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Private foster home persists despite pressure


09:05, January 17, 2013


NANNING, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- For at least three months, Ban Aihua has tried to legalize her privately-run foster home, a humble shelter for 68 children.

However, her plea to register the home as a non-governmental charity agency has fallen on deaf ears. She is still waiting for official authorization to run a welfare home for orphans and other abandoned children in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The news of a deadly fire that killed seven people at an unlicensed orphanage in central China's Henan Province on Jan. 4 was particularly disturbing, Ban said.

"I'm in the same boat as the foster mother in Henan and may face similar risks," she said.

In the wake of the Henan fire, authorities began questioning Yuan Lihai, the "foster mother" who has reared more than 100 orphans over the past 26 years -- mostly ill or handicapped children who no one else wanted to adopt.

Ban said she was particularly sad to hear that Yuan, who struggled to earn a living for the kids by selling snacks, begging and applying for government subsidies, may face prosecution despite decades of efforts to make up for government inaction and provide for the children.

"Yuan is not alone," said Ban, 54, who lives with 68 children between the ages of 5 and 17 in a village in the city of Hechi.

In her younger days, Ban taught at a village school for four years. She later migrated to east China's Jiangxi Province, where she took temporary jobs, got married and settled down.

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