NGOCN: what can Chinese NGOs do for left-behind children?

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After four left-behind children in Bijie committed suicide, an article questioning the role of China’s public welfare sector went viral among the Chinese NGO community.The article, titled ” Chinese NGOers have no right to discuss the Bijie tragedy” (中国公益人,我们没有资格谈毕节悲剧), points out that there are already lots of NGO projects designed to solve the problem of left-behind children in the region, and NGO workers pour into the town every time there is an incident involving left-behind children. However, it says, they failed to stop the tragedy from happening.

However the website NGOCN have analysed this issue and come to a different conclusion. According a local NGO worker quoted in the NGOCN investigation, there aren’t many NGOs or projects dedicated to left-behind children in Guizhou, the province where Bijie is located. Projects and related resources are often channelled into urban areas instead of rural areas, which is mostly a result of the government’s focus on the urban migrant population. Resources and attention on the children that remain in rural areas remain scarce.Although the local government carried out policies to monitor left-behind children, it also seems that the results are not that effective.

For the NGOs that do focus on left-behind children, they mainly receive material donations even though the most urgent issue is not material. There is very limited funding to support social workers to carry out projects designed to improve the mental health of left-behind children. Wenhua Zhou, the Director of the “Blue Letter Project”, says that the most urgent problem facing China’s left-behind children is a lack of companions and a sense of security. Zhou suggests that the best way to tackle the mental health problems facing left-behind children is to place social workers in schools. But before that can be done, there are three problems that need to be solved first: 1. funding; 2. cooperation from local schools; 3. finding enough social workers willing to be based in rural areas.


In Brief

What did NGOs in China do wrong? Several factors that could stop the Bijie children suicide incident from happening.
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