Many of you may know or heard about China's (and many other parts of the world) challenge of overcrowded and understaffed orphanages. These are a vulnerable, helpless population that rely on the kindness of childcare workers to survive. Some are lucky enough to get adopted (but mostly from international adoptions - these orphanages are filled with many medical/special needs children and females.
Unfortunately China- while pushing forward into modernization- still cling to the traditional notions that male children are better and with the One Child Policy many couples rather have a son as their only child.
Studies have shown that lack of physical and emotional interactions with others in early childhood deeply affects the child in physiological ways- many literally die from loneliness. Many people wish they could volunteer at these orphanages to provide more than just basic needs, but love.
However through my research and some contacts with people who run the orphanages- China's state run orphanages usually prohibit foreigners from volunteering for fear that they are just there to "baby shop" or to spread foreign influence.
If you truly want to just lend a hand and a heart, there are ways. Many US citizens or other people from Europe have started their own private orphanages and they welcome volunteers. However, a lot of the work would be on your own - to plan where to live, what to do, how long, etc.
China Care - is an organization founded in 2000 by a young teenager who really had a heart for these children in China. Now there are "clubs" all around the US on college campus to raise awareness and support. China Care Bruins is the UCLA Chapter that does great things like a Mentorship Program for adoptees from China and fundraising for life-saving surgeries for orphans in China. They do not have an international component, but CCB show that you can help just by being on campus.
Blue Sky Healing Home in Beijing
Volunteer through IFRE
New Hope Volunteer in Xian, China
I have heard that going through a church is the easiest instead of going by yourself, but -remember- do your research and understand the dynamics of religious institutions and the Chinese government. Happy hunting!
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