updated 24 Dec 2010, 02:17
user id password
Wed, Dec 01, 2010
China Daily/ANN
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Charity ball organised for China's migrant children

It is 5 am on a cold winter day. Yin Chunxu, 6, is changing out of his night clothes. His eyes are full of tears.

He had hoped his mother would let him sleep just a bit longer. He is tired and it is cold and dark outside. But his tears are in vain.

His parents have no choice. Every day, the migrant worker family from Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, must get up at 5 am, so that the mother can make it to a school for the deaf-mute in downtown Chaoyang district in Beijing, with Yin on time.

The child's father works as a porter in a logistics company, earning 2,000 yuan (S$395) a month; his mother is paid by the hour for housekeeping duties.

They live in a 10 square meter room in suburban Changping district, paying a rent of about 100 yuan every month.

"What they earn barely covers their living costs. They cannot even afford a new pair of hearing aids for their child. They need our help," says Yang Yang, granddaughter of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, and co-founder of JoYa, a PR and fund-raising company.

Yang Yang organized the nation's first charity ball in 2003 and has succeeded in making it an annual event.

Money raised at the 2010 charity gala will go to help migrant children like Yin. "The number of migrant children in China stands at 70 million. They are much more vulnerable than their peers. Many of them live a life more miserable than Yin's. We should not forget them," Yang Yang says.

Born in 1979 as the only child of late leader Deng's youngest daughter Deng Rong, Yang Yang spent her childhood in China before leaving for studies in the United States when she was 16.

She went to high school in San Francisco and in 2002 graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, majoring in psychology.

She set up JoYa with her Singapore friend, businesswoman Jocelyn Ang, when she returned to the country in 2003.

Collaborating with the China Charity Federation, she organized the charity ball that raised 2.1 million yuan to support 2,000 girls to resume schooling.

Since 2003, the gala ball has raised 80 million yuan which has gone toward building schools for disabled children in Sichuan province, helping blind children in the Inner Mongolia and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous regions go back to school, and offering financial support to the China Rehabilitation Research Center to help children with autism.

In 2007, it raised 18.7 million yuan to help the China Paralympic Committee prepare for the Beijing Paralympics. And in 2008, it helped the Sichuan earthquake survivors with surgery and rehabilitation.

In 2009, it provided hearing aids and therapy for 1,200 children with light hearing problems, and invested in rehabilitation centers in western China.

In 2010, the charity ball's focus is migrant children. "Of the 70 million children of migrant farmers, 58 million live at home with their aged grandparents, at serious risk of physical and psychological dangers. Those who go to cities with their parents fare no better. The schools they go to are mostly illegal, lacking teachers and facilities, and they are often left to fend for themselves after school. Many end up becoming Internet caf addicts. For kids with disabilities, like Yin, things are worse," Yang Yang says.

The charity ball held on Friday at the China World Summit Wing was deeply moving. Celebrities, such as Andy Lau and Vicki Zhao, performed with representatives of children of migrant families. Documentaries on the lives of migrant workers were played and art works auctioned.

Yang Yang plans to cooperate with the Chinese Young Volunteers Association and China Welfare Fund for the Handicapped to build Little Home of Care for children from migrant-worker families. "Migrant workers have made great contributions to the development of our country. Without them, our life will not be the same. It's time we pay back," Yang Yang says.

readers' comments

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.