Nanjing children’s hospice, the Rainbow Centre, today marked its fifth anniversary, with a touching ceremony attended by over 200 people who made the long journey to deep in Jiangning District, in a gesture of support, care and love.
The southern slopes of Nanjing’s Niushou Shan have in recent years become home to the Nanjing Social Children Welfare Institute. In any other circumstances, the locale would be thought of as idyllic. Were there to be no sign at the entrance, this could be a rather exclusive gated community compound.
Yet, here the air is tinged with tragedy.
Of the 400 or so children at the orphanage, some 32 at present are to be found in the Rainbow Centre that provides them with palliative care; some children have afflictions that are simply incurable, others perhaps only months to live.
If such children are the heart of the Rainbow Centre, then so its volunteers are the head. The focus of today’s event was quite rightfully on both of the vital organs; a thought-provoking recognition of both heartbreaking affliction and selfless giving. Volunteers are referred to as “mothers”, reflecting an overarching lack of male helpers and that this is, after all, still an orphanage.
A veritable Who’s Who from the world of children’s charities was also in attendance at today’s anniversary, many of whom taking to the stage to present awards recognising the volunteers’ work for the Rainbow Centre; their unceasing efforts at providing loving care to children for whom the centre had become their final home.
The many mini-award ceremonies were pleasantly interspersed with on-the-fly videos giving a little insight into the life under the Rainbow, as well as touching performances from nurses and the centre’s seemingly endless volunteer carers. When the accompanying music unexpectedly cut out, the entire troupe singing “Tomorrow will be Better” soldiered on, accapella, to the end; the thunderous applause received serving as recognition that there are some who will simply not stop… caring.
Sponsors and supporters from across the broad spectrum of charity, commerce, healthcare and education, also graced the event to show support and receive the gratitude of the Centre.
One such patron, Melbourne, Australia-based Caulfield Grammar School, that has operated its Nanjing Campus, the first international campus for an Australian school, since 1998, sponsors a bed in the Rainbow Centre and visiting students spend a short time at the Centre as volunteers. Renee Coventry, Caulfield’s Deputy Head of Nanjing Campus, told The Nanjinger, “Many of the students reflect that the one day when they spent a few hours with the children at the hospice had more meaning than their whole 5 weeks in China”.
Linda Huang, Director for the Rainbow Centre, and arguably the hospice’s lungs, spoke with The Nanjinger and commented of the children, “Even though they are sick, they still have lives. We want them to do what other kids get to do. They have birthday parties, Christmas parties; everything we do for our kids, we do for them. No matter they die soon, or not. Because that is their right”.
Huang confided that she is often somewhat shockingly questioned as to the wisdom of providing such time consuming and expensive care to children whose short lives are to soon to be snuffed out. “I think we have different values. … But I believe the Rainbow home is here, so we open our door, people can see what we do and gradually we want to influence them. Because these children are abandoned. So the number one thing we do is to help them, to give them a family.
“Now you can see; they have smiles, right? … This is real life.”