Chinese New Year and China's orphans

As Chinese people all over the world celebrate Chinese New Year on 14 February, 2010, welcoming in the Year of the Tiger, for millions of orphaned and abandoned children in China there will be little or no positive difference to their harsh, daily struggle for survival. About 85 percent of China's orphans in state care die before reaching adulthood. From this we can estimate that millions of orphans in China have died prematurely over the years, due to lack of proper care and love.

But during the Chinese New Year period, the Chinese children and young adults under the care of British Christian charity, International China Concern (ICC) will be given special food and events for them to enjoy. ICC started in 1993 when its founder, David Gotts, encountered firsthand the appalling conditions that exist in so many of China's state orphanages. Because of their disabilities many of the children were incontinent and were tied onto potty chairs placed over open sewers. They were left in this condition for up to fourteen hours each day, with no form of stimulation and no interaction with others. David says, "There was no life in their eyes at all. You just got the sense that though the bodies were still alive, somehow their spirits had already died."

David cried out to the Lord and asked, ‘Is this really how you want this situation to be? I don’t believe you created the lives of these children for them to experience this kind of pain and death. There has to be some hope for them. Why isn’t there somebody here to make a difference?’ God replied, ‘You’re here. I’ve shown this to you. You can make a difference.’ Since then David has made a difference, setting up ICC. He continues to help China’s orphaned and abandoned children through ICC’s work.

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. It is the time when food, family and fireworks abound. The majority of children and young adults in ICC’s care do not have family, and so this is often an emotionally hard time for many of them, especially those that remember their families. In Hengyang, Hunan province, ICC runs a project caring for children and young adults, all their children and young adults are now organised in family groups and ICC’s emphasis is on making sure they feel loved and secure in their care groups. Roommates and carers are encouraged to be family together through relationship and mutual care. Special food is prepared for the week of Chinese New Year by the cooks and carers. The children, young people and staff enjoy the special treats of Chinese New Year together.

In ICC’s Moving On project, in Changsha, which helps older disabled orphans to become more self-reliant and integrated with society, the young people and their carers usually celebrate Chinese New Year together. Days before Chinese New Year, the carers and young people in the Moving On project are busy preparing a big meal for New Year’s eve (which traditionally is the time when Chinese families celebrate the New Year by having a large meal together). They go out shopping, decorate their homes and prepare different kinds of food. On Chinese New Year’s eve, all the young people and carers gather together to enjoy the meal, then watch China’s national New Year celebration on television. It’s a family occasion. During the New Year period, the ICC carers will conduct a series of activities with the young people in their care, including making dumplings, teaching them how to make Chinese traditional food, having a singing competition and playing games.

ICC is like a lifeboat in a sea of dying orphans. With increased resources, ICC could rescue many more children from an early death. ICC invites you to consider supporting their lifesaving work by sponsoring a child or making a donation. It costs 25 pounds monthly to sponsor a child with ICC.

In December ICC will be holding a charity concert to raise funds for its work. This ICC Charity Concert will be on Friday, 10 December 2010, at the Emmanuel Centre in London, at 9-23 Marsham Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3DW, at 7.30 pm. Tickets are 15 pounds each.

Performing at this concert will be internationally renowned violinist, Ning Kam, and pianist, Carole Presland. Ning Kam has given many concerts in Europe, Singapore, Canada and the United States.

Ning Kam is a born again Christian. The late Yehudi Menuhin, who is commonly considered one of the twentieth century's greatest violinists, has said, "Ning's beautiful playing testifies to her brilliance, lovely sound and intelligence."

Ning Kam’s performance as a violinist has been described as ‘electrifying… gutsy and communicative’ by The Times newspaper. The Daily Telegraph has described Ning as a violinist with "much flair plus a totally confident stage presence and an absolute command of the music".

Carole Presland was a Senior Piano Tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music. She has performed throughout Europe as well as in the Far East, Africa and the United States. In the UK she has performed at major venues including the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and St. John’s Smith Square.

On the web: