Hong Kong cinema legend Maggie Cheung (张曼玉) played celebrity fairy godmother recently, visiting disabled children at a child welfare facility in the Sichuanese city of Yibin (宜宾). The Macau-born actress (who has ancestral roots in Shanghai) played with the kids and helped them through their regular daily routine, as part of her role as the UNICEF Ambassador to China.
The 47-year-old Cheung has been in few films since 2004, when she won Best Actress at Cannes for her turn as a heroin-addicted wife in Clean (directed by her former husband Olivier Assayas). Instead, she’s turned her focus towards philanthropy and other projects in recent years.
Maggie had this to say about her trip to Sichuan:
Because these children didn’t choose to be born this way. That’s just a situation handed to them by fate. The few minutes that I get to be with them, I can bring them a smile, bring them a happiness, a memory. Bring them an, ‘Ah, someone cares, someone came to visit’, and that they’re not ignored by people.
I think every child needs to be loved and cared about. They don’t understand whether they’re eating well or not. The most important thing is to let them know that they’re not unwanted. Warmth is important. If they have that, then they’ll have a better chance at living life with a better attitude.
The challenge that disabled children have to deal with is twofold. Besides their physical disabilities, they’re also discriminated against by society…so the warmth in their homes is the most important. The pressure on the parents is great, so the most important thing to do for people on the sidelines is to support these parents, and to give these kids love and care. And to let them be a person with rights and equal opportunities in society.
I’m not an angel. I don’t think I can do anything too big. I’m doing what I can. But when I’m with them, I really want to give them something they’ll remember.
Though endorsing charitable causes is the norm in other entertainment industries, the trend is still yet to reach critical mass in China, with most celebs still just happy to cash a paycheck after doing the hard work of smiling next to products.
So it warms our cockles to see a video like this, which helps to not only raise awareness about the plight of disabled kids, but serves as an advertisement for how to be compassionate.
For more information on UNICEF’s efforts in China, click here.