Left-behind children feel loved at children’s care center
Reporter：Luo Laiming and Chen Ziqi
[Photo: from VCG]
Children's health isn't just important to individual families, it's also vital for the future economic development of the country. Yet in recent years, with China's unprecedented urbanization and industrialization, numerous children in rural areas have been left behind while their parents migrate to the new mega cities to look for employment opportunities.
At first sight it might seem this is good for the children, who will then enjoy better material support. However, growing up in an incomplete family environment has been found to be causing psychological and behavioral disorders.
Jiuhe village is in Yulong county, southwest China's Yunnan province. It's categorized as a mountainous area, and is well known for the acute shortage of water supply there. Consequently, a third of its nearly 30,000 people, mainly the younger and middle-aged faction, work outside the region.
This means that most of the children in the area are raised by either one parent, their grandparents or even relatives. It has had a negative impact on these children's development, resulting in psychological issues and poor academic performance. Jing Canchun is a government official in Jiuhe village.
"Most of the adults in our village are working in other cities, so we have a lot of so called 'left-behind' children in our community raised by their grandparents,” Jing Canchun said, “Since these senior elders hardly received an education themselves, they can't help the children with their homework and also may not pay enough attention to children's psychological health."
Children’s Happy House was established by the All Women's Federation and the Air Force of the CPLA. [photo: from China Plus]
To help children grow up healthily and learn about life outside school, the All China Women's Federation and the Air Force of the CPLA joined together in 2014 to launch a joint non-profit program, the Children's Happy House.
A children's care center was set up in Jiuhe village and named after the program, and it provides day care services, extracurricular activities and psychological counseling, as well as popularizing the concept of modern education and improving the home and neighboring environment.
Certain documents are required to be filled in and submitted before children are accepted by the center, including a confirmation letter signed by the children's legal guardians and a copy of their insurance.
He Hongyun is president of the All China Women's Federation in Yulong county. She was involved in the preparations to set up the center and recalls the obstacles they had to get over during the process.
"We are very grateful that the Air force of the CPLA has provided us with the hardware facilities, but we still needed assistance from the local government, regarding management and labor resources. On the other hand, we tried our best to contact as many diverse institutions as we could to get a sustainable supply of volunteers. It was also a problem convincing parents to buy insurance for their children,” said He Hongyun.
Children were having fun and playing games together in the Children's Happy House. [photo: from China Plus]
The local government actively supported the Children Happy House program by finding a suitable site and the necessary officials to take care of the center. Jing Canchun explains how the center works.
"Officials from our villages take responsibility opening and closing the center each day. We have made schedules; so on weekdays there will be someone in the center to make sure children finish their homework in a quiet environment and provide help if it's needed. On weekends and holidays, retired teachers from our neighborhood or volunteers take turns and also give classes."
[Photo: from VCG]
An increasing number of caring volunteers from all walks of life now use their spare time to visit the Children's Happy House. Among them are teachers, college students and psychological professionals.
They have enriched the life of left-behind children, once considered lonely and lacking proper attention from their families, with colorful and interesting activities. Thanks to them, some children who were at first afraid of communicating with others, lacked social skills and even drifted into delinquency have been transformed, becoming happier, more optimistic and more secure. He Hongyun explains how volunteers can brighten up a child's life.
"Students from the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics regularly come to our center in their summer holidays. They play games with our children and teach them how to make paper cuts and handicrafts, and also teach them things that they may not learn from our local teachers. Our children always have a great time whenever college students are around."
A toddler was playing toys in the Children’s Happy House. [photo: from China Plus]
Yang Zixian is one of these so-called left-behind children in Jiuhe village. She enjoys spending time in the Children's Happy House at weekends and school holidays.
"I like coming here because there are many interesting books and I can play with toys with other children of my age. I can also learn a lot from volunteers who teach us how to draw, play piano and football,” Yang Zixian said, “Before this center was founded, I could only stay at home and read what I had at hand, and I didn't have any materials or tools for making handicrafts."
Some local women can't go to other cities to work with their husbands either because of their health or educational background, so they stay in the village and take care of their children and farmland. These women are encouraged to attend skilled trades training classes provided by the local government. They are benefiting from the Children's Happy House program as well, as they have more free time with their children being looked after by the center.
"Our government emphasizes the importance of the younger generation's education, as well as equipping adults with knowledge and modern technology that's common in bigger cities," said Jing Canchun.
It seems that children are running towards a bright future. [Photo: from VCG]
With all the support from various sectors, it's been forecast that more children in rural areas will get what they need during their childhood, both the education to develop skills and the materials for daily life. He Hongyun says she simply hopes one day when these children grow up and remember their childhood, they won't feel any regrets or that something was missing from their lives.