Federation Officials Serve as 'Guardians' for 'Empty Nest' Elderly in Inner Mongolia

June 13, 2017
By Wang YongqinEditor: Rong Chen

Guardians and the elderly people they look after jointly attend a federation event in Chifeng. [China Women's News]


Chifeng Women's Federation in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region recently launched a guardianship scheme in order to take care of local elderly people.

The innovative initiative enables federation officials and volunteers to extend services to so-called "empty nest" residents, whose offspring are unable to look after them at home, often because they are away working in cities.

In the past two years, numerous local people in villages and communities have enjoyed being involved in the scheme, instead of getting stuck with feelings of loneliness or depression, said Yuan Wenying, president of Chifeng Women's Federation.

Meanwhile, the Chifeng Committee of Civilization honored the federation initiative as one of the city's Top 10 Best Voluntary Events of Learning named after Lei Feng, a historical role model, Yuan added.

Statistics reveal over 1,500 such guardians have established connections with 3,000 people through some 400 activities so far.

To be a candidate, a qualified guardian should follow six rules, said federation official Zhou Xuejun.

Zhou detailed the principles in terms of showing filial piety to their own elderly relatives; being kind-hearted in attending public events; having prestige in the village; being a local worker instead of a migrant worker; showing good communication skills; and, having experience in a liaison department to deal with paperwork for village committee or hospitals.

Voluntary Examples

Wang Fangying, 62, chose to live an isolated life after her spouse died in 2015.

The death took place several days prior to her daughter's marriage, leaving Wang in a state of huge depression. She was sad even whilst attending the wedding ceremony and whenever she saw anything relating to her husband.

In 2016, a local resident named Zhang Xiukun, who lived in the same community with Wang, began to frequently visit Wang's home and comforted her.

From chatting to shopping together, Wang managed to get rid of her miseries through the companionship of Zhang.

Nowadays, the two have became leaders in a local dancing team and together encouraged other residents to get involved in community activities, which are also part of the federation's initiative.

Businesswoman Rong Xiyan became a "guardian" for three elderly people in Shuiquan Village, Harqin Banner.

Rong took targeted assistive approaches in helping the elderly after having a clear understanding of their hobbies and personal conditions.

For example, she bought many tape recordings of Peking Opera as a gift to an elderly lady, who was particularly fond of this type of traditional Chinese play.

She also wrote the telephone numbers of the senior's frequent contacts in big fonts, after which she attached them on the wall so that the lady could read them clearly.

Relying on this helpful "guardian", many elderly people also chose to list Rong as their emergency contact person.

Comments from Grassroots Federation President

Guardians helped local elderly people enjoy their senior life and solve many living difficulties, said Yuan.

In return, officials and volunteers achieved a sense of value in helping others and further spreading such positive social ethos.

Yuan suggested other urban communities carry out the initiative as well, since it is a good example of showing the federation's organizational advantage and making use of local human resources.

The grassroots federation president believed there are four main reasons for its popularity.

These include the initiative's consistent assistance to the elderly and the federation's role as a platform to incorporate resources in organizing relevant activities.

Moreover, the grassroots federation has set strict work principles in guiding officials to fulfill their job responsibilities during the event. They also share experience at regular sessions in order to better serve people.

Guardians say they have built a sense of pride in extending care to the elderly and improved their work capabilities as well, Yuan concluded.

(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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