Coal for Kids

Posted by Pete DeMola on 26. Nov 2009

BEIJING, Nov 26 - While those of us reared in the West have always equated the presence of coal in our Christmas stockings as a rebuke for the past year's naughty behavior, for many children in northern China, the presence of the carbon-based rock is an absolute blessing.

Friends Matter is a new initiative undertaken by 20 students from the Raffles Design Institute's Fashion Marketing and Management Department to raise money for the Our Chinese Daughters Foundation (OCDF), an non-governmental organization (NGO) that seeks to improve the lives of orphans via a variety of projects.

Coal for Kids is one of those projects. Alongside the OCDF, the students aim to raise a minimum of 240,000 RMB per year to ensure the survival needs of residents in five orphanages via the subsidization of heating fuels and basic items like diapers and milk.

Winters in the Northeast are notorious for their brutality. Imagine being a kid without the proper clothing, bedding and living in a room with broken windows and a damaged roof that allows the wind to blow in.

That's what it's often like for those in some of these rural, NGO-run orphanages.

When the winter's limited coal supply runs out in these underfunded institutions, the kiddies run the risk of getting frostbite, which leads to nerve damage and in the worst cases, causes fingers and toes to turn black and fall off.

At some of these orphanages, this can happen even when the kids are in bed.

"They don't have enough coal for the heating," said someone who is familiar with the conditions and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Out of 60 children residing in one institution, they said, 40 of them need permanent care. "They are lying in beds and some of them are paralyzed. They can't do anything when flies are sitting on their faces," they said while describing the overcrowded and understaffed conditions of an orphanage three hours outside of Beijing by train.

The occupants range in ages from 3 months to 24-years-old.

Coal for Kids seeks to raise the aforementioned capital via locking in sponsors through an ongoing campaign that is set to culminate with a charity fashion show at Cangku Bar on Fri, Dec 18.

"We're going to split into two groups of 10 to create two mini-fashion shows to showcase our new looks for Spring/Summer 2010," said organizer Anna Rudashko, 25, a second-year student at the Raffles Design Institute, citing Designers for Darfur as an influence.

"We know that fashion influences a lot of social issues," she said, "and we would like to attract such target groups as 'young fashionistas' to show the public that fashion is not all shallow and fake and can be used to raise money for children."

"Musicians have the power to inspire charity at the grassroots level, and they should do more to support their local communities," added guitarist Skip Lunch, whose band You Mei You will perform at the event. "It's also good publicity."

For info on sponsorship packages, contact Anna Rudashko or Zhang Wanglu.

The Coal for Kids Charity Christmas Party will take place on Fri, Dec 18 at Cangku Bar in Gulou. Fashion show kicks off at 7pm, with live music from punk trio You Mei You and drink specials continuing throughout the night. 30 RMB.

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