Shanghai Builds New Home for Orphans, Disabled

To orphans and disabled children in Shanghai's Children's Welfare Institute, the best present they could have hoped for from International Children's Day was probably not chocolates or toys, but a new, modern home. This has been achieved thanks to efforts from the local government and the public.

After 17 months of construction, the main building for the new Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute was completed Friday. The first children are expected to move into their new home by the end of September.

The children's increasing needs outgrew the existing old facilities, so the government started building new ones last December.

The new institute covers 72,000 square metres, with the buildings covering 26,000 square metres. Green areas account for 60 per cent of the total space.

"We have about 600 children in the old institute and another 340 kids with foster families. The new one can provide 1,000 beds," said Zhang Shuping, director of the institute.

Located in the city's Minhang District, the new institute is the largest one in China. An initial investment of over 100 million yuan (US$12 million) was spent on the project, said officials from the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs.

The municipal government injected 58 million yuan (US$7 million). The other money was either raised by the city's Charity Foundation or from public donations.

Officials said that several million more yuan will also be needed to purchase equipment and facilities.

The institute has all the advanced facilities needed for a child's education, health and recreation. It will also provide care, special education, rehabilitation and medical services to disabled children both at the institute and from outside families. Institute staff hope the new home will develop into a research and education centre for disabled children from home and abroad.

The design and construction of the new institute has taken the needs of children as its guiding spirit. It has a warm family atmosphere and special facilities for disabled children.

The new institute is the largest welfare project undertaken by the city, said officials from Shanghai's welfare affairs office.

(China Daily 06/02/2001)

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