Inspirational Woman Interview: Ruth Jeng
Ruth Jeng is the Founder of The Peach Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission of giving children from the poorest parts of China opportunities to complete a college education. Previously, Ruth worked at various Fortune 500 companies before starting her own real estate investment company in the early 90s. Her business focused on apartments and hotel resorts. After retiring in 1998, Ruth devoted herself fully on projects that improved children’s education in disadvantaged regions of China. She is also a volunteer at the Bay Area Suicide Prevention Center. Ruth holds a B.A. in English Literature from Fu Jen Catholic University and a MBA from Golden Gate University.
What is your background?
Ruth Jeng: Got a MBA from Golden University. I worked at various Fortune 500 companies before starting my own real estate investment company in the early 90’s. My business included apartments and hotel resorts. I was retired in 1998. I started as a volunteer at the Bay Area Suicide Prevention Center, later in 2001 I devoted myself fully on project that improved children’s education in disadvantaged regions of China.
You are the Founder and CEO at The Peach Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission of giving children from the poorest parts of China opportunities to complete a college education. What inspired you to found The Peach Foundation, and what has its impact been so far?
Ruth Jeng: The inspiration comes from my misery seeing people suffer and I feel suffered too. In order to eliminate my suffering, I start to roll up my sleeves and do something.
We have helped more than 8000 children since inception. Out of 8000 children, 2000 have graduated from colleges and working in many fields, such as teachers, doctors, nurses, government employees, etc. Now they can help their aging parents, help the children of their uneducated sibling’s children to go to schools. Every child carry burden of at least 20 members of family household. In other words, every Peach child is expected to help his/her family of 20 members. Now with the success of this child, his/her family have hope.
What are some of the main barriers to education access unique to girls in Yunnan, China?
Ruth Jeng: In a family, girls are considered other people’s properties because girls will be married off, so the parents do not want to invest in girls. If there are girls and boys in the family, parents will send the boys to schools first, if any money left, then, girls. Many times, parents will force the girls to work to support the boys to go to schools.
How did you first become passionate about improving access to education in China, and what motivates you to continue advocating for education every day?
Ruth Jeng: I feel education is the most important thing a person can get, it is as important as air and water. Without education, this person will never have a chance in the society unless this society is in the Amazon jungle.
What motivated me? The relief from the children, the smile from the children, I have solved their school problems, now they can go to school. This accomplishment has eliminated my suffering and motivates to do more for more children.
Can you tell us more about The Peach Foundation’s Financial Aid and Micro lending programs, and how they have contributed to students’ wellbeing?
Ruth Jeng: Financial aid is to help the kids to pay for tuition.
We have two types of loans:
A: small loan, to help kids buy food to eat when in the school.
B: college loan is to help kids going to colleges as we stop financial aids when they enter colleges.
Food is very important to substantiate kids staying in the schools. Kids can ask the school to delay tuition payment, but kids can’t ask the stomach to delay food.
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
Ruth Jeng: Mother Teresa.