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Charitable project wins sick children's hearts
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-11 22:48

When Li Chengkai headed to New York to receive a life saving open-heart surgery in October of last year, he could only speak in a whisper and his lips were purple for severe lack of oxygen in his blood.

Seven weeks later, the 16-year-old came back with glowing eyes and a brilliant smile.

The teen, who was born with congenital heart disease into a poor farm family of Xingtai in North China's Hebei Province, could receive such costly heart surgery thanks to the Gift of Life Programme initiated by the Rotary Club Beijing (Provisional), a branch of the worldwide charitable organization -- Rotary International.

Li is only one of the beneficiaries of the programme since Rotary Beijing helped arrange such heart surgeries for more than 68 Chinese children with congenital heart disease in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Great Neck, Long Island in New York in the United States.

With the project focusing mainly on children at risk and emphasizing healthcare, education, training, and capacity building, Rotary Beijing began its charitable deeds more than a decade ago.

By holding an annual Rotary ball for charity, the charitable organization launches money-raising campaigns from participants through corporate sponsorships, donations of goods and services, generous participation through auctions and tickets for entertainment.

More than 6 million yuan (US$725,000) has been injected into 37 projects in four years, said Regula Hwang, president of Rotary Club Beijing at a news conference.

In the fund-raising campaign at Rotary Ball for Charity last year, the organization raised nearly 1 million yuan (US$120,000), which has been invested in an HIV/AIDS programme to support the families of infected children.

The 2004 Rotary Ball for Charity is scheduled to be held in Beijing on May 29, and the funding target for this year will be 1 million yuan (US$120,000), she said.

"All the net proceeds raised by the Rotary Ball for Charity will go 100 per cent to worthwhile projects assisting children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Central China's Henan Province and North China's Shanxi Province, the Beijing Children's Village -- a home for children of imprisoned parents -- and the Fortune and Minkang schools serving the needs of mentally-handicapped children," Hwang said.

The Beijing-based Stars and Rain Institute for Autism as well as children in need of heart surgeries are also beneficiaries, she added.

"Caring for the community we live in is caring for ourselves. I hope more and more people will join us to help those needy children," Hwang said.

More people see hope as charities in China develop.

In another such charitable event, the Beijing-based Hard Stone Dinning Hall will hold a charitable auction on Friday to make donations to blind children's school in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

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