Hunan Province - Page 3 -
Li, another vice director of the Yueyang City Social Welfare House took
me to his institution after sightseeing at the historical Yueyang Temple.
It was 9:30 in the morning. The Social Welfare Department was a two-story
building separated from the entire House with metal gates, which were
divided by two big red pillars. Between the pillars were big red Chinese
characters "Children's Department" written on a light yellow wall styled
like the Great Wall, which gave the air of safety and serenity. A huge
pine tree taller than the wall was growing in the middle of the courtyard.
Stepping past the gate, the building was shaped like a big rectangle composed
with rows of rooms built in three directions and circling the squared
inner courtyard. This was styled after traditional architecture in Yueyang,
a city rich in history and culture. Diametrically across the gate was
a big conference hall.
Mr. Chang, two vice-directors, Ms. Chen and a women assistant dressed
in white gowns and of the children's department had a meeting with me
at the hall on the first floor. The meeting was long and formal, discussing
the concerns from each side about the international adoption affairs.
Mr. Chang reconfirmed what he told me at our short meeting last night
at my hotel about telephone instructions they received yesterday afternoon
from the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Beijing: No pictures were to be
taken nor any video shots.
Soldier Chen, Ms. Chen and her assistant then took me on a tour visiting
children in their small rooms. We went upstairs first and the first room
we entered had six cribs arranged in an L-shape and against the wall on
the right side and underneath the window opposite the door. Two caregivers
were each holding babies and sitting in the middle of the room. It had
been the first time for me to see a label card attached to each crib's
rails. On the card was written the child's name, birth date, and the date
the baby was sent to the House. The youngest child in this room was born
on May 23rd, 2000. It was after feeding time, all the children were laying
in their cribs quietly and all dressed with several layers of clothes
and wearing cotton diapers. The crib was covered with a cotton mattress,
not like the institutions in Fujian or Guangdong where the cribs were
covered by bamboo or straw mats. On top of the mattress a thick cotton
absorbent pad was laid in the middle of the crib for protecting the mattress
from getting wet. The room was diffused with the smell of young babies
and diapers. The window was closed and the room was dim. Everything was
clean, tight and in order.
We walked into two other rooms along the corridor, which was circling
and open to the inner courtyard. All the rooms had the same setting as
the first one. Every room was quiet. I stopped at the double doors of
a big room where a young caregiver or a nurse dressed in a white gown,
similar to Ms. Chen and her assistant, was helping a baby stretch her
legs on a big mat. Four other children were lying next to her. They all
seemed about 6 to 8 months old. The room looked like a rehabilitation
hall with some equipment in. The room was right above the conference hall.
Ten minutes later we went downstairs to the conference hall. I took a
glimpse of the last room at the end of the corridor, the wooden sign on
top of the door frame read ROOM 12.
Mr. Chang was waiting for us there. We sat down and exchanged some further
opinions of policy about their House being open to visits from foreign
families. Mr. Chang said that all the families that adopted children from
Yueyang City Social Welfare House would be warm-heartedly welcome to visit.
For other families interested in this House, they were welcome to visit
if they had permission from certain authorities.
A picture of all of us - the three directors, two chief caregivers and
myself -- was taken in front of the gate of Children's Department. Mr.
Chang walked us to the entrance of the House where the senior building
was under repairs. He waved "good-by" and said "take good care of yourself."
On the way back to the hotel, Soldier Chen told me that Mr. Zhu and Mr.
Chen might be in the hotel waiting for me since Mr. Chang had asked him
to make the arrangements for people from the County House to come pick
up the donation. I waved goodbye to Soldier Chen and watched the taxi
move along the hotel driveway after I was dropped off.
I waited for Mr. Chen in the lobby after finishing my packing and took
him to the Business Center of the hotel. The donation, a thick pile of
Chinese yuan, was handed to him and an official receipt was given to me.
I asked Mr. Chen if the County House had decided what the donation would
be used for. He said that it would be spent mainly on medicine. He promised
to contact me once they had used the money on children so I was able to
pass along the message to the families that made the donation.
I checked out before noon to avoid paying extra money for lodging. It
was almost five hours before I boarded on a train for my next destiny.
So I accepted Mr. Chen's invitation to go to a restautant. Mr. Chen and
I were talking about his House over the lunch.
The County House was founded in 1994 and moved to a new location on a
converted rice paddy of 2 acres in 1998. About 60 children were being
cared for, but no senior citizens at present. Children ages ranged between
several days to three years old.
Mr. Chen did not mentioned if they had handicapped children there. The
new constructed House had a row house with several units, which had 4
rooms in each. Four of the units were used for young children. There were
eight young children in one unit cared for by three caregivers. For the
older children, they stayed and had meals at the House during the day.
At night they went with caregivers to sleep at the caregivers' homes,
which were nearby or in the House courtyard.
Mr. Zhu and Mr. Chen helped me drag the two suitcases to a black car that
they rented from the county to drive to the city. The car carried us to
the train station. At the checkroom, we shook hands for good-bye. I waved
to the two gentlemen and turned over, started searching for bottled water,
canned food and newspapers for the train ride to my next destination --
Wuhan, Hubei Province.
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