Children's homes give compassionate care to Wenxi kids
Kids play games with their instructor at a children's home in Wenxi county. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
The introduction of a series of special community children's homes has brought joy, solace, security and compassion to hundreds of left-behind children in the care of their grandparents, as their own parents leave to find work outside Wenxi county in North China's Shanxi province.
Top officials involved in the program say it has proved effective in helping to ensure the kids have healthy and normal childhood and develop in a healthy manner.
"Children in Wenxi county each have three homes – their own home, his or her school and the community children's home," said Zhang Lidan, director of the civil affairs bureau of Wenxi county.
Recently, at an activity room in one of the community children's homes in the county, a group of kids began happily playing with their instructor Zheng Rong.
Zheng, 41, who has been a primary school teacher for 11 years, has been a children's instructor in the community children's home for eight years.
Through years of interaction with children, she realized that except for families with special difficulties, most local children didn't lack materials, but they lacked spiritual care and guidance from their parents.
In her eyes, the significance of community children's home is to give the kids as much love as possible in the absence of family care.
In addition to regular psychological counseling and guidance, the children's home undertakes a variety of themed activities to help children develop good habits and it also conducts special projects for children with disabilities, to help them better adapt to society.
Zheng said that these activities protect the children's safety and develop their nature, making them livelier. Although the children's instructors can't take care of kids on behalf of their parents, they can ensure that these children are not isolated and enjoy healthy spiritual growth.
Zheng Rong (left) teaches at a community children's home in Wenxi county. [Photo by Peng Ke'er/China Daily]
According to Zhang Ajian, deputy head of Wenxi county, the county has more than 18,600 children left behind in rural areas, as their parents go outside to find work. These children usually lack a sense of security and family education, although their grandparents guarantee them basic subsistence.
"The children's home plays a big role in meeting the needs of distressed children in this regard," Zhang added.
In 2010, Wenxi set up the first batch of pilot villages for children's homes and later in 2014, the county was recognized by the Ministry of Civil Affairs as a pilot county for the construction of a moderate and inclusive child welfare system.
The construction of the children's homes has been sponsored by the Department of Children's Welfare at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund and the China Philanthropy Research Institute. They are operated by the county's civil affairs bureau and charity federation.
To date, 60 children's homes have been established across the county. The instructors there are responsible for managing and serving children in the region and neighboring villages, visiting the families of children with disabilities, promoting policies on child injury protection and prevention, and assisting in providing guardianship guidance, returning the kids to school, household registrations and in other care services.
There are now 60 children's instructors at the children's homes, some of whom are teachers and others are self-employed businesspeople. Although everyone has their own work, they devote all their leisure time to the kids that attend and are committed to safeguarding their healthy growth.
Peng Ke'er contributed to this story.