The situation is familiar throughout China. The children have been abandoned, and their caretakers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, cannot support them financially or emotionally. In some cases, family tragedy took the lives of both parents, in others, Chinese social customs created a situation in which a mother had to leave the child for a new husband and a new life.
The conditions inside China’s orphanages are often inhumane and appalling. As a result, international and domestic charities, such as China’s Amity Foundation, work to keep abandoned children out of the orphanage system, preferring instead to provide the financial assistance to make it possible for orphans to live with their relatives or other guardians in their home villages. As they age, it becomes more difficult to support the children; the costs of school, clothing, and food overreach the meager income from work on a collective farm. Although charities have not yet begun supporting the children in these pictures, their need has been recorded and, if money can be raised, the process of assistance will begin. Though only two hundred dollars a year per child is enough to keep them out of China’s orphanages, the road ahead remains a difficult one.