Charity that's more than just a song and dance routine
Updated: 2013-01-23 10:39
By Liu Jun (China Daily)
On one of this winter's coldest nights, we ignored the glittering merchandise and headed straight for the other end of the supermarket, where my son's school, the SMIC Private School of Beijing, was holding a charity performance.
"Hurry up! It's my classmates performing Gangnam Style!" my son cried out to the boom of music and disappeared into the crowd. I had to elbow past several idle onlookers before catching a glimpse of the stage.
A dozen girls were doing their own version of the Korean song and dance, arguably the most popular global hit of the past year. They looked very professional in their scarlet tight-fitting skirts, with thick eye makeup more befitting women twice their age.
My son popped up again and said we had missed the dance by his second-grade class.
Over the past two months, he had been watching his classmates rehearsing and picked up a few quasi-Korean words, humming "wo, wo, wo", even at breakfast.
We had tried to enlist our son in the show, one of the school's biggest annual events. He has an extra-curricular kung fu class, and we suggested to the coach that a kung fu stunt would "stun" the audience.
Somehow, that didn't work out.
Then, the school asked for volunteers to sell postcards, calendars and photo frames the students had made. We eagerly registered, only to hear the school was concerned for the safety of the first and second graders. So, the only option left for participation was to buy something.
Some parents and students were hawking balloons near the crammed stage. Nowhere could we find the postcard our son had drawn.
"Take this - only 10 yuan ($1.60)," said a mother, placing a blue balloon tied to create a hat on my son's head. The little customer weighed over the choices, and decided on the balloon.
I pulled out a 10-yuan note and asked him to pay. I should have given him 20 or 50 yuan to give him a chance to sharpen his math. The amount of money doesn't matter, anyway. What's important is that he could help others.
On stage, a choir of 30 had finished three songs in Chinese and English. The conductor, a devoted woman in her 50s, had every reason to be proud of her students across the grades and octaves - and the globe, as this is an international school.
The final show came as a pleasant surprise. Four teenage girls wearing Tibetan long dresses with rainbow-colored aprons danced to a lively song. They came from the school for orphans and homeless children called Beijing Guang'ai (Light and Love) Children's Home, for which this charity event was held.
We didn't see any children from Guang'ai at last year's event. It was good to finally see them, and they danced with such talent.
Guang'ai's founder Shi Qinghua thanked the children, parents and teachers at the end of the show. Over the past decade, he had provided hundreds of homeless children with shelter, food and basic education.
He had had to move the school many times, and he spent most of his time seeking support, teachers and vocational schools so the older children could become independent.
As we lingered in the mall and debated which kind of pizza to order, I couldn't get my mind off the four girls and their haggard headmaster.
Would they have a hot meal that night? Would the nearly 100 children at Guang'ai have enough heating to get through this long, cruel winter?
The weekend event collected some 88,500 yuan by selling more than 870 postcards, 500 New Year paintings and 600 balloons, the school says.
This might not be much, but I believe my son and his classmates will walk into the New Year with memories of not only performing a popular song but also doing something much more important.