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COCOA logoCreated during the public outcry caused by the documentary The Dying Rooms, COCOA aims to improve conditions for infants and children in China’s state run orphanages.

In June 1995 the documentary The Dying Rooms first transmitted on television. The programme exposed the terrible conditions and systematic neglect of abandoned children and babies in China’s state-run orphanages.

The film, screened in over 37 countries caused such an outcry that China threatened a serious diplomatic incident if it continued to be shown. However since 1995 there have been great changes in how orphaned children are treated many of which have been attributed to the pressure the film caused.

In 19979 China implemented its one child policy, at that time female children were already seen as a burden because as would go to live in their husband’s household leaving their families alone when they became old.

This led many families to abandon female and handicapped children in order to have able bodied sons to support them in later life .For the orphaned children this meant life in a state run orphanage at the mercy of the staff and government.

The Dying Rooms uncovered the horrific conditions that these children were subject to including babies whose hands and feet had been eaten by rats, and an actual dying room where an unwanted baby girl had been left ten days earlier to die through neglect and starvation.

Orphaned Chinese babyThe backlash from the film pushed charities such as Amnesty International and Save the Children into action, and is credited with the United Nations taking a stricter stance against China. The film also led to the creation of a dedicated charity The Dying Rooms Trust that later became COCOA.

Since 1995 COCOA has seen huge changes in China’s policies, they country is starting to learn to trust western charities that are working in its orphanages and now positively welcomes help from some sources. China also changed its adoption laws in 2000 so now married couples with or without a child of their own can adopt, the adoption age has been lowered to 30 and fostering schemes are finally being introduced.

The situation in China’s orphanages is however still far from satisfactory. COCOA funds many projects such as sponsoring children awaiting adoption, funding medical treatment for handicap children increasing their chances for adoption, providing play and learning equipment, staff training and funding baby units with special provision for children with disabilities.

COCOA has a wide selection of fundraising events opportunities from sponsored events such as walks, bike rides and or even room tidying. You can get a sponsorship form [here]. If that sounds too much like hard work why not organize a social event such as a quiz night or Community Channel’s favourite, a wine tasting evening.

For the more adventurous among you they have also teamed up with Charity Challenge who have thirty different challenges including a walk along the Great Wall of China.
If you are interested in the trip of a lifetime while helping China’s orphans email COCOA at: .

Watch The Director’s Cut: The Dying Rooms on Friday February 17 at 9.00pm on Community Channel.





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