Photograph brings brothers back to the nursery

China Welfare Institute released 26 photos of children at its institutions set up by Soong Ching-ling to solicit clues to find them and celebrate its 80th anniversary.
Photograph brings brothers back to the nursery
Ti Gong

Brothers Zhang Gongqiang (left) and Zhang Ziqiang revisit the China Welfare Institute Nursery, their temporary childhood home, on Friday. The pair were invited back after being identified in an old picture with CWI founder Soong Ching-ling.

Photograph brings brothers back to the nursery
Ti Gong

Soong Ching-ling looks at babies during a visit to the China Welfare Institute Nursery in 1951. The three sitting on the right are the Zhang triplets.

Two former residents of the China Welfare Institute (CWI) Nursery returned to the child-care center over the weekend. The pair are brothers — two of a set of triplets — who lived in the nursery more than half a century ago.

Their return was made possible after the CWI issued photos of children at the nursery and other CWI organizations.

The photos were released on Friday as part of events marking the 80th anniversary of the CWI, an institution established by Soong Ching-ling. In her lifetime, Soong was a prominent philanthropist and political figure. Many of the organizations she founded promoted child welfare under the CWI umbrella. These included a children’s theater, a hospital for mothers and children, a children’s publishing house, and the nursery mentioned above.

Those shown were invited to make contact with its representatives.

Soon after the photos were released, a local man named Zhang Xin called the institute, saying his father and uncle were in one photo showing Soong with four sets of triplets at the CWI Nursery in 1951.

“My father has been telling of his experience in the nursery since I was a child and we also had some related photos ...” said Zhang Xin. “So when I saw the news on TV, I recognized the photo immediately and called the organization.”

The institute then contacted the two brothers and arranged a visit to the nursery on Saturday.

“It’s great to see our bedroom again on the second floor of the dorm building,” said 68-year-old Zhang Ziqiang, father of Zhang Xin and the youngest of the triplets. “All the three of us lived there for five years.”

He said that his family was poor and his parents already had three children before them, so they were sent to the nursery soon after they were born. “The nursery looked after us very carefully ...” said Zhang. “We lived there for five years, until our family took us back home.”

After returning to their family, the eldest brother Zhang Guoqiang was adopted by their childless uncle. Guoqiang died several years ago. Zhang Gongqiang and Zhang Ziqiang went to Heilongjiang Province under a program encouraging young people to support rural development. Ziqiang returned to Shanghai after his retirement.

“We have been grateful to Madame Soong and CWI throughout our lives,” Zhang Ziqiang told Shanghai Daily. “Without them, we might have died during childhood.”

About 20 people in the photos released by CWI have contacted the institute.

To see all of the recently released photos, you can visit the institute’s WeChat account. Anyone with clues message the institute’s WeChat account or call 021-64333704.

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