The Liveliest “Home” in the City Village
Every afternoon and every night, the second floor of the Community Service Center on DaLong Street in XinQiao Village in Guangzhou’s PanYu District teems with extra energy. At four in the afternoon, groups of children always drop by after school, huddling together in the Reading Room and laughing over a story book. When the clock strikes seven, the Community Service Center begins its nightly Story Meeting, where “Community Mothers” (volunteers from the city) will lead the children and some parents in fun storytelling and games. Many of these children often come over to play by themselves, waiting for their parents to pick them up after work. They are migrant children who have come to Guangzhou from rural hometowns with their parents, and this space they flock to in the second floor of the Community Service Center is known as “Xiao He’s Home”.
XinQiao Village is a village in the city, but it is also a classic migrant worker community. Spanning an area of 2.53 square kilometers, it houses over 26,000 migrant residents that make up over 80% of the community’s permanent population. The residents here mostly work in neighboring hardware-processing factories or manufacturing factories, but some also run family-owned workshops or stores. Many of these migrant workers are also parents– and like all parents, they wish to grow up alongside their children, so they bring their children to XinQiao to create a new life together.
These children go to school during the day, but their comings-and-goings after school are a source of constant headache for the residents. First, their parents often work long hours every day and subsequently cannot keep a close eye on their children. Keeping in mind the dated public facilities in the village and the complicated geographical features of the area, there are many hidden dangers that can put these children at risk of injury. Moreover, many parents also confess to not knowing how to spend quality time with their children.
Within the village, there is a community space operated by a social organization, and the second floor was originally an unused space with only the most basic facilities installed. After learning about the situation, the Harmony Community Foundation– an organization focused on improving migrant children’s education and social integration– immediately reached out to form an agreement regarding the use of this empty space. A passionate “Community Mother”, Liu CaiFang, served as the convener of “Xiao He’s Home”, hoping that the community could come together to provide a safe and friendly space for their children to grow up.
Habitat for Humanity China, with extensive experience in re-structuring and rebuilding migrant schools, decided to join in this initiative by supporting the space’s renovation project. The finished space was managed by the Harmony Community Foundation, and “Xiao He’s Home” was officially incorporated into the city’s education support program.
Since its completion in October 2018, Xiao He’s Home@XinQiao Village has already serviced to over 151 families in the community, and has allowed all mothers and fathers in the XinQiao Village to go to work with a peace of mind.
“Xiao He’s Home” is Habitat China’s first urban community project in Guangzhou. Upon seeing the wonderful reception it has received from children and their parents alike, it gives us great happiness and satisfaction to witness how much they love this new ‘Home’ ”.
– Chubb Cai, Project Officer, Habitat for Humanity China
The founder of “Xiao He’s Home”– the Harmony Community Foundation– has one wish. It hopes that all the migrant children living in Guanzhou’s villages can have a space like “Xiao He’s Home”. At time of writing, Guangzhou has 138 registered villages in the city.
The Harmony Community Foundation’s Community Development Director Huang Li states: “ ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, and “Xiao He’s Home” is a shared space for the community. Here, residents can come together to help one another, and launch community education projects for their children. At the same time, spaces such as these can allow the community to grow into a beautiful home that is suitable for everyone.”
The Harmony Community Foundation’s wish is also Habitat China’s wish.
After building Xiao He’s Home@XinQiao Village, Habitat China has supported the renovation of six other “Xiao He’s Home” projects, and has furthermore provided a standardized reconstruction plan. The “Standardized Reconstruction Plan for ‘Xiao He’s Home’ Indoor Support Space” was jointly drafted by all project partners of the XinQiao Village project during its renovation.
The drafted plan outlines how to create a space that is suitable for children to read and play after school whilst also accommodating any accompanying adults. This Plan also gives special consideration to the possibility that the community space will be ordered to relocate anytime, as is often the case in villages and industrial areas due to land acquisition, demolition, and landowners’ change of heart. As a result, the proposed facilities can be easily reinstalled to better facilitate any sudden moves.
We are pleased to announce that one new “Xiao He’s Home” is about to start renovations this month.
Children, especially groups of children that live in poverty, have always been a focus for Habitat China. We have participated in many renovations for migrant children kindergartens and schools. We have seen that “Xiao He’s Home” has become firmly rooted in many communities, and has brought significant change to these areas. We therefore hope to use our resources and expertise in space transformation to provide long-term support for the Harmony Community Foundation and the “Xiao He’s Home” project.
– Michael Chen, Program Lead, Habitat for Humanity China
Habitat for Humanity China and Children
A clean and healthy environment is the foundation for every child’s growth and wellbeing.
The issue of housing is closely related to children’s growth and development. Crowded houses can negatively affect children’s learning and educational success; poor housing and air quality can also increase their health risks. Habitat China is committed to creating living and study spaces that are suitable and safe for children in poverty in hopes that they can flourish.