Safe havens for abandoned babies bring mixed reception

Updated: 2014-03-27 08:00

By Dong Fangyu (China Daily)

Safe havens for abandoned babies bring mixed reception

A man walks past a baby shelter outside the Guangzhou Social Welfare Home on Monday. The shelter was suspended on Sunday after receiving a total of 262 babies and children since it was put into use on Jan 28. Zou Zhongpin / China Daily

Profile: Feathers of the Heart

Hu Zongqiang, 40, is an airplane mechanic at an Air China maintenance base in Tianjin. But his work goes far beyond that of a regular maintenance technician.

Since October 2012, Hu's voluntary work team has been raising money for newborns with biliary atresia, a life-threatening liver disease, whose families are too poor to pay for medical treatment.

To date, Hu's team, called Xinyu, or Feathers of the Heart, has raised approximately 3 million yuan ($484,000), which has helped to pay for 34 babies to have liver transplants.

The association has 301 volunteers from across China and their ages range from 21 to 45. "They come from various professions, including doctors, teachers and businesspeople. But our common goal of saving these babies unites us," said Hu. "Many hands make light work."

Hu contacted volunteers from around the country via social networking sites such as QQ, Sina Weibo, and WeChat, and also, as an active auto blogger, from online auto online communities.

Now the association aims to expand its range and help poor families with newborns with other potentially fatal illnesses, including congenial heart disease, hydrocephalus and leukemia.

"Some poor families only gave their children up when faced with expensive surgery fees," he said.

Hu said the association is a grassroots voluntary group. "We are very careful about the use of donations and try to be as transparent as possible.

"What we are doing is not about demonstrating how socially responsible we are, but about respect for life. Having seen all the medial traumas and dramas, you learn about the strength of life," he said.

"You can find the greatest satisfaction in the innocent smiles of babies."

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