Recently, I was given the opportunity to attend a show put on by the Tianjin Institute of Children's Welfare. This shelter provides a place of refuge for disabled orphans who were abandoned by their parents at birth. The orphans cared for by this shelter are afflicted by a range of severe disabilities - both physical and mental.
However, during the performances, the disabilities of these orphans were not what counted, it was their natural abilities and talents which were given center stage! This show was held one day before Children's Day on June 1st (the more auspicious day for a performance) due to a critical reason. One of the performers, a girl in a wheelchair, would be going for surgery on June 1st which would enable her to leave her wheelchair behind and stand on her own legs for the first time. The shelter is given the opportunity to send three of its children for operations such as this one every year.
The performances were endless in their variety and were a treat for the eye. There were comedic cross-talks, dances, and art shows which revealed the talents of the youth housed within these walls. There were also shows of patriotism that were focused especially only the Olympics. As the Chinese flags waved, the children joined in song and a recreation of the Olympic torch was run around the stage, I felt honoured to be there.
The people invited to the event were equally as varied as the performances. The fellow who sat next to me was Spanish, had been in China for 13 years and worked with a Spanish food company! There were other foreigners at the back who I did not get the chance to meet. The room was also filled with primarily Chinese guests who travelled in both locally and from afar just to see the show. Local media was also present to capture the unique event on film. The one thing that the members of the audience had in common was that they were involved in supporting the shelter in one way or another. PPG recently provided all of the interior and exterior paint for the shelter - a monumental gift! There were also plenty of stuffed toys present at the event which were donated by PPG as well.
After the performance, the guests were given a tour of the facilities. Here, I was shown the dormitory rooms, care rooms and play rooms. One room I found especially moving was a room full of at least 20 babies that were under the careful observation by 3 nurses. These babies all had severe cleft lip and this was the first time I had seen this physical condition in my life. These were all babies abandoned by their parents, thank goodness the Welfare Institute is able to support them due to the sponsorship of the central government and from generous corporate sponsors such as PPG.