December 17, 2009

Orphans Homeless Again Because of Unwelcoming Neighbors

Innocent child oblivious to troubles

Orphans temporarily accommodated in the home of one volunteer
One child waiting to receive surgery

More than 10 orphans with congenital disorders were scheduled to move into their new home in Shanghai, Minhang District last Thursday, where the spacious townhouse was expected to provide them with a more comfortable environment. However, when they arrived in the area, local residents as well as security guards denied them entrance. The throng had formed a human wall to block off passage to the house, refusing to let the orphans and their caretakers enter. The stand-off lasted almost the entire day under a rainy sky. Finally, the children had to be temporarily placed inside the home of one Aixin Mama (爱心妈妈, a woman who volunteers to take care of orphans). Her husband left their apartment that evening to make room for the young guests.

Were the property managers and local residents of Shengtaosha (圣淘沙) too cruel, or did they actually have to right to turn away the orphans, who would supposedly disrupt quiet living in the district? In the absence of laws and regulations, how should these spontaneous "grassroot" charity organizations continue to operate?

Flashback

At 8:15AM last Thursday, Mother Doudou went to Shengtaosha to make the last moving-in arrangements and to prepare the house for her charges. What greeted her instead was destruction in the front yard. The fence which had been put up earlier was razed to the ground.

"The lease of our old orphan home just terminated. We rented this townhouse because we wanted to provide a more spacious environment to the children...But the new neighbors protested as soon as they learned that handicapped orphans were moving in next door." Mother Doudou said that to mitigate the neighbors' fears, they created some informational pamphlets about Aixin Mama organization and placed them in nearby mailboxes. They had hoped that these pamphlets would create a better understanding. Unfortunately, the plan backfired.

Even on the night preceding last Thursday, neighbors filed complaints with property managers and called security when they saw volunteers setting up furniture in the townhouse.

After Mother Doudou saw the mutilated fence, she sought answers from neighbors, who strongly denied any involvement.

"The management remained silent regarding the sabotage of our home. Meanwhile, the neighbors insisted that the townhouse was only meant for a family of 3. The number of children under our care allegedly exceeds its capacity." The confrontation became physical when Aixin Mamas tried to put their suitcases in the house. One white-collar female volunteer was spitted upon by a male neighbor and could not stop crying. The man also stretched out his leg to trip her. A local resident fell amidst the scuffle and later claimed bodily injury.

"There were 4 or 5 security personnel guarding the door," resident Mrs. Sun recalled. 20 guards and 3 managers came to ensure peace in the residential area, but once the volunteers started the fight, said Mrs. Sun, the situation quickly deteriorated. Police were summoned twice.

It began to rain quite hard around 10AM. While the neighbors found refuge in their personal garages, Aixin Mamas and other volunteers had no place to go. One worried Aixin Mama wanted to take the children inside so that they might be shielded from the downpour. Two neighbors immediately rushed out to toss the children's blankets to the ground.

When the reporter arrived at 3PM, he saw vigilant security guards hiding under large umbrellas and neighbors in their respective garages. None of the volunteers were able to enter the house.

Exhausted Volunteer Give Up

"We give up." Aixin Mamas said with tired resignation. "We fear for the children's safety, now that we know what kind of lowlife live here." However, because it is terminating the lease early, the organization cannot recuperate the 3000 yuan deposit or the 4000 yuan rent that was paid in advance. After accounting for the destroyed furniture and apartment decorations, the orphanage had lost a sum of 20,000 yuan. "It really hurts to see the money going to waste this way. Our funding comes from personal donations."

An even more imminent problem pressed: since the new house is off limits, will the children live on streets?

Because of congenital disorders such as hydrocephalus, urinary system malformations, congenital heart disease, neonatal pneumonia, and cleft lip, the children were all abandoned at birth. To ensure that they receive quality care, "Aixin Mamas" take them all to Shanghai, where after one year of medical treatment they will be adopted by willing families. All surgery fees and living expenses come from grassroot donations.

One simple operation costs 10,000 to 20,000 yuan. Treatment for hydrocephalus and other more serious illnesses could amount to more than 80,000 yuan. The money come from the volunteers' personal funds, accumulated through 20 and 50 yuan donations. In addition, the organization hired 1 cook and 3 nannies to care for the children. Fortunately, enough clothes were donated so that Aixin Mamas didn't have to buy those too.

