THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS POST ARE NOT THOSE OF VSO
Ever since I arrived in Xi’an, the organisation I work for, Shaanxi Western Development Foundation, has been working towards the Rainbow Night. This is a fund-raising/disability awareness raising event that has taken place over the last three years. It has taken me a while to understand exactly what was happening but all was revealed on 22nd December when the event was held.
During the day, the two VSO volunteers were sent to make jiaozi (dumplings) at a local home for special needs children. This was to show that we all work as a team for the benefit of SEN children but it was also the Winter Solstice, when one should eat jiaozi to stop one’s hair from falling out. As there were only meat fillings and I’m vegetarian, I’m expecting the worst. There are multiple layers of meaning for so many things here in China. Needless to say much of it passes me by.
We were not the only celebrities at the home. A local beauty queen arrived to be photographed with the children and the laowi (foreigners). The paparazzi were there in force as well but I’m now getting used to the importance of the media here in China. The Beauty Queen was to show up later at the evening event and apparently this is a common practice in fund raising events. I guess it shows that they are doing something worthwhile during their beauty reign. (See photos at end.)
Now to the evening performance. A large theatre was hired for the event and my organisation was responsible for the everything but the show. The theatre was beautifully decorated. People sat at round tables piled high with fruit, cakes and drinks. The event was live on Weibo, the Chinese social networking site, and again the paparazzi were everywhere. Special Needs pupils from local NGOs sat for hours waiting for the show to begin. The opening speeches went on for ages but it was important to thank various corporations for their support. Certificates were presented to the worthy and then the show began.
I’m not sure how I feel about using people with SEN on stage with ordinary actors but this was to raise awareness about special needs. The show was rather cheesy with lots of love and rainbows as well as a troupe of little dancers, clearly without special needs. Actually, it was good to see so many Down Syndrome pupils enjoying themselves on stage. They do like acting, as those of you who remember Sian Fouladi will know. The evening concluded with various items for auction being carried in by a pupil with special needs and accompanied of course by, yes, you’ve got it, the Beauty Queen.
I’m not sure how much money was raised and I’m not sure that I ever will. I was told that it’s as important to put on these events and be seen at them, as it is to raise money. Now that the hype of the event is over, I’m hoping that we might get back to the job in hand. In other words, concentrating on the reason why I’m here!
Click on the link to see the photos of the evening. Can you spot the official beauty?