society

Senior people provide free care services for unattended children after school

A program, under which senior people living alone take care of students who are not their grandchildren while the parents are still at work, has proved useful both in relieving the pressure of working parents and reducing loneliness of senior people.

The charity program was initiated by a neighborhood in Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan province. Besides picking up the students after school, the senior people also cook dinner for them and help them with homework. All services are not charged.

Senior people take care of children whose parents are still at work. (Photo/Chengdu.cn)

Yang Qiong, founder of the project, said the idea came from a personal experience of hers. The 33-year-old community worker has two children who would be unattended after school when she and her husband were still at work. One day, she asked a senior cleaner in her community to take care of the children and found that the three had a good time together.

“With both parents at work, some children become unattended after school, and some would even fall asleep on fitness facilities in our community while doing homework,” Yang said, disclosing that several senior people told her that they wanted to do something for the community. Considering that many of the senior people may feel bored living alone, she decided to give the idea a try.

After doing a rough calculation, she learned that 40 percent of students in the neighborhood were unattended after school, and their parents strongly hoped that this problem could be solved. When she proposed the project in July 2019, senior people actively applied for the job. In the end, more than 20 female seniors with plenty of free time, who were physically and mentally healthy and willing to help, joined the project.

According to Yang, the female seniors take care of 30 to 40 children a day, providing services such as picking them up after school and helping them do homework. The community also arranged volunteers to help the senior people with the work.

A senior person surnamed Zhang, who lives alone, was the first to sign up for the project. “Though I’m old, I still want to do things for the community within my capabilities,” she said, adding that she has become happier after joining the program.

Families receiving help have repaid the goodwill with greater kindness by visiting the senior people, buying vegetables and cooking dinners for them during the weekends. 

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