"We just want the kids to be able to take a stroll and enjoy the sun"

The "Aixin Mama" organization never anticipated such hostility. Their wishes were simple: rent a larger living space so that the children can take a stroll and enjoy the sun, and also to provide a place where future orphans can go.

The children were all under 2. Among them only 4 learned to walk. The rest were mere babies. Their smiling faces offered a stark contrast to the anxious looks of their Aixin Mamas.

"When we extracted these children out of their local orphanages, we made sure all the necessary legal and medical paperwork were completed." Mother Doudou explained, "The children have undergone two health checkups, one in their home city and the other here in Shanghai, to root out possibility of any contagious disease."

"Our first site was in Pudong, but since most volunteers lived in Minhang, we moved to Minhang after half year...The apartment was quite small. One child catching the flu meant the others soon became infected. That's why we decided to rent a bigger place." In contrast to the current situation, the old neighbors had been very understanding.

"Charity organized by ordinary people is difficult. [After the confrontation on Thursday,] many Mamas cried. Despite of frustrations and obstacles, we will not waver from our goal. Shanghai actually offers one of the better climes for charitable work. More people are sympathetic than not. We could not have persisted so long otherwise. There is little we ask, only a stable environment for the children and people who are understanding."

Opinions

Experts: Professor Xiaoming Gu (顾晓鸣) from Fudan University (复旦大学) believes that Shengtaosha managers and residents have no right to bar the organization from their area.

"The current law even prohibits discrimination against Hepatitis B patients. What grounds do you have for discriminating against these poor children?...The organization has signed the lease with the townhouse owner, so it is within their legal right to move in. Others should not interfere."

Shengtaosha residents: "We are not heartless people. We respect their efforts and would even like to help. But the fact is they have chosen the wrong place. This is not a commercial area. We ask for a quiet life." Said Mrs. Sun, representative of homeowners in Minhang Shengtaosha.

"Please stand in our shoes for a minute. If a group of disabled children move to the house across from you, countless volunteers, aunties, nurses, and unfamiliar vehicles come and go, would you like it?"

"Opening up an orphanage in residential areas is just not appropriate...In addition to the children, how many cooks, nannies, and housekeepers are needed? Do they even fit in the house?"

"What happens if one kid has contagious disease? The neighboring homeowners might also become infected."

"Many of us own cars and drive daily. It is hard to check for children below 1.2 meter in the rear-view mirror. If we accidentally run them over, who will take the responsibility?" When Aixin Mama promised to keep kids inside, Ms. Sun questioned: "Is it suitable to keep kids cooped up inside all day?"

Some neighbors even bluntly pointed out, "We are sympathetic to the plight of these sick children. But if one child dies here, nobody will rent our houses anymore."

Many Shengtaosha habitants disagree with Professor Xiaoming Gu's view, claiming that the lease does not grant carte-blanche to use the townhouse in whatever purposes the tenant sees fit. "Let me give an example," said Mrs. Sun, "I set up a free meal program and invite beggars as well as homeless people to partake the free food everyday here. Can you say my intentions are not loving? But isn't that disruptive to residential life?"

Several homeowners told the reporter, "Even if they moved in, we would still have found other ways to make them leave."

Property Management: The managers found it to be a relief that the matter was settled among the tenants themselves. They discourage communal living.

-------------------------------------------------

After some digging online, I found the forum where several Aixin Mamas visit. Here is their account of the story:

I am Mother Tianhao. I was at the scene last Thursday.
我是天昊妈,那天搬家我也在场。

This report severely digressed from the truth in several places. Our supervisor has already spoken with the newspaper.
这篇报道存在严重的与事实不符合的地方。我们宝贝之家的负责人已经与报社进行了沟通。

1. The move-in date was set to be December 10, but one Mama already took a donated crib to the townhouse on December 9. While she was there, the couple living across from the townhouse stood outside and cussed for half hour. That Mama has a gentle temperament and did not argue with them.
1,搬家的日子定在12月10号,但在12月9号,有妈妈事先搬别人捐赠的小床去新家,对面的业主夫妇就在外面咒骂了半小时之久。当事的妈妈脾气好,没与他们争论,自己做完后就走了。

2. One of the supervisors Mother Chenghua lives in Shengtaosha. The man went to her house and arrogantly said: Are you Shanghainese? If you are Shanghainese, then we can discuss this matter. If not, I have nothing to say to you.
2,宝贝之家的一个负责人承欢妈妈是住在该小区的,12月9日当晚对面男业主冲到承欢妈妈家,态度嚣张的说:你是上海人吗?你如果是上海人,那我们可以谈,你如果不是上海人,那我们没话可讲。

