Day 19: visit to the Shanghai Yodak Cardiac-Thoracic Hospital

The Choir had a free morning before visiting the Shanghai Yodak Cardiac-Thoracic Hospital in the afternoon. The first non-profit hospital in China, the Shanghai Yodak Cardiac-Thoracic Hospital specialises in diagnosing and treating Cardiac and thoracic disease, with patients travelling from all over China for treatment.

The Choir began their visit to the hospital with a warm welcome from the Hospital staff and the Heart to Heart volunteers. Choir leader Philip Mathias responded to the welcome speeches in Mandarin before proceeding in English translated into Mandarin by Choir member Josie Tam. The Choir then sang several songs including a new Mandarin song titled ‘Mother is the greatest person in the world’ (shi shang zhi mama hao). A large audience of sick children and their parents quickly gathered and the Choir gave out gifts before breaking up into groups and playing with the children at the afternoon play session – a daily activity run by Heart to Heart volunteers for sick children and their families.

Many of these sick children have congenital heart disease and for poor people, particularly those that live in rural villages, paying for heart surgery is out of the question. Congenital heart defects are often fatal and without treatment children that do survive may have related ailments such as serious chest infections and a debilitating lack of energy. For rural children going to school often requires walking up to an hour each way – the consequence for children with a congenital heart defect being that they cannot attend school.

The ‘Heart to Heart’ organisation is a non-profit community out-reach organisation formed by expatriates living in Shanghai. These fantastic volunteers donate their time and raise money to give support to disadvantaged Chinese children hospitalised in Shanghai and Wuxi who are undergoing heart surgery to correct congenital heart defects. In Shanghai Heart to Heart volunteers conduct fundraising activities with the proceeds going towards either sponsoring a needy child’s heart operation, or the purchasing of new books, toys, clothing, food and blankets for hospitalised children. Volunteers also collect and distribute clothing, toys, bedding, and personal hygiene products or any other products that can be used by the children and their families.

If you would like to assist Heart to Heart Shanghai in their wonderful work you can do so by sponsoring the heart surgery that returns these children to good health. For more information please visit their website at heart2heartshanghai.net or register your interest via email to sponsorship@h2hsh.net.

Heart to Heart also accepts donations of clothing, toys, personal grooming products, books, blankets and quilts, and they organise school library book donations – you can register your interest by email to libraryproject@h2hsh.net

One special case brought to our attention by Julie Martens of MiFan MaMa was that of a baby girl born deaf, blind, and with congenital heart disease. Julie found this little girl lying in an orphanage unable to even hold her head up and took her to Shanghai Yodak Cardiac-Thoracic Hospital where her heart defect was corrected. The baby is currently being fostered by Julie, and she will soon have her eyesight restored in a further operation however, because her deafness cannot be corrected her future remains uncertain. MiFan MaMa is a non-profit, non-government voluntary organisation whose pledge is to help make the life of orphans at Lao Wangs Orphanage in Anhui better through sustained support. Julie and her husband purchase and transport rice, milk powder, and eggs on a monthly basis, and they also transport and give anything that is donated. If you would like to assist Julie and MiFan MaMa in their work with the orphanage you can visit the MiFan MaMa website at Mifanmama.com or you can contact Julie at Julie_anne_martens@hotmail.com (when emailing please put mifan mama in the subject line). For Chinese speakers contact Jane Zhou at janezhou2002@gmail.com or phone (Shanghai) 13795305610.

The Hospital visit concluded with a tour of the wards where many of the gravely ill children were – some of whom will not survive. Most Choir members found this extremely confronting and difficult to deal with however on a more positive note the Choir’s visit did provide some entertainment for the children and their parents, and being able to do anything for the children and their families was a gift in itself. It also gave us an insight into how fortunate we are to live in Australia and made us realise how we often take this for granted.

