An English businessman named Tony who started a charity in Xi’an has been the focus of various reports in the Chinese media throughout the years. He recently gave a talk about himself and his Yellow River Soup Kitchen organization on YiXi (China’s equivalent of TED talks) on July 3rd, which brought him renewed attention.
Tony’s story, as he himself relates it, goes like this: an electronic engineer by profession, he used to own two companies in the UK, and worked 16 to 18 hours a day. At some point he decided to give up his stressful life, sell what he owned and travel around Europe, volunteering as he traveled. He then decided to go to India, getting there via train through Russia; a travel agency recommended that on the way there he visit Xi’an, China’s ancient imperial capital. Once he got to Xi’an, Tony stayed and tried to find charities that he could work for in his free time. This was 12 years ago however, and at the time he was unable to find any charitable organization in Xi’an.
After looking around, Tony heard that a Catholic church in Xi’an would often hand out food or money to the city’s homeless. He went to talk to the local priest, Father Chen, and asked whether he could help. After serving food to the homeless for over a year, Tony gradually developed a small team and had some volunteers to help him out. Father Chen then offered to build him a room for free where he could perform his charity work. This is how the Yellow River Soup Kitchen began. Tony and his team gradually got larger and more professional, going from serving food every Sunday to doing so twice a week, and they now serve over 1000 meals a month. Even though they have a serving room, they still do city walks to provide food for people who are unable to come to the room. Besides serving food, as more people came to Tony and his organization for help, they also started to assist people with more diverse needs, like looking for medical treatment.
As Tony said in his talk, the Soup Kitchen aims not only to help people in need, but also provides people an opportunity to participate in charity and help others.