Government Shuts Down Home for Orphans in Henan

The authorities closed down a charitable institution for children because it was established and run by Christians from abroad.

Last month, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities shut down the Xinmi Welfare Home, House of Mercy, a home for orphans in Xinmi city in Henan Province, set up by the US-based Christian activist, Jane Marcum, the founder of Sino-American Nonprofit Cooperative Services (SANCS). The reason for the closing – “foreign entities using religion as a means of infiltration.”

Mrs. Marcum opened her first orphanage in Xinmi for eight children in 1996, with the support and approval by the local government. In October 1999, after other small orphanages set up by Mrs. Marcum had been successfully functioning for a few years, the House of Mercy was built with the donations from the US and the Chinese government. Since then, more than 180 orphans had found refuge at the house, and her charitable work has been reported in local and international media. Over 70,000 USD has been spent on running and maintaining the house since the day it was opened.

The demand by the local authorities to close down the House of Mercy has come as a shock to its 50 residence and staff. They were given the final decision after Ms. Li and Mr. Zhao, the head and his deputy at the orphanage appointed by the state, respectively, were called in for a meeting at the Xinmi City Civil Affairs Bureau on July 18. Back from the meeting, they announced that the home had been ordered to close down; all the children had to leave, or their subsistence allowances provided by the state would be canceled.

The campaign to shut down the home has been underway for a while. Since January, Mrs. Marcum has been negotiating with the local Civil Affairs Bureau to renew the home’s contract but was refused the help on account of her being a foreign citizen.

When Mrs. Marcum found out the orphanage would be closed down, she went to consult with the Civil Affairs Bureau again, explaining that she would be willing to stop taking in new orphans, but that she hoped the children already there could complete their nine years of compulsory education. The Civil Affairs Bureau rejected her request.

Mrs. Marcum was heartbroken that the work she and her colleagues have been doing for more than 20 has been so abruptly stopped. On July 20, she went to the House of Mercy for a final group photo and last meal with the children.

Of the 50 orphans who lived at the house, many had nowhere to go. A staff member has tried to contact the mass media but was threatened by the director.

On July 28, thirteen of the 50 orphans aged under 18 were temporarily sent to the Yuanzhuang Township Welfare Center. As per internal reports, while the center looks great on the surface, the children often went hungry due to the lack of food. Some of these children have run away from the center and returned to the now disbanded home.

Government Shuts Down Home for Orphans in Henan
House of Mercy
Government Shuts Down Home for Orphans in Henan
Panoramic view of the House of Mercy
Government Shuts Down Home for Orphans in Henan
A room in the House of Mercy after its closure
Government Shuts Down Home for Orphans in Henan
Notification from the Civil Affairs Bureau to close down the House of Mercy
Government Shuts Down Home for Orphans in Henan
A photo of Jane Marcum with children at the orphanage

Source: BITTER WINTER / Jiang Tao