3. On the morning of December 10, inquiries into the broken fence induced another round of cussing from the same man. When the husband of one volunteer asked him to discuss more calmly, the man threw down his glasses and rolled on the ground, claiming that he had been hit by the volunteers.
3,12 月10日,清晨,搬家的志愿者来到新家,看到院子里新装的木栅栏被毁,就去询问对面的业主是否知道是谁损坏的,结果又引发了对面男业主的一通咒骂。一个志愿者的老公看不下去了,上前指着他说不要骂了,有话好好说,结果那个男业主把眼镜一扔,往地上一躺,说志愿者打他。无赖行径可见。

Some things that the man said:

1. There is no true charity in this society. You are using this as a front to make money.
1,这个社会哪里有真正做慈善的,不就是举个牌子圈钱!
2. Take the children to your own house, not to the house across from mine.
2,真要做慈善吧小孩接到家去,不要到我家对面来
3. I used to be content living in mansions and driving BMWs. If I see the crippled kids outside of my window all day long, how am I going to feel?
3,我本来别墅住住,宝马开开很爽,你们来了后我每天开窗看到对面都是残疾小孩,你说我什么心情
4. This society values force not reason. Once you move in, even Minhang government won't help me. I just have to kill the thing in the bud.
4,这个社会想要办事只有靠武力和不讲理,等你们搬进来了,就算找闵行政府也没用的,所以我要在萌芽状态就吧他掐死
5. I will fight you to death. Even if it lands us 10 years in jail, we will fight you.
5,我今天跟你们拼了,就算后果是坐10年牢也要拼,只要你们搬进来我们就跟你们拼了
6. Tell the landlord, I won't allow any family of more 3 to live across from me.
6,跟房东说,他这个房子除非借给3口之家,其他的他都别想借,借的话来一个我拼一个
7. You know too little about me. I have connections with both mobsters and the police. Several members of the Minhang Anhui Gang are my buddies.
7,你们还不知道我来,我是黑白两道都可以的,闵行安徽帮我认识的不是一个两个
8. You fuck with me, I will fuck those people living in No, XXX (Mother Chenghuan's house)
8,你要是跟我搞,我找不到你们就去XXX号那家(承欢妈妈家)去搞
9. I don't have to work. I have all the time in the world to fuck you. Don't you try messing with me.
9,我反正没工作不用上班,天天都有时间跟你们搞,你们要搬就试试看
10. You are just using charity as an excuse to make money. I have never seen the likes of you!
10,你们那种肯定是靠慈善圈钱的,我到现在还真的没看到过象你们这样刚的人
The self-proclaimed loving neighbors supposedly did not offer to compensate for damages they inflicted on Aixin Mama's properties.

Fortunately, Aixin Mama was able to procure another house for the children.
We found a new house at Minhang Wanke Lanscape (闵行万科假日风景). The rent is lower.

The homeowners there are nicer and the area safer.Two of our supervisors and volunteers live there too.

Speaking of this house, I really believe powers that be were looking after us.

The mothers began to contact real estate agents around 1PM. At 2PM, we received a call about a vacant house in Wanke. It has two stories, 210 square meters, and the rent was lower than Shengtaosha by about 1000 yuan. Anybody who saw it was 120% satisfied. The landlord listened to our explanation about the children and signed the lease without hesitation...When we were moving in, the neighboring homeowners and security guards all came to help. We were so touched.

Source(s):
搬新家遭邻居阻挠10孤儿险流浪街头 http://news.sina.com.cn/o/2009-12-14/125116769899s.shtml
10名孤儿搬新家遭邻居阻挠险流浪街头 http://bbs.bj.liba.com/t_123_4951098_1.htm

4 comments:

  1. This should be example #1 when discussing why the Shanghainese are the white trash of China. Total scum.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hard to generalize in this case since almost everybody in the story is Shanghainese. But the baseness of one group really accentuates the nobleness of the other.

    P.S. There are, however, a lot of discrimination in China against people with disabilities (or in general illnesses)

    ReplyDelete
  3. After living in Shanghai for more than a year I was disgusted by the attitudes of many Shanghainese. Everywhere else in China the people are wonderful, but in Shanghai the locals are cruel and rude. They simply do not care about anyone but themselves.

    I hope that one of those "human flesh search" groups takes up this incident and finds out who these lowlife neighbors are and brings true justice to the poor orphans.

    ReplyDelete
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