For years, the Center for Humanitarian Activities (Hai Duong Provincial Red Cross Society) has become a place to receive and nourish a lot of unfortunates.
Grandmothers and mothers at the center always look after the children wholeheartedly and thoughtfully
There, they are protected and loved. Many of them have found real homes for themselves.
Many rejected lives
It was a slightly cold late autumn afternoon. Despite loud playing noises made by pupils of an adjacent elementary school, twin brothers H.Q.H. and H.T.L. still lay quietly on a small bed at the Center for Humanitarian Activities.
Though over 2 years old, H. and L. were still as small as candy. Innate cerebral palsy took everything from them. While the elder brother could crawl around the bed, the younger one had to lie in one place all day with curled hands and a heavy oversize head unable to lift.
According to members of the center, H. and L. were taken there in May 2015 by their mother. Because of too difficult family circumstances with no money for treatment and rearing, several days after her delivery, their mother painfully sent them to the center in the hope that some benefactor would care for and have her children treated.
"At first, the mother occasionally returned to the center to visit her sons; however, in recent months, she has not come. Maybe she does not dare face her children and look into their eyes," said Nguyen Trung Dung, Director of the Center for Humanitarian Activities.
It is very rare for children to go there without any secretiveness, i.e. their relatives pull strings for them with sufficient names and native places like H. and L., according to the center's staff.
Most children entered the center in really pitiful ways. They were only several days of age, reddened in flimsy clothes, and lying curled up in paper boxes placed in front of the center, pagodas, or hospitals or under bridges.
"They came here completely naked. There was nothing attached to them except for some clothing and a small feeding bottle. No date of birth, no name, and no native place. Rejected right after birth and not carefully looked after, so they are very weak and often sick," said Cao Thi Thu Phuong, a staff member in charge of the center's rearing section.
For example, T.D.B. was abandoned on February 14, 2017, several days after birth, so he is frequently sick and spends more time at the hospital than the center.
Suffered from a chronic lung disease, B. often has to be hospitalized. Looking at the thin and pale boy, no one thinks he is almost one year old.
"B. has just been discharged from hospital. Doctors said his disease is incurable. He is only a little kid but always sick! Poor him!" added Phuong.
The children really need benefactors
Unbothered by the noise, hastiness, and scramble of the outside world, the children still disinterestedly play in small rooms. Their eyes are still shiny black, and they still laugh in clanging peals.
"Maybe they are too small to realize their disadvantages. The kids have different identities but similar misfortunes. They were abandoned just a few days after birth with no parents, nothing to prove their presence in this world, and no clue to find their native places," Dung pityingly said.
There are cases really obsessive and torturous to the center's staff.
Nearly one year ago, the center received a baby several days old. He was brought to the center at around 4 pm in a very weak condition. Shortly after reception, he was rushed to hospital. Doctors did their best. Everybody prayed to God and Buddha, but no miracle happened.
"He stayed with us until nightfall then departed from this life. Everyone looked at him in impuissance. At that time, everyone blamed his mother/father for ruthlessly abandoning their own child. Poor his short life," Dung recalled.
Benefactors really needed
Sitting arranging a box of clothes freshly sent by a philanthropist, Nguyen Thi Thu, a staff member of the center, cheerfully said: "This is for B.! These are for T. and L.! All are brand new. They can wear clothes to their hearts' content!"
Having been attached to the children for more than three years, Thu is always excited like that whenever receiving gifts of benefactors for the children.
"There remain a lot of difficulties at the center; therefore, the more things they get, the less miserable they are," she explained.
"Some other staff members and I were assigned to daily take care of the children from dressing to bathing.
"It is very strenuous; however, knowing how disadvantageous and unfortunate they are, we tell each other to try harder."
According to Phuong, the center is looking after 17 children, the youngest of them is only three months old.
"The weather has turned cold. The children really need diapers, milk, and winter clothes. I hope benefactors will open up their hearts to relieve the kids' grief," Phuong gently advised.
Finding homes for the children is always a burning desire of the staff there.
"They have been disadvantageous since birth; thus, finding families for them to rely on is our desire and responsibility," Dung shared.
"Adoption must comply with strict legal provisions and be decided by higher-level authorities. We are only responsible for handing them over at the request of the authorities.
"In many cases, the center had to assign staff to carefully learn about adopters before handing children over to their new families."
After handover, the center's staff only feel relieved to know that the children are healthy, loved by their adoptive parents, and well educated.
For instance, B.B.P., whose mother is a native of Thanh Ha, lived with his maternal grandfather after his mother left. Too old and weak to raise the kid, his grandfather took him to the center. Some time later, the child was adopted by an Israeli husband and a French wife.
At the center, P. had signs of autism and rarely communicated with other people. Since coming to his new family, P. has often accompanied his parents during their business trips, making him much more agile and happy. Allowed to go to international school, he now can normally communicate in four languages of Vietnamese, English, French, and Israeli.
Another example is T.T.T who was adopted by the family of a teacher and an official in Tien Lang district (Hai Phong city). He was handed over to the family in early 2015. Now he is over 3 years old, well integrated into the family, and really loved by his adoptive parents.
To take care of the children, apart from limited funds from the State budget, the center often has to call for support from benefactors in and outside the province. People can make donations in various ways as long as they are helpful to the rearing of the kids.
Recently, a business has asked to repair and install air conditioners, equip bedrooms with TVs, buy bicycles, and place stone chairs in the center's precinct with a total cost of nearly VND160 million. The Youth Union Chapter of the Provincial Agencies Bloc has also donated VND20 million. Some clean water suppliers have contributed VND30 million.
"In addition to cash, philanthropists can also make practical in-kind contributions like clothes, diapers, milk, and other items to better and better care for the children together with us," Dung urged.