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Church group offers faith, hope and charity

By Xu Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-16 06:58

Church group offers faith, hope and charity

Father Li Rongpin stands outside the church and seminary in Hebei province where he trained as a priest.[ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY]

Abandoned families

One of the earliest programs the foundation established provided assistance to 45 families whose members contracted AIDS after being given contaminated blood at a hospital in Shahe, Hebei, in the 1990s. The charity provides each family with 4,000 to 5,000 yuan every year to help fund their children's education.

He Xuecai, a nun who works for Jinde's AIDS prevention program, said one of the most important tasks is helping people with AIDS to live with their condition: "All their relatives and friends have virtually abandoned them. Sometimes, we are the only people they can talk to."

She cited the example of a family that spent an entire day preparing a banquet to celebrate the grandfather's 60th birthday. Invitations were issued to relatives and friends, but no guests showed up-they stayed away because one member of the family had AIDS.

According to He, the nuns are willing to discuss almost any subject with the families, from their treatment by society to raising children, but they will never mention their missionary work unless they are asked about religion.

The objective is to help people with AIDS and their children to conquer their inner fears and, ultimately, find jobs and live normal lives, she said.

"We hope they will eventually rediscover their self-respect through work. But the chances are that they will be fired when people learn that they have AIDS," she said, noting that many children from AIDS families have low self-esteem even though they do not have the virus.

"I feel low when I discover that my work won't make a difference, but I find strength through prayer," she said. "Even now, I can't work out if my efforts have actually improved their lives, but if we gave up, they might lose the only people they can talk to."

The program also works with mutual-help gay groups that have enlisted the foundation's help to oversee the funds they receive via donations.

"Our slogan in the fight against AIDS is that people should refrain from premarital sex. We do not support their (gay groups') behavior, but we believe they deserve the same care as other patients," the nun said.

Donations rise

Last year, the growing popularity of mobile-payment platforms saw donations to Jinde rise by more than 5 million yuan from 2015.

"Individual donors are now major sources of donations," Li said, adding that mobile-payment has made it easier for people to donate to charitable causes. "Before, a person would have to go to the post office to make a donation, but now it's all down to a few finger movements."

The rapid growth of new media platforms has also helped the foundation to promote its programs. "Despite that, we still need effective, traditional public relations to reach potential donors," he said.

The growing influence of the internet has also placed a greater onus on transparency about the use of donated funds and the administration of charities.

"We are trying to make all our expenditure traceable online, and we will also try to make our personnel management and financial situation visible on the web," Li said, adding that the foundation is now looking for trained professionals to help run its operations.

"Each of us has a loving heart and a strong sense of mission. We are not seeking any personal gain from the foundation, but running a successful charity requires much more than just good intentions," he said.

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