Hefei Childrens Welfare Orphanage
Hefei, Anhui Province, China

by Mrs. Yannie Fan
(Edited by Mary Lynn Hodshire)

Hefei Children's Welfare Orphanage
July 12, 2000
Mrs. Yannie FanThe Hefei Orphanage is located in a suburb about 20 miles west of downtown Hefei. The Hefei Social Welfare Institute occupies about half of a city block. A senior citizen apartment complex and the orphanage complex are side by side. The huge entrances to the two facilities are shaded by a row of tall pine trees. The name of the orphanage appears in English on a large wall about 15 feet long and 8 feet high. The wall is dark red marble carved with gold colored letters that spell out "Hefei Children's Welfare Orphanage." Two huge pillars frame an open porch in front of a reception area. A statue of a Mother and Children faces the walkway into the orphanage. The statue and base are white and green plants and red flowers circle the base.
Ms. Zhang is the director of the Hefei Children's Welfare Orphanage. She is waiting for us at her office in the rehabilitation building. Ms. Zhang was raised in the orphanage and was promoted to director after several years as a caregiver at the orphanage. Because of her unique background and her contributions in the field of welfare affairs, Ms. Zhang was named as a National Model Worker in the 1990's and has made many presentations to people from all walks of life. In 1996 Ms. Zhang went to the United States to visit families with children adopted from Hefei. With all of her honors and contacts, Ms. Zhang has been building up a social network for promoting understanding and support for the Hefei Social Welfare Institute. The Children's Welfare Orphanage is shown as a model of social welfare, not only to Chinese visitors but foreign visitors as well.
Ms. Zhang is in her fifties. She speaks with a local Hefei dialect that makes me feel at home. She is happy to see all of the pictures that I brought to the orphanage. The pictures of Hefei children with their adoptive families bring back fond memories and she is happy to see how well the children are fareing. As she goes over the names of the children in the pictures, she mentions that the orphanage follows the Handbook of Chinese Surnames in naming the children. At one point she spots a mistake in one of the children's names and changes it with her pen. She is surprised to see a letter that a child from America has written to her mother in China and, as she reads the translation, she asks how old the child is. When she hears that the little girl is five years old, she asks herself, "can our children here write such a letter at this age?"
As we are speaking, two reporters from a nationwide magazine arrive and are sent to the office of the Party Branch Secretary. Ms. Zhang explains that they divide administrative affairs between her office, two vice directors and the party branch secretary. Mr. Zhao, one of the vice-directors, is waiting for a group of adoptive parents to come for a visit after receiving their babies two days before.

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