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Moments of Inspiration and Joy

01 October 2014

Watching a little boy’s eyes light up as he’s encouraged to sing and clap along to a song, hearing a 14-year-old girl try copying words spoken in heavily Spanish accented Mandarin, and seeing the rapture on a little boy's face as he’s playfully tickled… These were just some of the highlights of a visit to HuiXin Orphanage this week by Principal Patrick Horne and Associate Principal Gavin Dinsdale, to see firsthand the important volunteer work undertaken by our Community Group.

With Katrin Dressino, Charity Committee Coordinator, guiding the way, the pair was given a tour of the orphanage which has been supported by BISS Pudong since it opened nine years ago. Covering three floors of a residential low-rise building in Puxi, there is little to indicate from the outside that this building houses up to 130 children requiring 24-hour care.

The children range in age from babies to teens, and most have Cerebral Palsy or Down Syndrome. Most but not all of the children at the orphanage are indeed orphans; some were simply left at the facility by family who are unable to care for them. A team of ayis attend to their basic needs, however, it is for the added personal attention, the play and activities, that the Community Group volunteers step in.

Katrin explains, “There are just not enough ayis to do more than the basic care for the children, so it is essential for volunteers to come to give them the time, singing, playing, holding that all children need.”

Up to twenty-five BISS Pudong parents converge on Hui Xin each Thursday for a rather intense hour and a half of cuddles, play and feeding. The children are taken individually from their beds or chairs to indoor or outdoor play areas for very joyful and noisy play sessions. The bonds that have formed over time between the volunteers and the children are obvious with volunteers like Chenyi, Sonia and Cidonie all having personal stories to tell about the sorts of play their charges like and how they have connected over time. Play with the children is quite physical work, as most of the children, even those nine or older, are unable to walk independently and, on this warm sunny day, every volunteer managed to work up a healthy glow.

Mr Horne also met Hui Xin manager, Mrs Luo, and posed for photographs. He said, “It’s obvious to see the work our parent volunteers are doing here is making a real difference in the lives of these children. Their dedication and caring for the children is truly inspirational.”

The Community Group not only provides this essential one-on-one care at the orphanage, but also does a weekly shop for high-protein food to supplement the children’s diet. Some of the volunteers visit at other times during the week, and Community Group funds have also gone towards renovating and fitting out play areas and facilities. This year, the Community Group also plans to renovate and upgrade one of the play areas with funds raised from major school events, as well as the continued support of our students’ fundraising throughout the year.