Chinese New Year, time for family reunion, except for homeless and abandoned children
From Southern Weekend
At a shelter in the city of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, 17 children are going to celebrate the beginning of the Year of Rabbit at its Protection Center for Homeless Children. Among the 17 kids, the youngest is 4 years old, and the oldest is aged 14. The newest comer arrived just a few months ago, and the longest stay spans more than three years. Some were abandoned by their families at a very early age because of having symptoms such as intellectual disability, hearing impairment, and muteness. Some ran away from home after long-time suffering of child abuse and torture, and are unwilling to tell shelter staff their home addresses. There are also children who simply got lost and are unable to contact their families.
Eight caretakers at the protection center take turns to assist these homeless children around the clock. Considering some children who have been conditioned to live on the streets may flee, their scope of activity is confined to the shelter.
According to Xi’an Evening Post, since the founding of the shelter in November 2007, over 100 homeless children were received. Many children who have taken in are not able to remember their names or home addresses, which frustrates effort to send them back home, and created a burden for the protection center. Administrative Measures for Assisting Vagrants and Beggars with No Means of Support in Cities have stipulated that shelter provided to homeless people should last no more than 10 days, but many children have nowhere else to go.
Official statistics says China has around 1 to 1.5 million homeless-children-turned beggars. Many were forced into begging, and some of them were abducted children.
Homeless children in the recreation room cover their faces with hands for fear that their parents would recognize them and find them. (Xinhua/Liu Xiao)
Zhang Xinyue in the recreation room at the protection center of the shelter for homeless. Zhang Xinyue, from Dazhou, Sichuan, is about 10. She was sent by public security office to the center on February 19, 2010. She refuses to disclose personal information and claims she got lost. (Xinhua/Liu Xiao)
Xu Tiantian, from Lingbao, Henan Province. Age unknown. He was sent to the center on October 2, 2010. He remember little about his personal information. (Xinhua/Liu Xiao)
Ma Yongcui (in the back) shampoos little Doudou. Ma Yongcui, from Ankang, Shaanxi Province, about 14, was sent to the center in 2009. A victim of child abuse, he refuses to go home or provide his home address. Doudou, hometown unknown, about 4, suffers from intellectual disability and muteness. She was found in a garbage dump and sent to the center on October 4, 2010. The center staff named her Doudou. (Xinhua/Liu Xiao)
Ma Yongcui (in the back) shampoos little Doudou. (Xinhua/Liu Xiao)
Homeless girl “Deaf Girl” in the recreation room. Hometown and age unknown. Intellectually challenged. Was sent to the center on March 25, 2010. (Xinhua/Liu Xiao)
Deaf Girl takes a nap at a table in the recreation room.