FEATURE | “PAPA LI”
Recently our Changsha Area Manager, Li Ming, was voted “Most influential charity worker” in Changsha.
The annual charity event invites local communities to vote for their favourite organisation and person through WeChat, the popular social media platform. Known to the children as “Papa Li”, Li received over 30,000 public votes, coming first in the “Most Influential Charity Workers” category.
From Volunteer to Full-time staff
20 years ago, Li worked for a state-owned enterprise and had the opportunity to volunteer at our care centre. He came to know a child who was born with a disability that affected his legs. He noticed that the child’s condition improved greatly through therapy. On his last day as a volunteer, this child called out to him and said, “Daddy, my legs, I can separate them!”
“I was deeply moved by what happened,” said Li. He thought about how his daughter was well-loved, and yet this child did not have any family of his own. Li then left his job to join ICC as an office manager. He spent the next five years working at the care centre.
In 2007, he left the ICC Care Centre because he needed to earn a higher income. During this time, the children missed him and would phone to ask when he would visit them.
“They said I used to come and see them all the time and asked me why I’ve stopped coming.” Li missed the children and knew that he was needed back at the care centre. So he returned a little over a year later and joined ICC’s vocational training project, Flowers in the Desert.
Growing with the Children
During his time with ICC, Li’s role evolved from administration to working with children in the craft room, to where he is now, as the Changsha Area Manager, looking after the Changsha Care Centre and running local projects. Over the years, he has gotten to know the children and watched them grow into young adults.
Celebrating Christmas with Gui at ICC’s Community Group Home
“When they were little, they yearned to know their sponsorship parents. They are always excited when they see visitors,” he said. Li believes these relationships are essential in shaping the children’s overall development. “As they grow older, once they feel loved, they want to give that love back to others.”
“There’s a young boy in the care centre who wanted to have contact with his sponsored family. Every Spring festival, he would run out of the care centre. He knew it was a time when families get together and wanted to do the same, to be with his family. So after he turned 16, during the annual Spring Festival holiday, we gave him some time to spend with his sponsored family.” Li noted the encouragement this gave to the child.
“Because he knew he was loved, his worldview began to change.”
“The child was aware of the love that he received, and now that his needs were met, he began to ask deeper questions: ‘What makes life worth living? Can I do something for others?’”
Li has seen firsthand how ICC’s work can transform children’s lives. “Another young man is working at our vocational training centre. As soon as he started earning an income, he decided to use the money to sponsor a child at our organisation. Every month, he would give a portion of his earnings to support his friend at the care centre.”
Annual Sports Day at the Changsha Care Centre
Li plans to work at the care centre until he retires and will continue volunteering to look after the children. “We just want to serve these children, like our founder when he first arrived in China.”
“Li Ming has a big heart of compassion towards people, and he has invested his life in serving others. He has been like a father to the children, giving up his time to mentor the young people, and help them in both their character growth and their day-to-day needs.”
– Kyla Alexander, China Operations Director.