Artist adds color at children's home

Xu Lingchao
Orphans enjoy a special lesson from Israeli artist who is a fan of Chinese culture and eager to brighten the lives of orphans in Shanghai.
Xu Lingchao

Shanghai Children’s Home residents had a special lesson on Thursday from Sarit Shay, an artist from Haifa in Israel who came to their class for a painting tutorial.

The home is the only welfare institution in the city dedicated to orphans aged under 18.

The 12 children who attended the class were all mentally or physically handicapped and some of them have been abandoned by their parents as infants.

Shay is a Chinese culture aficionado. She got her MA in Chinese Studies at Haifa University and first visited China just five years ago. Shay now knows China well enough to even help out people at Metro stations.

Under a joint effort by the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau and the Israeli Consulate of Shanghai, Shay first came to the children’s home in September. “I like children for their innocence and pureness,” she said. “I don’t have a child, these kids here have no parents, but I’m willing to give them as much love as I can.”

Artist adds color at children's home
Dong Jun / SHINE

Israeli artist Sarit Shay shows a painting to orphans at Shanghai Children's Home on Thursday.

In the tutorial, Shay taught the children how to draw a mouse, not the ordinary kind but a mouse with a human body. Shay said that as next year is the Year of the Mouse, she selected the mouse as it represents the near future.

“Something for the kids to look forward to,” she said.

All the children were thrilled about all the crayons with different colors Shay had brought along and her interesting stories.

Taotao, a 10-year-old boy who uses a wheelchair because of hemiplegia, paralysis to one side of his body, drew a mouse cheering in front of a house and a car, with bees and butterflies all around.

“The weather is good today, I want the little mouse to enjoy the beautiful day as well,” he said.

Shay can speak some Chinese and with her body language, the kids understood her just fine.

A girl Yanyan named her mouse Joseph and started singing after finished drawing while the others chanted.

“It is really important for me that when the kids said they want to see me again, they mean it,” said an emotional Shay.

Shay said she is planning to work with Haifa University to launch an exchange program that allows Israeli students to study in Shanghai.

“If the program finally works out,” she said. “I’ll make sure the exchange students volunteer here at least once a month.”

The Israeli consulate said this was the first time an Israeli artist had organized a charity event in Shanghai. The consulate will seek further opportunities to organize more events as for the children.

Yuan Fanglai, director of the orphanage, said the majority of the children cannot go to an ordinary school. The home opened a special school for them.

“Each social worker or teacher is responsible for two kids, we teach them abilities to communicate and basic life skills,” said Yuan.

Yuan said the children never had the chance to embrace love from their parents, but different events and games were organized to make them feel at home.

“It is good to see more and more people paying more attention to these kids,” Yuan said. “We hope with our effort, they can live a comfortable life and be happy.”

Artist adds color at children's home
Dong Jun / SHINE

A girl looks at a painting Sarit Shay displayed during her tutorial at Shanghai Children's Home.

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