A look into EFA's primary beneficiaries.


Panicking. Anxious. Losing hope. Looking everywhere for mom and dad, but instead seeing a crowd of blank faces.

Every child who gets lost in an amusement park feels this way. Most of us have either been that child ourselves or seen it happen. It's a unbearable experience.

While that feeling of loss when separated from a parent just for a few minutes is already overwhelming, left-behind children (LBCs) experience that loss every day.

Left-behind children are categorized as children who's parents have died, divorced, or are forced to work as migrant workers while being separated from their children for more than 12 months at a time.

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A rural school in Jiangxi, China where over 50% of children are considered left-behind.

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An EFA volunteer playing games with the children.

Due to prolonged distance away from their parents, LBCs suffer from severe developmental and emotional challenges. The list includes but is not limited to...

For LBCs, life gives them no opportunities to change their circumstances. As adults, they lack hireable skills and are constantly held back by mental challenges from their childhoods that stem from generations of trauma incurred in the poverty cycle. From the moment they were born, they were destined to be trapped in that amusement park, constantly searching for safety and belonging in the world.

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An EFA volunteer, Leo, buying candy for a LBC.

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A LBC studying in a partner school in Jiangxi.

Later Life

If left unchecked, left-behind children become trapped in the poverty cycle. Since they lack hireable skills and experience severe mental health challenges through adulthood, their unstable and insufficient income confines them from ever leaving their rural village. After marrying another and having children, they will almost certainly repeat the cycle of neglectful parenting that they experienced.

Throughout their life, left-behind children never possess any agency to change their life circumstances. They have no money, power, or social standing. They lack any opportunity to showcase their talents or skills. Few government officials will ever recognize them as individuals that are worth changing policies over.

The Scale

While parentless children are not unheard of by any means, LBCs define the culture in rural areas around the world. As of 2018, 1 in 5 children (69 million) were LBCs just in China alone. There are hundreds of millions more around the world.

Mistreatment of LBCs plant the seeds for the poverty cycle to trap generations in social situations that are impossible to escape from. Entire families are likened to helpless children who have been left behind by the rest of society.