Only a few days before World AIDS Day on December 1, WildChina’s VP Paul Moreno had one of the most meaningful experiences of his life when he took a group of philanthropists from the Chi Heng Foundation to a village in Southeastern China that is severely affected by HIV/AIDS.
The Chi Heng Foundation is based in Hong Kong and focuses on providing educational and social support to children and adults affected by HIV/AIDS. Says Paul, “this year’s Walk for Chalk (the name of the Chi Heng trip) was a very special trip as this was the to be the first time that kids from Fuyang village were invited along to meet the donors.
What surprised me most was the spirit of the group, mustered from an otherwise group of strangers, brought together by their act of kindness to help. The work that the Chi Heng Foundation has done over the past 10 years in raising awareness of the epidemic here in China, as well as supporting the affected kids, is also no easy task.
It was a very moving trip throughout, especially when I finally got to meet the kids. It was the first time I was to meet someone living with HIV/AIDs, and to be honest, after all the lectures we were given by the accompanying social workers on the matter, I still did not quite know what to expect, and how I was to react.
When we met them however, they were very open and friendly, as well as lively – just like any other kid their age. When I saw them smile and have such a great time with the local kids, it made this trip ever so worthwhile. It was just unforgettable how happy they were, ambling up the Qi Yun Mountain, seeing all these amazing Daoist carvings, and trying to read every word they saw out loud!
On our second day with the kids, we planned for a “Mini-Olympics” day where local kids, donors and our kids from Fuyang could play and compete all together. Games are a fun way to break the ice and to get everyone involved, and what a success it turned out to be. I was pleasantly surprised as to how serious everyone took it, and I think that it brought out the best in everyone.
The reality of the children’s plight, as well as their families, was most evident when after the lunch barbeque one of the kids came up to me and asked: “Would it be possible for us to take back home the leftover lamb kebabs? My parents have not had meat for almost a year”.
This question made me realize how lucky many of us are, to do what we do, and to see what we see. To see the kids’ smiles, their joy and their optimistic approach to life made this trip special, and I am looking forward to helping the Chi Heng Foundation create more trips like this around the country.”
The Chi Heng Foundation was recently honored in Hong Kong by the Clinton Global Initiative. If you would like to support their mission of helping those affected by HIV/AIDS, you can donate directly through their website.