Enticed by the opportunity to teach English in China, the group, all under the age of 25, entrusted Owen Wang, an agent claiming to represent Sanda Youth International.
Before leaving South Africa the students were given student visas and told their work Visas will be issued upon arrival. With their contracts signed and sealed, the youngsters got a one way ticket to China to begin their teaching jobs.
Once in China, Wang requested everyone’s passports to enable him to finalize their work permits. Unfortunately, Wong never returned with their passports, leaving the youngsters stranded with incomplete documents, unable to work and without a means to return home to South Africa.
Owen is under criminal investigation and has been detained by Chinese authorities. Many of teachers have unknowingly been working in the country illegally.
“The schools never enquired about their working visas and never received them from Owen Wang. Instead our children were paid half their agreed upon salaries and told to hide from the police when they were investigated” – says Liza Bold, who’s 21 year old daughter, Lee-Ann, is among the detainees.
Lorraine Theron is the mother of one of the teachers and said she is worried sick about the well-being of her 19-year-old daughter, Timoné, who is stuck in a foreign country with no means whatsoever to return home.
“It all happened so fast. She was called to an interview in Krugersdorp and then Roodepoort. Then she had to submit a video showing how she would teach a class and when she was accepted she was immediately provided with a one-way ticket to China. I didn’t even have the chance to throw her a going-away party.” – says Lorraine Theron
The youngsters are currently required to stay in the confines of their university dormitory, and are forced to survive on approximately R45 a day, enough to purchase a single plate of food and water, many of them have become ill, with no means of getting medication.
It has been made clear to the parents that the teachers will not be assisted by the South African government.
Hoping to raise funds to purchase food and other basic essentials, and in the long run, purchase flight tickets to fly the children back home, a crowdfunding campaign has been created on BackaBuddy.
The campaign has thus far raised R 26 022.62 with contributions from 42 donors.
“We have no idea when they will be coming home. Yesterday they were told it would still take a month, but today they were told they would get their passports next week. So we take it day to day…” – says Liza Bold
Liza would like to encourage South Africans living in China to visit the teachers and offer them some morale support during this difficult time.
“It would be great if someone could go and visit the kids and just let them know that, apart from their parents, there are other people out there that care for them too…” – says Liza
If you would like to support the crowdfunding campaign please do so here.