How a shy kid broke out of his shell
Story of Child-Friendly Spaces
Seven-year-old Xiaohua lives in a village in Dianjiang County, Chongqing in Southwest China. When his father died of a disease four years ago, his mother left him with his grandparents, both in their 70s. A lack of parental care coupled with an impoverished upbringing made this boy introverted and timid. But things started to change for Xiaohua at a Child-Friendly Space jointly supported by UNICEF and the Office of the National Working Committee on Children and Women.
When Xiaohua’s father fell ill, his family spent most of their savings to treat his father. Today, Xiaohua’s grandpa is ailing and can not do much farm work.
Xiaohua’s companions at home are the family dog and several ducks, which he helps to feed.
“Once in a while, he asks about his parents. After we tell him his father passed away and his mother left, he gets upset and hides in the corner crying,”
Although the grandparents tried their best to take care of Xiaohua, it is still quite challenging.
They are illiterate, so they cannot help him with his homework. And they don’t know how to comfort him when he is upset.
Learning the situation of Xiaohua’s family, the Child-Friendly Space staff entered Xiahua into the children's database so that his case can be closely monitored, and notified the local government about his vulnerability. Related government departments therefore provided Xiaohua’s family with dibao, a minimum living allowance issued by the government on a monthly basis. Now the family is able to make their ends meet with Xiaohua’s dibao and the grandfather’s subsidy.
Staff at the Child-Friendly Space have also been continuously monitoring the boy’s needs and progress.
Xiaohua was so shy that he didn’t dare go to the Child-Friendly Space at first. With encouragement from the Child-Friendly Space staff, the boy started to visit the centre more frequently, and has gradually come to embrace the activities and is learning to have fun.
Every day after school, Xiaohua comes to the Child-Friendly Space to play with his favourite toys, read picture books, and join other children in playing.
Xiaohua likes stories about dinosaurs the most. Although he still cannot read all the stories himself, he uses his imagination to tell the stories.
“When he first came in, he was very quiet, but now he is much outgoing and happier around other children,”
Xiaohua and a Child-Friendly Space staff member use sesame and millet to paint a pumpkin.
Handicrafts made from fruits and vegetables by Xiaohua and other children are on display at the Child-Friendly Space.
The Child-Friendly Space has become Xiaohua’s favourite place, and he never skips an activity.
He is always reluctant to leave when the Child-Friendly Space closes, and sometimes comes to the centre before it opens during the holidays.
The experience at the Child-Friendly Space makes Xiaohua a happier child. Like other children, he has many dreams – becoming an inventor and becoming “a superhero to help others”.