The visit to Shanghai Yodak Cardiac-Thoracic Hospital was organised by the Australian Group Travel Company (the Choir’s China travel agency) through their ‘Hands on Humanity’ project that aims to create travel experiences that raise the social consciousness and awareness of people, through community service projects with the underprivileged and disadvantaged in the countries people visit while on tour. In particular the Choir would like to thank Australian Group Travel agent Kerryn Whittingham who put an enormous amount of effort into organising not only the hospital visit, but also much of the Choir’s China tour. Thank you Kerryn, we really appreciate your thoroughness and attention to detail as well as yours and Darren’s support during the Shaoxing World Choir Games. For more information about the Hands on Humanity initiative email sales@australiangrouptravel.com.au or visit: www.australiangrouptravel.com.au

Following the visit to the hospital the Choir frocked up for a photo shoot on the Bund. As always happens this caused a small sensation as Chinese tourists flocked to also photograph the Choir. After another magical evening in magical China the Choir returned to the hotel for a final farewell and thankyou that began with a wonderful speech by Philip Mathias. Philip began by thanking Professor Kevin McConkey, Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic and Global Relations, University of Newcastle and said that without Professor McConkey’s vision and hard work the Choir’s China trip would not only not have been possible, but it would not have been the success that it has. The first class accommodation, as well as the theatres in which the Choir performed, were all personally arranged by Professor McConkey. Although Professor McConkey could not be present this evening, the Choir nonetheless gave him a rousing round of applause in appreciation of his efforts.

Philip also thanked Gabby Jack and Greg Kerr for their effort and commitment as choir members and Events Manager and Choir Manager respectively. Both Gabby and Greg have worked late into the night after a hard day of rehearsing and performing to ensure that the following days schedule was planned down to the minutest detail, while also taking care of the inevitable hiccups that occur along the way. Also central to the daily organisation of the tour were William Nan Jiang, Academic and Global Relations Division, University of Newcastle, and our tour guide Marcie. Both of these Chinese Nationals were extremely patient and kind towards a large non-Mandarin speaking group and without their organisational skills it is difficult to imagine how the Choir would have made it to the majority of their gigs on time let alone half way around China. By way of thanks both William and Marcie were made Honorary Choir Members and they also received small gifts given on behalf of the Choir.  Also thanked tonight for her cultural, linguistic, and artistic advice was former Novocastrian now Beijing resident Catherine (Kate) Croll. Kate has traveled with the Choir for much of their China tour and has not only organised small groups trips to some fascinating places, but she has also been on hand to answer questions about China from the perspective of a Westerner. In addition Kate has been photo and video documenting the China tour and in November this will culminate with an interactive gallery showing of her photos and film in Newcastle.

Last but certainly not least Phillip thanked the Choir for all of their hard work, commitment, and passion, and said that the China trip had not only cemented their position as a great Choir, but it had also cemented the Choir as a group of people who love and support one another.

A final thank you to all of those people who followed the blog and to all of the people who posted a comment – your well wishes really meant a lot to the Choir members. This may be the last blog post for a while however as Philip Mathias concluded, from here on it is onwards and upwards for the Choir and the next World Choir Games are being held in 2012 in Cincinnati so keep watching this space!


4 Responses to “Day 19: visit to the Shanghai Yodak Cardiac-Thoracic Hospital”

  1. 1 judi walker
    July 24, 2010 at 18:31

    Great to read all the news. What happened to the video of the Opening Ceremony. And what about the winner announcements….have they been recorded. So would love to see that.
    So.Cincinatti 2012….Elliott & Lachlan will be busy. Tutoring and singing with Hunter Singers and now Uni Choir as well……..that will be amazing. A neighbour said it was on the news about your wins…..but she couldn’t remember which channel. Trawled the net, but couldn’t find anything. See you Sunday…….so excited.

  2. July 27, 2010 at 08:15

    Many thanks for a wonderful running diary of the amazing experiences of the choir while on tour in China. It’s been a real privilege for all of us at The Australian Group Travel Company to get to know the choir and all it’s supporters. We look forward to exciting times ahead!
    Caroline O’Brien

  3. January 26, 2011 at 18:58

    very nice post..Thanks for sharing this with us. But can you provide some more details about student accommodation Newcastle in Australia?

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