Caring for ‘angels with broken wings’
“Every time I walked into the welfare house, some kids would fly into my arms like happy larks, making me forget all about the unhappy moments in my work and life,” said Jiang Haisong, a “volunteer dad” at the Yancheng Welfare Center in east China’s Jiangsu province.
“Visiting the welfare facility is not what we give the kids, but actually what the kids give us – happiness,” Jiang said.
May 15 was the 26th National Day for Helping the Disabled, and this year’s campaign had a theme of “caring for orphaned and disabled children and making our world bask in love”.
All orphaned and physically or mentally handicapped children are angels with broken wings and they need more attention and care from society. This year, Chinese cities have taken various measures to help these children in need.
Campaigns across nation
According to a spokesperson for the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, the National Day for Helping the Disabled has evolved into a campaign that lasts a whole week or month instead of just one day.
This month, officials from Henan province visited children under treatment and rehabilitation training as well as hard-working medical workers at a local rehabilitation center for children with cerebral palsy. Also, leaders of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation and the Beijing municipal government paid a visit to the Beijing Children's Welfare Institute.
In nearby Tianjin, an art festival for special children was launched, while in Shanghai an event to inject hope into disabled youngsters was held, together with a performance by disabled artists – “Sunshine, Spring and Dream”.
In Zhejiang, a lottery-sponsored welfare program for caring for disabled children as well as a program to help disabled people was kicked off, and in Shandong volunteers called for more patience with the disabled.
Fujian held an exhibition of calligraphy and paintings by disabled persons from the province and its cross-Straits neighbor Taiwan, along with a launch ceremony for an educational program for visually impaired children. Volunteers in Chongqing picked up orphaned and disabled children in their cars and showed them around the city.
From 2011 to 2015, the central government allocated special funds for emergency treatment and rehabilitation programs for disabled children. So far, the programs have covered disabled children in the country’s urban and rural low-income families.
In May 2004, the Ministry of Civil Affairs launched the Tomorrow Plan, which makes use of funds raised through welfare lotteries to carry out surgeries and rehabilitation training for disabled orphans. Thanks to the plan, over 60,000 children had undergone surgery and more than 20,000 had received rehabilitation training by 2014, of whom 18,000 were adopted by domestic and foreign families after recovery.
During the 12th Five-Year Plan, the central government increased spending and services such as surgeries, rehabilitation training and auxiliary support devices to approximately 400,000 poverty-stricken children suffering from hearing, mental and physical disabilities including autism. Some provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have set up a rehabilitation assistance system for disabled children, while the enrollment rate of disabled school-age children has been rising year by year.
“The period from zero to six years old is key to children’s development, and timely intervention may help improve the quality of life for disabled children and significantly ease the burden on their families,” said an official with the Chengdu Disabled Persons’ Federation. Last year, the federation worked out measures for rehabilitation assistance for the city’s disabled children.
China’s State Council has rolled out a series of policies on helping disabled people and children in need, and their implementation will gradually help resolve problems disabled orphans meet in medical care, rehabilitation, education and social security.
Love can make the change
Hu Yanping, the boss of a Changchun, Jilin province-based restaurant that hires disabled people as employees, has adopted dozens of orphaned and disabled children over the past more than 20 years. “I always believe that love is able to change everything.”
At the newborn care center of the Nanjing Children's Welfare Institute, there are some special nurses – medical workers who have been hired by private charity organizations to take care of zero to 14 years old children who have an illness or need rehabilitation after surgery.
Zhou Jian, deputy head of the welfare house, said the facility can only offer basic services and such private charity organizations help it better orient services and even make improvements in certain areas.
In the past 13 years, Zhangying village, Licha town of Jiaozhou city in Shandong province has been home to a total of 399 disabled children that were abandoned by their biological parents. They have been cared for by 175 women in the village. After certain approval procedures, qualified foster families can get a monthly subsidy of 1,300 yuan.