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AIDS Orphan Camp Opens in Beijing
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This summer is the third time 10-year-old Jia Zhibin has visited Beijing, and this time he says his biggest wish is to go swimming.

Jia, an "AIDS orphan" from an arid village in north China's Shanxi Province, was one of 69 who attended the opening ceremony of a special summer camp in the Great Hall of the People yesterday.

A total of 70 volunteer families in the capital will host the AIDS orphans from the camp, themed "Together under the Sunshine."

"I will help the child fulfil his dream," said Bao Jindu, a Beijinger who will host little Jia for three days .

Jia's father died of AIDS several years ago and his mother was also affected by the fatal disease. Fortunately, he is healthy.

Besides swimming, Bao said he would take the child to an amusement park, explore Beijing Museum of Science and Technology and see a movie if time permits.

The event was co-organized by China National Committee for the Care of Children (CNCCC) and China Foundation for the Prevention and Control of STDs (sexually transmitted disease) and AIDS.

Ranging from ages 8 to 16, the orphans come from 13 counties or cities in eight provinces, organizers said.

The camp aims to raise public awareness about the impact of AIDS on Chinese children as well to reduce discrimination against people living with AIDS, said Christian Voumard, representative of the United Nations Children's Fund, at the ceremony.

"Great progress has been achieved in China during the past two years in terms of AIDS knowledge among the public," Voumard said.

Ling Fengjuan was another Beijing resident who invited an AIDS orphan to his home.

"After living together with Mu Fen from Yunnan for two days last year, we definitely understand how much these orphans need love and care," said Ling, who decided to host the 14-year-old boy again in this year's camp.

Statistics indicate that there are about 10,000 registered children in China who have lost their parents through AIDS, and a further 1,535 affected by the illness. Meanwhile, experts estimate that the actual number of "AIDS orphans" could be as high as 80,000 nationwide.

(China Daily August 10, 2006)

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