Guan Ren Community holds an International Charity Festival in June, 2018 (COURTESY PHOTO)
When Smita’s son was chased around by an irate dog, she was both relieved and moved to see how the people from her neighborhood ran out to drive the dog away and soothe the little boy.
“People in Xiamen go out of their way to help you. Literally,” said the Indian entrepreneur who relocated to the port city in southeast China’s Fujian Province in 2012 to run a shoe manufacturing business with her husband.
It’s the warmth of the people and the foreign investment-friendly policies of the local government that made her become a volunteer at the Guan Ren Community, a special effort by the authorities to settle in new arrivals to the city and make them feel at harmony with the residents. “I want to give back to the place that has given us so much,” she said.
Started in the mid-1980s, the Guan Ren Community Center provides interactive programs for newcomers, both foreigners and Chinese from other cities, a helping hand when they need it, and a feeling of community and home.
“Guan Ren is a platform to help,” said Zuzana Pavlonova, a Czech student who enrolled at Xiamen University to study Chinese three years ago. Like Smita, she too doesn’t regret the decision.
“If I need to go to hospital or find an apartment, I know I can always find help here,” the 26-year-old said with a smile. “I am fluent in Chinese no doubt but for some things, you need a Chinese approach.”, and offers classes on judo, Chinese cuisine and even rudiments of traditional Chinese medicine to all residents.
The center provides Chinese lessons to foreigners, teaches English to the children of Chinese migrant workers.
The center also organizes legal assistance and hold regular seminars with visa officers and other authorities on subjects important to foreigners. And all this is free.
Once every month, it also holds a charity bazar. The proceeds go to either individual families or organizations like schools in need.
When an earthquake devastated Nepal in 2013, this little community organized assistance for the quake victims.
The volunteers also contribute innovative ideas. One example is the flourishing rooftop garden that is the center’s pride.
“Xiamen is an environmentally conscious city and people here want to sort out their garbage for recycling,” said Angelo Nt, a 48-year-old businessman who is from Taiwan.
“So we stared the garden to demonstrate how to recycle kitchen waste. This way, everybody learns to recycle and also benefit by eating safe food since agricultural products often have too much of chemicals. It’s a step toward creating a beautiful life.”
（Reporting from Xiamen）
Comments to email@example.com