Monthly Archives: December 2014

China Diaries – Day 7

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Lions often guard the entrance to Chinese buildings to ward off evil spirits. Look at their front feet to determine their gender – females will have a paw resting on a baby, whilst the male will have a ball under his paw.  In Chinese symbolism, dragons signify males and the phoenix, a female.



Today we visited  a shopping district compriP1030253 (Small)sing narrow lanes bordering a lake. It was picturesque and the shop prices were quite reasonable. We bought some fans and chopsticks.




P1030265 (Small)After the shops we toured the Olympic village and used the “bird’s nest” stadium as an iconic backdrop to our photos.

There are 4 treasures of Chinese national culture – opera, calligraphy, panda and kung fu.

We later headed to a community project run by Amy Zhou’s “Young Zen Foundation”, a not for profit social enterprise. The project runs in a community centre in a district of Beijing. We caught the lift to the first floor, walked along the corridor where we welcomed into a large bright room where children were engaged in a parachute game, joined by grandparents and some parents.

P1030281 (Small)The project provides a programme of activities focused on physical and language development. Amy uses charitable funding to pay for rental, salaries and resources. The model has been “franchised” to enable it to be replicated across China. There is a defined kit of resources with a specified set of activities, procedures and desired outcomes. As well as providing development activities for the children, the programme educates carers – uneducated relatives (typically grandparents) of the children of migrants, in the principles and methods.  

Recognised as fulfilling a need within the vast challenge of child development for migrant worker families, the foundation has attracted government attention and support. Amy is a charismatic social entrepreneur in the new China and looks destined to expand her activities far and wide. Her enthusiasm, passion, commitment and optimism is infectious. She had recently returned from a visit with Hilary Clinton, so reasonably well connected then! – apart from being one of June O’Sullivan’s contacts.

Tomorrow we fly to Xhiang, location of the Terracotta Warriors. 

Christmas Thought

I just had to include this morning’s email exchange between a kind and thoughtful donor and one of our managers, as my thought for Christmas –

Dear X,

I am sorry I missed you when you dropped into the nursery earlier.  I just wished to thank you for the kind donation of Christmas Books.

The children here love listening to stories with the staff, and we will ensure these books are looked after and cherished by further generations of children who will be able to experience the wonder of Christmas through the beautiful illustrations within them.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Thank you once again.


Dear Manager,

As I explained when I stopped today, over the years, as my children grew up I have collected these copies of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ . We carried on the tradition of me reading our ragged copy to the children on Christmas Eve each year. The last was when my youngest was 35! Our copy is threadbare and I have lost count of the new copies I have given to other families and children. I only ask the child to choose someone they love to read it to them. Knowing children, you won’t be surprised there is no guessing who they choose. Some have even had it repeated by several.

I am now ‘Downsizing’ and must part with my collection. Looking for a new home, I could not have chosen a better place than the meeting place for young people. You are welcome to share copies with other Paint Pots or Parents. I hope you and they too will establish a nursery and or family tradition.

With my best wishes for Paint Pots and Christmas