SOS Children in China
China is the world’s most populous country with more than 1.3 billion inhabitants. An extraordinary economic transformation has turned China into a major world power, bringing improved living standards to millions. However, China’s expanding economy has brought with it increased pollution and problems such as obesity, while rural poverty persists. SOS Children is helping young people find their place in a changing society.
You can help SOS Children support orphaned and abandoned children in China by sponsoring a child:Sponsor a child in China
A booming economy brings the uncertainty of change
China’s success is reflected in low unemployment and a diverse economy providing jobs in services, industry and agriculture. In 2011, China overtook Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy. As the economy grows, people flock to the city, with 47% of the population currently living in urban areas. However, rapid economic change has brought challenges in its wake. Many people struggle to cope with increased prosperity. Nearly a fifth of Beijing’s primary and middle school children suffer from obesity. Mental health problems also remain a concern and China has one of the world’s highest suicide rates. The growth of industry has caused widespread air pollution resulting in respiratory problems in many people.
Children in rural areas are particularly disadvantaged
- Despite legal measures, many children do not receive a basic education. Girls in particular drop out of schooling due to economic pressures on the family.
- Rural areas suffer from poor healthcare. As a result, many children are malnourished and some die from curable conditions such as pneumonia and diarrhoea.
- Child labour levels are amongst the highest in the world, and once again it is those in rural parts who suffer most.
- Around 30 million teenagers under the age of 17 are affected by psychological problems. It is thought that this may be caused by the rapid pace of economic and social change.
Our Work in China
SOS Children provides orphaned children in China with a new mother, a family and a home where they can stay until they are ready for independent life (each family house can give a home to up to 12 children).
We began our work in the country in 1986. We currently care for more than 1,000 children at our ten purpose-built SOS Children's Villages, and a further 292 teenagers at our nine SOS Youth Homes, where young adults live while they complete their college studies or vocational training, and where they are taught the life skills needed for independent living.
We also run SOS Schools, Vocational Training Centres and Family Strengthening Programmes. Family Strengthening Programmes aim to prevent child abandonment and to keep vulnerable families together by providing childcare, counselling, vocational training and medical support. In total, through all of our Villages, Schools, Training Centres and Family Strengthening Programmes we are providing support to over 8,200 people in China.
SOS Children's Village Tianjin (also known as Tientsin) opened in 1987 and was our first Chinese SOS Children’s Village. Located approximately 60 miles south-east of Beijing, the SOS Children’s Village is on the outskirts of Tianjin, in Hedong, and has 16 family houses for 160 children and an SOS Youth Home for older children. It also has an SOS Nursery School for 50 little children from the Village and the neighbourhood. Children from the Tianjin Village attend local schools, and there are excellent medical facilities nearby. We also run a Family Strengthening Programme in Tianjin, which supports 300 vulnerable families in the community.
SOS Children’s Village Yantai is in the eastern province of Shandong. Yantai is an attractive and relatively prosperous coastal town, and the SOS Children's Village with its 16 family houses, two SOS Youth Homes and SOS Nursery School is in the district of Fushan.
The SOS Secondary School in Yantai is the largest SOS School in the world, with over 3,400 pupils. The school is ranked among the best schools in the country, and scholarships are awarded to the poorest children. Over 150 families in Yantai also benefit from the Family Strengthening Programme.
SOS Children's Village Qiqihar opened in 1992. The industrial town of Qiqihar is in Manchuria, in the province of Heilongjiang, northern China. It is an important economic and cultural centre with a population of around 5.5 million. The SOS Children’s Village is on the River Nen in the western part of the town, an area with a well-developed infrastructure with plenty of schools, hospitals and other public services.
As well as the 15 family houses which are home to 120 children, it has a sports area, an SOS Youth Home and an SOS Nursery School. An SOS Vocational Training Centre was opened in 1996 and it offers courses in computer science, office skills, tailoring and industrial arts to around 500 young people, with dormitory facilities for 250.
SOS Children's Village Chengdu is on the outskirts of Chengdu in Sichuan Province in south-central China and was built in 1997. The Village has 15 family houses, an SOS Youth Home and SOS Nursery School, as well as a training centre for SOS mothers and staff.
SOS Children workers from Chengdu also supported the emergency relief programme in Sichuan in May 2008, following the devastating earthquake. We set up a temporary tent school in Mianzhu to ensure that local children continued to receive an education.
SOS Children’s Village Nanchang is in the south-eastern province of Jiangxi. Nanchang is the largest city in the province. The Village is just north of the city, near the Nanchang Forest Park, an extensive nature reserve. It has 12 family houses. The SOS children attend the nearby Nanchang Forest Park School.
Our SOS Children's Village in Kaifeng is in Henan province and is situated in one of the main residential areas of Kaifeng. The village has 14 family houses, an SOS Youth Home and SOS Nursery School, and the children attend local schools. A nearby hospital provides for all medical needs.
SOS Children's Village Urumqi is on the outskirts of the city of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Autonomous Region in north-western China. This region is situated in the very heart of Asia; Urumqi is the farthest city in the world from the sea (about 2,000 miles). As well as the 14 family houses, the Village has an SOS Nursery School for 120 children. The older children attend local schools.
The SOS Children’s Village in Putian is in south-eastern China in the province of Fujian, an area with much poverty. Our Village is situated in a residential area just outside the city centre on a site provided by the local authorities. It is surrounded by lychee groves and a river runs nearby. It has 15 family houses built in the local style, and a community centre as well as an SOS Nursery School for 120 children. There are primary and secondary schools nearby, along with a military hospital.
SOS Children's Village Lhasa is in the capital city of Tibet. The Village, with 17 family houses, an SOS Youth Home and an SOS Nursery School, was opened by the charity in 2000. Before then, there was virtually no provision for the many orphaned children in the city and surrounding areas.
Life in SOS Children's Villages China: Dining in Tianjin
The traffic is steady between the kitchen and the living room and there is a seemingly endless progression of bowls, pots and plates as all children big enough to carry a container without spilling its contents assist their SOS mother in setting the table. There are noodles, stir-fried vegetables, chicken soup and dumplings - today the family will enjoy a Chinese-style weekend feast. Every seat around the table is taken, with the SOS mother and her eight children, as well as 34-year-old Xia, who grew up in this house, who is back for a weekend visit.
The living room of house number 15 at SOS Children’s Village Tianjin is also more cramped than usual because there is a huge musical instrument, a marimba, standing tall in front of the sofa. It is very valuable to 19 year-old Fu Lin, a talented marimba player who will soon travel to Austria as he has been given a scholarship to study music there.
For Xia this house is still home and she likes to drop by every other weekend to visit her SOS mother, 60-year-old Manna. Sometimes Xia brings her 10-year-old son with her. Xia got married when she was 20 and moved out to live with her husband, and they have an apartment in downtown Tianjin. Xia works as a mechanical designer and produces print machines.
Lunch lingers on, but the spring sun shining through the window entices the children to find their jump ropes and balls and run outside. Their mother lets them go to play once they have taken their bowls to the kitchen.
On the staircase leading to the first floor where all the bedrooms are, a gallery of portraits shows the different "generations" of children who have lived in this house. A few pictures of "grandchildren" are there as well, as this mother has worked in the Village for more than 20 years. "I love my job and my children and it makes me proud to see all their pictures", she says.
Yin Zha-Hutong 20#,
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