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Moms Wanted
Cover Stories Series 2012> Moms Wanted
UPDATED: May 28, 2012 NO. 22 MAY 31, 2012
Living a Life of Love
An SOS mother brings sunshine to the life of her children
By Wang Hairong

BIG FAMILY: Han Chunmei with her children at their home in the SOS Children's Village in Qiqihaer City, Heilongjiang Province, on November 17, 2011 (WANG KAI)

In 1991, Han Chunmei, then a petite 26-year-old worker in Qiqihaer City, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, learned that an SOS children's village had been set up in the city and was seeking mothers for orphan children living there. She applied and became the mother of eight children.

Now after bringing up 18 orphans, Han has proven to be a devoted mother.

"Over the past 21 years, I have learned a lot, and have grown up and toughened up together with my children," said Han, who remains single and does not have any children of her own.

Han studied education at a local open university, as well as receiving training in sewing, knitting and cooking. She likes to make warm and beautiful clothes for her children, and is famous in the SOS village for the big and white steamed bread she makes.

On weekends, Chinese mothers are usually busy chauffeuring their children to classes to cultivate their special skills. Han is no exception.

GROUP STUDY: Han's children do their homework as Han tutors (WANG KAI)

RIGOROUS TRAINING: Daughter Cui Lunyue plays Zheng, a traditional stringed instrument, while Han looks on (WANG KAI)

Her twin daughters Han Wei and Han Xiao, now third-year high school students, came to the family when they were 2 years old. When they were 6, Han began taking them to classes where they learned to play zheng and pipa, two traditional Chinese stringed instruments popular with girls.

"As orphans, when the children first came to the SOS village, they were not confident. I want them to develop talent in art so as to boost their confidence. Now, they are much more confident than before," Han said.

Han's children learned to play various musical instruments, painting and traditional Chinese calligraphy. On holidays, the family often holds a concert, with the children playing instruments, singing and dancing.

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