From tomorrow until August 17, 86 families in Beijing will temporarily adopt 86 orphans of AIDS victims from around China, in a bid to discourage discrimination and provide the orphans with warmth and compassion.
The activity, called the "Second Summer Camp for Orphans of AIDS Victims," is being jointly launched by the China Youth Concern Committee and the Beijing Huaxia Charity Foundation, a non-government organization.
"After we informed the public about choosing families that are willing to live with AIDS orphans for two days, we received more than 270 applications, which was a real surprise," Li Guoqiang, a CYCC official, said.
The 86 volunteer families cover a wide range of social strata, from movie stars to high-ranking officials, from retirees to on-the-job teachers, from entrepreneurs to army soldiers. "They are all wealthy and warm-hearted enough to accept these children," Li said. "They reveal an encouraging strength in society to take care of AIDS orphans."
An estimated 76,000 children in China have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS, with at least one parent dying, according to figures from the China disease control center. Experts said that the number is expected to grow to 260,000 by 2010.
The disease touches every aspect of children's lives, not just their health.
Experts said these kids suffer from social bias against HIV victims, some have been kicked out of schools or turned away even from orphanages.
"The emotional toll alone can be devastating as children suffer from isolation, loss of self-esteem and depression," Christian Voumard, UNICEF's China representative, told a seminar recently.
But the situation has been improving.
Not only have Chinese leaders and high-ranking officials shaken hands with HIV/AIDS patients and eaten meals with them in front of news cameras, many folk activities have also revealed burgeoning efforts to undermine the disease's bad public image.
(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2005)