The Red Cross Society of China has launched a charity campaign called “Philanthropic Messenger”, under which 10 million yuan ($1.63 million) will be used mainly to help underprivileged children left behind by their parents or suffering major diseases in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the Tibet autonomous region and in Yunnan, Guizhou and Gansu provinces.
Previous reports said China has more than 610 million left-behind children in rural areas whose parents went to cities in search of better job opportunities and pay.
The funding for the latest Red Cross project came from a mobile donation outlet under the Red Cross where the public can donate via text messages, according to Song Yi, head of the society’s general office.
“Coming from the general public, the donations will go back to help the people as well, particularly the children in need,” Song said at the formal project launch on Tuesday.
Under the project, 150 child care centers will be set up within a year in designated areas, benefiting nearly 50,000 children.
Services and programs promoting children’s health, mental health counseling and art education, as well as a family reunion summer camp, will be provided at the centers, according to Sun Shuopeng, director-general of the Red Cross Poverty Alleviation and Development Center.
Meanwhile, a one-time cash donation will be given to help poor children suffering from major illnesses.
In addition, a child-assistance package that includes education, life and health-preservation supplies will be distributed to poor children, he said.
Song said that the mobile text-messaging donation platform, which was launched in 2006, has so far garnered 270 million yuan in donations from more than 60 million donors.
The money has been used in humanitarian projects, including disaster relief and reconstruction after the Wenchuan and Yushu earthquakes, he said.
For its relief efforts in the wake of the latest earthquake, which jolted Ludian, Yunnan province, on Aug 3, the Red Cross has received donations worth more than 318 million yuan as of Aug 21 - the most among the 10 Chinese non-governmental organizations registered at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, according to a notice on the ministry’s website.
The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation came in second, with more than 101 million yuan in donations, the ministry said.
Baktiar Mambetov, acting head of the East Asia regional delegation of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that was “a good indicator of the Red Cross Society of China’s regaining its reputation in the country”.
The society had received some criticism last year for the way it allocated some donations.