In the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Hunan Province, due to low levels of education and family poverty, it is difficult for the elderly to shoulder the responsibility of educating orphaned grandsons and granddaughters. The prefecture has now started to explore a model of “centralized support” for orphans, designed to provide better education and living conditions for children who live up in the mountains with their impoverished grandparents and help them integrate into society.
In 2015 the Xiangxi Charity Federation took the lead in launching the “Orphan Rescue” project, and built the first Ci’ai Garden (慈爱园) in Xiangxi, where 125 orphans from the mountains now form a warm family. Every morning, the children take the bus to the primary and secondary schools located in the prefecture to study. In the evening, their “mother” – Zhang Wei, the director of the center, stands at the door to greet them back home.
The Ci’ai Garden was built according to the separation of various functions like life, entertainment, learning, training and so on. Apart from Zhang Wei, there are more than 20 counsellors who play the role of parents, responsible for life care, psychological counselling, extracurricular education, development training, social practice, employment guidance, etc… Social workers and volunteers also come to tutor the children regularly. The “centralized support” model of the Ci’ai Garden is now being generalized. Ci’ai Gardens have already opened up in another four counties in the prefecture and accepted about 650 orphans. It is estimated that by 2020 this model will be implemented in the whole prefecture.