Connecting community

Updated: 2013-07-02 14:33

By Tang Zhe (China Daily)

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Connecting community

Women in a handiwork group spend their spare time producing handicrafts. Photos by Zhang Wei / China Daily

After one year helping the organization as a volunteer, she was offered a full-time job at the center that she held for four years.

At the end of 2008, Qi moved to Beijing and with two friends started a community activity center to provide cultural and educational services for women migrant workers in the capital's Changping district.

They named the center "Mulan", after China's legendary heroine Hua Mulan, who takes her aged father's place in the army, making her a symbol of brave and independent Chinese women.

Mulan could also represent the beauty of women because of the Mulan magnolia.

"We found most of the women coming to the metropolis from the countryside have no cultural or entertainment outlets, whether they were working or taking care of children at home," says Qi, who brought her son with her to Beijing.

"All they talk about are family and children. They barely have any sense of themselves," Qi says. "Sometimes people live in the same village but don't know each other. What we want to do is to unite everybody, to face problems in work and life together."

Between 2010 and 2012, Mulan had no financial support and had to pay rent by selling secondhand goods donated by universities, but the community center is now attracting more supporters.

Xi Xilin, who came to Beijing from Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, more than 10 years ago, says she has become more confident and talkative after joining Mulan.

Xi has worked many jobs in Beijing, from selling hair accessories on the roadside to cutting around 400 kg of vegetables a day in restaurants. She became a housewife after giving birth to her second child.

"I have no friends or relatives here and spent most of my time at home disconnected from society, which made me feel lonely and inferior," Xi says. "I didn't know how to express myself in the past, but now I can talk with ease."

The mother of two says she also learned how to educate children in the center's parents' class. She is now better at communicating with her kids and the atmosphere in her family has improved.

The center now runs computer classes, singing teams, reading groups and a handiwork group. Qi hopes to add more classes.

"Our service now focuses on spiritual needs, but we found there are many mothers who can't find a full-time job because they are taking care of babies, so we want to explore developing a business, such as selling handicrafts and distributing the income equitably between them," Qi says. "However, none of us has experience in product design and sales, and we hope we will attract some warmhearted experts to help us in this field," she says.

Note: If you have clothes, household appliances and books you no longer use, please donate to the Mulan Community Activity Center at Dong Shagezhuang village, Beiqijia town of Changping district. Tel: 010-5843-5256 or 15313509292.

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Connecting community

Connecting community

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