Creating a sense of belonging for abandoned disabled children

One of the neighbors of the Pulp & Paper Chemicals (Eka) operations at the Suzhou Industrial Park, the Boai School & Rehabilitation Clinic, is near to the hearts of our colleagues.The Boai School is a non-state, non-profit, registered charity organization set up in 1998. It takes care of vulnerable children who have been segregated from social life because of their disability. A group of 20 disabled children, who have been abandoned by their parents, permanently live at the school premises. Apart from receiving pre-school and junior high school education, they are also given the required treatment for their disabilities.

When Leif Sun, Health Safety & Environment Manager of Eka heard that a hearing language recovery instrument was urgently needed, he consulted with his colleagues and they agreed that they would help their neighbors. They paid a visit to the Boai School and noticed many more needs, like more exercise facilities making the right physiotherapy possible but above all care and attention for the children. Support from the Community Program was granted and a group of 36 volunteers was formed.

One day in September the volunteers, including their families, went out to give a helping hand to Boai, such as in housekeeping and in assisting the children with certain activities. First they had purchased the hearing rehabilitation instrument as well as Lego toys that help the children with their coordination. The toys bricks are the children’s favorite game and their imagination and fantasy are inspired as well by this game, making them forget their health condition. Lots of other activities were guided by the volunteers such as sports contests, other games and rehabilitation exercise. Special attention was paid to those children that lacked certain social skills to help them communicate and make them feel confident.

It was a worthwhile day for the children and the smiles on their faces was the best reward the volunteers could get. It made them decide to continue their supporting activities on a regular basis and a plan was also made to take the children out of the school on a visit to their working environment. As Leif Sun explained: ‘there is an old saying in China: Extend the respect for the elderly and the love for children in your own family to other families. When people treat others equally, we will create a harmonious society.’
Our colleagues certainly have brought these words into practice when reaching out to their disabled young neighbors at the Boai School.