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Special> Video> Latest
UPDATED: October 22, 2013
Prisoners' Children Given New Homes in Sun Village

China has no rules and regulations to protect the legal rights of children whose parents are in prison. Some of them are taken care of by their relatives, while others are left alone and marginalized. Some civil organizations do take care of them, but they are not well supported by the government and face difficulties raising money.

Preparing to show their gratitude, all these children's parents are in prison.

They are now living in Sun Village in northern Beijing, and are being looked after by Zhang Shuqin, the village founder.

"I used to be a supervisor at a jail in Shaanxi Province. I noticed that many prisoners attempted to escape, or even commit suicide because they were worried about their children who were left alone. I found there were no laws to protect such children. So I decided to do something about it," Zhang said.

Zhang launched Sun Village thirteen years ago to look after children left alone when their parents were sent to prison. They go to primary and junior schools to receive a proper education. But Zhang says many people don't understand what she is doing.

"There are many problems running the village, such as the lack of money and experience. But what worries me most is that many people still don't understand why I am helping the children of criminals, or in their language, bad people. Some are even questioning if I am doing it for money or with political ambitions. But in fact, all I want is to protect these children," Zhang said.

The plight of abandoned children was highlighted by the case of two girls who starved to death in the southern city of Nanjing.

They were left with their drug-addict mother after their father was sent to prison.

The government says there are more than 600,000 children in China who have at least one parent in prison. About one-in-ten are living in poor conditions. The kids at this home are part of a lucky few

Chen Jinguo, Chen Jinwei, and Chen Jinbiao are triplets. They were sent to Sun Village last Christmas after their mother killed their father in a domestic dispute.

The oldest son saw what happened, and had been depressed ever since. The other two are feeling down too.

"The three kids were crying really hard when they first got here. They were asking to see their mom. We had to lie to them that their mom was in hospital, and she would come to pick them up when she recovered," said Peng Yongzhen, nursing teacher of Beijing Sun village.

Now the three kids have adjusted to their new home. They have become happier, and more energetic. With the help of older kids, they are trying to manage their lives. But the village is not their only home.

This is the farm that Zhang opened 11 years ago to support the Sun Village's day-to-day operations. Children from the home help plant fruits and vegetables to feed themselves. Anything extra is sold to earn money for the home. Working here also gives them a chance to learn how to be self-dependent.

Every weekend, children from the village come to the farm to help. They are not doing hard work, but some easy jobs through which they can learn the spirit of team-work, and understand how important it is to be self-reliant. Working in the farm also helps them ease their depression.

Back in the village, the kids gave us a preview of the acrobatics they have prepared for their supporters. They show us how confident and happy they are.

What they are not getting from their parents, they're getting in Sun Village. And they want everyone to know they are grateful.

(CNTV.cn October 21, 2013)


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