extension of the trip for leisure will be borne by the individual. The individual will also bear the insurance and safety liability for such extensions.

What are the responsibilities of a WZQ school team pre and post-investigation trips?
School teams need to conduct desktop studies on the site and the potential investigation topics such as the design considerations on different bridge forms, needs assessment methodology etc. In addition, school teams are required to plan for the trip, material procurement and detailed project arrangement. These works may be co-ordinated between different team members through telephone conversation, emails, chat groups or internet meetings.

Prior to any trip, school teams are required to submit a project proposal which includes the trip itinerary, participants and budget for the Foundation’s approval. The schools teams are also required to submit a report after every trip. Feel free to surf through the reports uploaded under the individual project on our website.

Do volunteers only build infrastructure during construction trips? What else do they do?
The completion of a project relies on the concerted effort of all volunteers. Apart from construction, the team is responsible for all sorts of logistics including meals, accommodation, travelling, material procurement, contract negotiation, liaison with contractors and officials and so on.

The team may be divided into several groups including construction group, community group, reporting group, logistics group and so on. Volunteers may be arranged to join different groups during the trip. The number of members required for each group will depend on the specific project. For example, if there is a distance between the kitchen and the bridge site, or the local eating habits are very different to the volunteers, there may be need for a larger logistics group (say 6 people).

How does the Foundation facilitate the setup and continuation of school teams?
University volunteers from Hong Kong and mainland form the core of WZQ projects. To facilitate the continuation of the school teams, annual welcome gatherings and an interflow camp as well as sharing sessions are organized. These activities not only help to promote teamwork amongst the different teams, but are also valuable opportunities to share the vision of Wu Zhi Qiao as well as the project implementation guidelines. During project implementation, the Foundation also provides occasional guidance to the teams. To facilitate the smooth transfer to new members, old and new members will be invited to these activities in which older members will take up to role of reporting and sharing facilitation.

Similar to Item 2 above, the Foundation will only provide subsidies during these activities, all other personal expenses, or costs, safety and insurance liability due to an extension of stay will be borne by the individuals.

Considerations of Building the Bridge and Follow-up Matters

What is the size of the bridge building project? Can the bridge be used for passage of vehicles?
What Wu Zhi Qiao built are footbridges which are public facilities of the village. The design of the bridges is for villagers, students and livestock to cross the river, but not, in principle, for vehicles or motor vehicles.
How does Wu Zhi Qiao explore project sites? What requirements will be considered for a project site? What are the procedures of application, approval and operation for a potential project site?
Besides those bridge sites provided by the central or local government, we also send university team and our staff to rural areas of northwest China to explore potential sites. At the same time, we rely on referrals from other Mainland charitable organization or non-government organizations for location of potential site and information of village.

Wu Zhi Qiao will consider building bridge for the village which meets the following requirements:
1) The village is located in remote poor rural area, the annual per capita income of a villager is around five thousand RMB or below.
2) There is an urgent need to construct a pedestrian bridge. For example, there is only primitive facilities/an unsafe bridge for crossing the river, while the bridge is not intended for passage of vehicles.
3) Technically feasible to support the bridge when local manpower are needed.(?)

Please click here for details about the application, approval and operational procedures of Wu Zhi Qiao project.

Why should Wu Zhi Qiao rely on local materials and apply environmental friendly building concept to build the bridge? Cement and steel or other modern materials are more durable, why don’t let the local villagers have a more durable bridge?
Transportation and fuel costs can be reduced by using local materials to build the bridge. It also makes the bridge integrate into the natural environment, economical and durable. The quality of the cement cum steel bridge in remote rural area is not guaranteed. It will not be convenient for villagers to maintain the bridge themselves and therefore, doesn’t fulfill the concept of sustainability in using the bridge.
I learnt that Wu Zhi Qiao is mainly built by hand and designed by university students, how to ensure its reliability and quality?
The design and construction plan of the students will not only be verified by the professor, but also approved by the Project and Resources Committee of the Foundation. We will study the design carefully in terms of construction feasibility, economic benefits and local environmental factors. We will send manager staff of the Foundation and member of the Project and Resources Committee to perform on-site monitoring to ensure the project can be finished smoothly.

At present, the Project and Resources Committee is formed by members from Hong Kong and Mainland China of different disciplines such as building, engineering, surveying and academics. People with extensive network to local resources are included too.

After the completion of the bridge, how does the foundation follow up the ongoing maintenance and safety issue? Will any staff be assigned to follow up the bridge on a regular basis?
The bridge will become the public facilities of the village on the day of its completion and will be formally handed over to the local authority of the village. The local authority will be responsible for routine maintenance and repair work. During the construction process, the university team will invite local villagers to participate in the project and impart basic techniques to them. The transferred skill can enable villagers to maintain the bridge in future. The Foundation will also keep in touch with the local authority for the latest condition of the bridge.

Funding and Overhead

Where does the funding of the Foundation come from?
The funding of the Foundation fully comes from enthusiastic donors, companies, sponsors, etc. At present, the Foundation does not get any government funding.
How does the Foundation manage the funding? Will the donations be spent mainly on the administrative costs of the Foundation? What is the average cost to build a bridge?
All donations will be used to support the operation and project development of the Wu Zhi Qiao Charitable Foundation, the Foundation’s annual administrative costs are less than 15%.

The scale of a Wu Zhi Qiao is equivalent to a general passenger bridge which construction cost is below a quarter million Yuan and will become the public facilities of the village. Other than the construction costs of the bridges, majority of the donations are used for travel expenses for sending student volunteers to remote rural villages. It is the objective of the Foundation to provide valuable learning opportunities to university students, to let them reach the remote rural areas and understand the villagers’ local culture, their needs and plight. At the same time, through cooperation with students of different backgrounds, our students can help the needy from our country and community.