Home is where heart is

By Liu Xiangrui and Feng Zhiwei(China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-19

Home is where heart is

Alison Kennedy is mainly involved in rehabilitation and training of orphans or disabled children at the nonprofit Chuntian Service Center in Hunan province. She says her greatest joy now is to see the children being taken good care of. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Although Kennedy didn't plan to stay long back then, she realized that some of the children there needed professional assistance. And, she couldn't stop thinking about the work there after her role had ended. Her inner voice brought her back to Hunan amid protests by her parents who wanted her to stay back in Britain, she says.

Kennedy is glad that thanks to China's fast economic growth in the past years and the local government's growing charitable efforts, the center has seen huge improvements.

From a simple building with very basic facilities at the beginning, it has become an organization with two fully-equipped five-story wings, a sports field and a swimming pool.

The nonprofit provides all-round care for more than 160 orphans or disabled children who suffer from cerebral palsy, blindness and deafness, among other physical problems.

"We couldn't imagine that the place would become so good," says Kennedy of her thoughts a decade ago.

She says the nonprofit's goal is to help every orphaned or disabled person integrate into society like ordinary people so that they can feel at home. In addition, all members aged 16 and above are regarded as adults and need to be given suitable jobs.

"We've also organized the members into small families to let them feel the love. The children are happier, more confident and independent than before," says Kennedy.

Kennedy, as a volunteer, gets no salary from the organization except one free lunch a day.

According to her, though her parents had opposed her decision to give up well-paid jobs in Britain to do voluntary work in a faraway country, they gradually started to sup-port her. They started to understand her better when she kept sending them photos and videos of her work in Hengyang, and finally paid her a visit in 2008.

Kennedy says she will continue her work here unless one day her parents need her to take care of them.

"I don't want to live for myself only. I wish to use my own resources to help other people, no matter where I am."

Wen Xinzheng and He Mao contributed to the story.

Contact the writers through liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

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