To help orphans in northern Anhui Province who have lost parents to
AIDS , the local civil affairs department and
Save the Children UK jointly initiated a project called Small
Family Unit. Volunteers were invited from local villages to become
the orphans' new mothers and fathers.
In the village of Daluzhai in Fuyang, Lu Yue and his wife live
with their four new children in a new house built by the project in
June. Two of their own children have attended universities, and a
third is in a local boarding senior middle school.
The four children, two boys and two girls, were all orphaned by
AIDS. Previously, they lived with their grandparents or other
relatives, under economic strained.
Lu said the four children, all in primary school, were unruly
and uncooperative when they came to their new home but they have
now settled in.
Receiving monthly subsidies of 200 yuan (US$25) till they reach
adulthood, each of the children will eventually regain the land
their parents had.
These children seem to be stepping out of the hell wreaked on
them by AIDS, and such is the mission of Save the Children UK,
which initiated its China program recently in Hefei, Anhui's
Children living in AIDS-affected communities are usually
ostracized and discriminated against.
One example is Xiao Jie, 10, a boy in Fuyang who collected
rubbish to earn the money to buy a pen and stationery. His father
died of AIDS, his mother left, and he and his younger sister live
with his sick grandmother in a dilapidated house.
It is their emotional health and well-being that consist an
absolute priority, said Andy West, a consultant for Save the
Children's China program.
Save the Children UK has established 40 activity centers across
China providing a place for children to grow up safely and as
happily as can be. The centers are open to all children from all
walks of life, but the emphasis is on children from vulnerable
groups, such as migrant families, the disabled and those affected
One center opened recently in Duanzhai village in Fuyang. Though
the facilities may look shabby, they are popular with local
children who come at weekends to read books, watch cartoons or
Adjacent to the center is a free AIDS clinic. The AIDS epidemic
in Fuyang in the early 1990s left many children orphaned.
In the village, 47 people from 26 families are now living with
AIDS, each one generally with at least three children.
Children at the center seem accustomed to the presence of the
AIDS patients, even welcoming those children affected or orphaned
However, children orphaned by AIDS are certainly not the only
children who feel depressed. Evidence of physical and psychological
abuse, of negligence too often concealed, and of general social
obliviousness are all too common, according to the United Nations
Secretary-General's Study on Violence Against Children, presented
recently to the General Assembly.
The effects of the abuse can be far-reaching. When Xiao Juan
moved with her parents to Hefei from her rural hometown, she
perceived a barrier between her and her new classmates.
She often cried when her father sent her to school since other
students ridiculed her rural accent. Though keen to participate in
the chorus and dancing activities organized at school, she thought
neither the teachers nor other students paid attention to her. "Is
it all because I'm a child from a village that I have to suffer all
this bad treatment?" she asked.
Funded by Save the Children UK, a community children's club
opened in Hefei in 2002 where migrant and disabled children can
play together and get along with other urban children.
Xiao Juan, who when joining the club two years ago as a timid
child who hid in the corner and read books, has since become a
"I feel more self-confident," she said. "During the activities,
nobody laughs at me. They give me applause and encouragement."
(China Daily November 20, 2006)