In the early 1990s, a newborn girl was abandoned in a Chinese orphanage. She lived less than 24 hours. She died without a name, without a family. But her short life touched one man. And he started International China Concern.
Some uncomfortable truths about China's abandoned and disabled.
Only the strong children were able to eat in most orphanages – either because they could latch onto a bottle or were able to fight weaker children for their food. That meant sick kids, or children in need of medical attention, died without help.
It’s hard to imagine. Babies lying shoulder-to-shoulder with up to four others in one small crib. To make them fit, children were put in sideways, which didn’t give them enough room to stretch out or change positions.
With too many children and not enough care workers, most babies only received human contact when it was feeding or changing time. Most children learned to stop crying within a few days of life because they soon realised no one was coming.
There were too many abandoned babies for the low-paid state workers to care for. Budgets were too small to hire the trained staff they needed, which meant millions of sick, vulnerable children were left to fend for themselves.
Millions More Need Help. That's when David Gotts said this to himself (and then to the world):
There had to be another way. A better way. A way for every abandoned child to lead a full life.
In 1993, ICC was created.
We save lives. For newly abandoned children, we take them into our care. And for children living in state-run facilities, we either move them into an ICC home, or work to elevate the standards of care in the Chinese centres.
The building blocks of a meaningful life start by giving children nourishment, therapy and their very own bed! We create a loving, family-style unit in a group home setting where we work to maintain a 1:5 caregiver-to-child ratio.
We advocate for ICC children to enter the school system where appropriate. We do that by working with teachers and administrators to integrate children into mainstream classes, and teaching people about living with disabilities.
Most children come to ICC with serious conditions – but often ones that can be treated. The costs for surgery are usually very high, and can include expenses to travel to a major city, doctor’s fees, accommodation costs and post-surgery medicines.
ICC is transforming communities by preventing abandonment in the first place. By offering parents of disabled children education, respite care, financial aid and other supports, ICC gives parents much-needed help and is keeping more families together.
We care for children within our ICC facilities, but we also try to help raise the standards of care in government-run orphanages using the latest therapies, nutrition and child care techniques – including lots of holding, eye contact and playtime.
What does it all mean?? Let's look at Wang Hua's story
At 4 years old, she couldn’t move, received no physical therapy and shared a bed with an immobile boy who helped keep her alive by making sure she was fed and warm.
Knowing Wang Hua would die if she stayed in that facility, we brought her to an ICC care centre. There, she received a motorized wheelchair to gain some independence, lots of therapy to help control her muscle movements, and all the love and special attention she deserved.
Since then, Wang Hua has grown into an amazing woman with many special responsibilities at her centre. She often greets newcomers and encourages the other girls to tidy their rooms. More recently, she taught some special education classes and spoke confidently at a fundraising event in front of 1,600 people.
Such an affectionate girl with a sweet disposition, Wang Hua is one of many ICC children who have gone from near death to leading a truly fulfilling life.