On the 1st Feb 2015 Darrah Blackwater and Ann Liang started their grueling four and a half months walk from Zhongshan to Beijing, over 2200 km on foot to raise awareness for charity.

Ann & Darrah at a Charity EventAnn is supporting the “Sunshine is beside You Project”, which she co-founded and which helps disabled people in and around Zhongshan.

Darrah is supportingNew Day Foster Homes”, which alleviates the pain, and suffering of Chinese orphans born with physical handicaps by providing for their every physical, mental and spiritual need, they give these children a future and a hope while they wait for their very own loving family.

On the first day of the walk Yan Jolley of HGR Technology supported Darrah and Ann and walked with them for the whole day from Zhongshan to Dongshen approx. 30km. We are very proud of these two strong women and support their brave efforts. Yan remembers how hard she found it to walk the next day after just walking 30km on the first day, so how these two brave women managed four and half months was amazing and inspirational.Day 1 of the Charity Walk

Darrah and Ann arrived back safely in Zhongshan to a huge welcome from family and friends. On the 28th June 2015 they held the huge annual “Sunshine is Beside You” Charity Party.

This year HGR Technology’s Studio Manager Phil Behan brought his team of photographers to this event and captured some professional photographs, which really caught the essences of what this event was about.


Sunshine is Beside You Charity 2015

During the “Sunshine is Beside You” Charity Party many items were auctioned. One of the items was a beautiful picture of a tree; Yan was so inspired by Darrah’s story about the picture of the “Money Tree” that she started bidding and wasn’t about to give up. After many strategic bids on Yan’s part she won the auction to a crowd of applause.

Ann Liang at the Sunshine is beside you charity 2015

Yan is proud of her part in Darrah and Ann’s walk and proud of her “Money Tree”, she has placed the picture with pride above her desk in the HGR Technology’s offices and tells everyone who wants to listen the story of the “Money Tree” and of course her strategic bidding.

We here at HGR Technology believe in supporting local community initiatives and we are very pleased to offer our services to help both Charities. “The Sunshine is Beside You” and “New Day Foster Homes”. The total raised that night by the “Sunshine is Beside You” Charity was a grand total of 363,971 rmb.

The “Money Tree” picture by Darrah Blackwater

This picture was taken in mid-February, two weeks into our charity walk from Zhongshan to Beijing. These farmers were selling their crops across the street from a Buddhist temple in the Guangdong province. On this day, our friends John from America and his wife Lianna from Zhongshan joined Ann and me. The markets were all very busy at this time as people prepared for the Chinese New Year festival.

Yan Jolley & Paul Jolley with Darrah Blackwater at the Sunshine is beside you charity 2015 - The Money TreeWhen I look at this picture, I see the China that I always imagined. China is a quickly developing country populated by some ambitious and brilliant people. And yet there is still a large population of people who earn a humble living by selling the crops that they spend so much of their life cultivating.  Surely this is a hard life to lead, and I often found myself wondering about the thoughts of the farmers as we walked through the countryside.  I thought of how I might feel to be the person tending the strawberries, lettuce, rapeseed, or rice. Would I be satisfied? Would I wish my life were different? Would I feel trapped? Could I be happy with my life, or simply tolerant of it?

I might never be able to answer these questions, so I will continue to look at these mysterious farmers in wonder of their fears, loves, hopes, dreams, and ideas about the world.

Like the people who gather under it, the tree tolerates the chill and pollution of Southern China in February. Sometimes it has ample company and purpose as the farmers dwell in its shade or doze against its sturdy trunk. Other times, it stands alone in a field as life rushes by. On busy market days it may seem as if the tree itself is producing the fruit of 1 RMB notes that drop down upon the farmers throughout the morning. Quietly and patiently it provides for the farmers, offering resources more valuable than money: air, shade, and comfort.

This  scene under the “money tree” shows one of the many ways that the agricultural people of China connect to the land, living their lives as quietly and peacefully as a shade tree.


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