A few months ago, a girl working at our regular bakery worker told me about one of her colleagues, who was an orphan. She shared her experiences growing up in the orphanage and the young bakery girl was so moved by the story that she decided to share it with me too.
I think we are familiar with newspaper articles featuring stories about private organizations and individuals who donate various items and money to orphanages.
My previous work got me involved in various such community work as well and the saddest things I’ve heard people comment are:
“Wow, these orphans are so lucky! Their books and toys are even better than my kids’s! Why am I giving money to these kids when my own kids don’t even have such good toys?”
“The orphanage rejected our old clothes. Wah…life must be so good for them. Old clothes also don’t want.”
Did these women (yes, mothers!) stop to think:
ORPHANS DO NOT HAVE FATHERS OR MOTHERS OR EVEN A FAMILY
How can these children be lucky? They are lucky just because they have a roomful of toys? Honestly, think about it.
Will you call your child “lucky” if you or your husband died and left him/her all alone with his room of Baby Gap, OshKoh B’Gosh (or whatever designer brand) clothes, Fisher Price toys?
Anyway, now that my tot has outgrown her playpen (which is mostly used to hang bath towels and jackets!), I wondered if the orphanage might want it. I was glad to see that the bakery girl was around and she happily called them up to enquire. They said YES.
I was delighted because I made a custom order of a brand-new coconut husk mattress (costs about RMB300) for the playpen so that babies or toddlers could play/sleep comfortably in it during summer or winter.
The mattress maker kindly agreed to deliver the playpen and mattress to the orphanage for free but he charged me RMB20 for taking away the old mattress LOL
Digging around the cupboards, I found the following items and packed them in shopping bags. Instead of loading them with the mattress maker, I decided to call the orphanage first:
1. Old clothes and shoes
– Not wanted. They prefer new clothes because they didn’t want the risk of bacteria in old clothes affecting all the babies, toddlers and kids since they live together.
– They didn’t even want a hardly-worn winter jacket I’d bought too small for my boy or even some gently-used baby / toddler clothes 🙁 I was heartbroken but Hubby reminded me that I’m supposed to help the kids, ok? Not feel sorry for myself! Takes a deep breath. I think my maid will want them to give to her neighbours because she was eyeing them while I packed the clothes.
– I only had a pair of toddler sleep overalls and a pack of IKEA bibs to give them. Think I’ll buy some new clothes for the kids. Or I’ll check what else they need.
In the end, my ayi took them away with her as she could distribute them among her neighbours who had babies or toddlers.
2. 2 900 g cans of SIMILAC Advance Formula for 0-12 months
– Expire in Nov 2011 (NOT part of the bath recalled! I checked on Abbott’s website, ok?)
– Each can cost me RM85+ (RMB170+) and they were excess we’d brought over last year in Dec. When the girl turned 1, I switched her to (cheaper!) full cream milk, which is why I have these extra cans. The small can on top has expired and have been thrown away.
– FYI, Abbott’s SIMILAC was the only brand of formula that my little girl could drink. I’d tried Anmum, Dumex, Lactogen and Snow but both her rashes stopped and her poo became regular on super expensive SIMILAC. The funny part is that she wasn’t compatible with SIMILAC-2 (6 months and above). Don’t ask me why, ok?
– The orphanage didn’t want them either but I’m going to assure her that it’s similar to the brands here. If any of the babies drink SIMILAC (popular in China), it’ll save them RMB450+. Let’s see how it goes? Even the mattress maker was surprised that the orphanage rejected the cans of milk. I know my maid will take them too.
3. New, unopened boxes of Heinz toddler cereals
– OK only because they are purchased. I guess they are more comfortable seeing familiar Chinese characters printed on them.
– I actually have a few boxes of organic toddler cereal but I don’t think they’ll take them! Sigh, I’ve got to make some cookies or something with them soon…
Always welcome! However, I didn’t like the person I was talking to and neither did the bakery girl!
In any case, I plan to visit the orphanage one day to see for myself what’s the place like. When I asked for the address, I was surprised to hear that it’s on quite a high floor O_O
Aren’t orphanages usually on landed property with grassy, open spaces for the kids to play and run in???
In any case, I found another well-run orphanage, which I will support from now on.
I’m also checking out an old orphanage I used to volunteer at. The kids that I used to play with would be aged between 9-12 by now.
If you’d like to donate your old clothes, shoes, books and toys to orphanages, do call them up first? Also, remember:
“IF A BOOK, SHIRT, PANTS, SHOE OR TOY IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOUR KID, IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR ANOTHER KID, OK?”
I must remember that too. Even if that chocolate milk stained t-shirt or pants is almost as good as new, it’s gonna appear awful to the recipient. I know that when I was given hand-me-downs, I rejected old clothes that looked awful 😛
Click here if you’d like to donate to orphanages and causes in China.
Luckily, my ayi knows the history behind the chocolate milk or grape juice stains and she has a hard time throwing away some of the really “old” clothes. Even when I insist that they are seriously old i.e. our 4-5 year old grubby t-shirts and jeans and not fit to be worn by anyone, she thinks there is still some wear in it.
The next time I grumble about something I don’t like, please bonk me on the head and remind me about such simple folks, ok?
We are very, very, very blessed compared to millions of people around the world who are struggling to survive on a hand-to-mouth basis.
May God bless and keep children safe around the world.