First Lady of Antigua and Barbuda Engages in Humanitarian Effort in China

First Lady Maria Browne presenting gifts to the children of the Jinan Children’s Welfare Centre

First Lady Maria Browne presenting gifts to the children of the Jinan Children’s Welfare Centre

JINAN CITY, People’s Republic of China – August 31, 2014…… First Lady of Antigua and Barbuda, Mrs. Maria Browne took time out from the Official Visit being paid to China by her husband, Prime Minister Gaston Browne to visit the Jinan Children’s Welfare Centre where she met and socialized with the residents and distributed gifts.

The Jinan Children’s Welfare Centre which houses over six hundred children consists of learning, rehabilitation and recreational halls, mini sporting stadium and a medical clinic.  The children of the facility ranges from two months to eight years of age, some of whom are physically and mentally challenged.

Mr. Zhang Guoliang, Deputy-General of Shandong Provincial Foreign Affairs Office and Staff of Jinan Municipal Foreign Affairs Office accompanied the First Lady on the tour of the Jinan Children’s Welfare Center.

“What stood out for me was the fact that they had an entire complex for what they call “homes”. Here, they assign five children to a couple who “act” as, and soon “become” their parents. There are seventy of these homes. In the mornings they would go to the main complex for school and return in the evenings to their homes and families. I had the privilege to visit two of these homes and was blown away by how closely knitted they had become as family units,” the First Lady stated.

According to Mrs. Maria Browne, the idea of creating home-like settings for the children gives them a second chance of having promising futures.   She further stated that many have gone off to universities and have married and have children of their own. Others are in foster care or have been adopted by good families across the world.

“Jinan Children’s Welfare Center is just one of its kind in China, since there are many stretching across the entire country. I think that this is a facility we can replicate in Antigua & Barbuda in order to give our special needs and underprivileged children a firm grip on a brighter future. I enjoyed spending time with the children at the Jinan Children’s Welfare Center and my gifts to them were well received,” Mrs. Browne stated.

“I left there inspired by their warm hearts, creativity and overall drive for self improvement.  At one of the homes, the older children put on a little show for me which I thoroughly enjoyed – an unforgettable experience,” the First Lady concluded.

That same afternoon Prime Minister Browne visited a home for the aged, which he said is an excellent model for similar facilities in Antigua and Barbuda.

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