In Shanghaiist’s new Philanthropist feature, we highlight individuals and groups doing interesting things to make the world a little bit of a better place. This week we talk to the organizers of the 8th Annual Charity Carnival.
Size: Around 20 women, changes every year
Cause: Providing surgery and medical care to Chinese children with congenital heart defects.
Helped: 32 children and counting!
Every year, a group of women get together to plan a day of fun, games and charity. Called the Annual Charity Carnival, it’s a unique event that allows families with young children to come out, have a great time, while donating money to a worthy cause.
The organizers of this carnival don’t come from a huge corporation, government organization, or foundation – rather, they’re the same mothers, housewives and neighbors you’d meet in any of the expat complexes around Shanghai; ones who saw a cause that needed attention and decided to get together and do something about it.
We sat down with two representatives from the ladies, Michelle Teope-Shen and Ellen Chan, to talk about the Charity Carnival, how it all got started and the cause itself.
The Annual Charity Carnival has been hosted at the Millennium Hongqiao for the past three years. Children of all ages have free entrance to the carnival and tickets are available in family packages. There are games, prizes, performances, shopping and the chance to meet new people. In addition, each year there is a range of raffles and a live auction. In the past seven years the carnival has been able to help 32 children thanks to these sponsors and an enthusiastic crowd of attendees.
The carnival raises money to help children who suffer from congenital heart defects (CHD). It was founded at the turn of the millennium (in 2000) and each year, around 20 women gather together to plan, organize and run the one-day event. This year’s carnival, which falls on November 8, will be the 8th time they’ve done it.
Last year’s carnival was a rousing success – about 900 people attended and the ladies were able to help 11 kids. They’re hoping for something similar this time around.
Congenital heart disease/defects (CHD) is a defect in the structure of a newborn’s heart or blood vessels. Heart defects are the most common form of birth defect and can manifest themselves in several different ways, though the majority of defects either obstruct the flow of blood or make it so that blood flows abnormally in the heart. Children born with a CHD can experience shortness of breath, tire easily, and have undeveloped body and limbs, amongst other symptoms.
Where:Millennium Hongqiao, 2588 Yan An Xi Road上海市延安西路2588号
Starts: Sunday, November 8, 10:30AM to 4PM
Cover: 60RMB (presale) 80RMB (at door); Family package (2 adults, 3 raffle): 200RMB; Raffle tickets: 50RMB each; Children get in free
The goal of the carnival is to raise 300,000RMB to pay for surgery for at least six children (ranging from infant to teens). Surgery costs can range from 30,000RMB to all the way up to 60,000RMB per child, a hefty cost for most of the families with these children, especially when one parent is forced to remain home to take care of the sick child.
The organization is entirely volunteer-based, Teope-Shen and Chan explained, and the team includes women from Colombia, Malaysia, France, Germany, Singapore, United States, Philippines, among other locales. The ladies work with the Shanghai Children’s Foundation to locate kids that need help and to generate awareness for the cause. After getting the names and meeting the children, all who suffer from a number of life-threatening versions of CHD, the work begins.
Planning for the carnival begins in March, and things really get into full swing about two months before the event. But there’s still work to be done after the carnival ends. The money is counted, the ladies determine how many families they can sponsor and in February, a big lunch is thrown when the children’s surgeries have been completed and the women and the families they’ve sponsored can meet again.
Teope-Shen and Chan said that this was the most rewarding part: Being able to see children who were barely able to move just a few months ago now running and playing like normal kids fills you with an indescribable joy. It reminds them of why all the time and energy they devoted to this cause is worth it.