The Amity Foundation is deeply impressive. Not only did we see a centre offering elderly chinese opportunities for assisted living, community interaction (the old man who took on Sandy at ping pong had killer instincts; as had the ladies playing ma jong!) and health clinics (Andrew got to speak on Chinese TV about elderly care in Scotland during a one day clinic served by 12 doctors from the regional hospital), but we also got to hear about a new project to help rehabilitate the environmental damage to the Mochau Lake and encourage bio diversity.
This latter project is one of 12 where Amity, supported by the Chinese Government, is seeking to offer advice, support and help in developing the capicities of civil society. For us in Scotland, civil society has grown around us organically over the past few hundered years; in China it is desperately needed but until recently was nearly unknown. Amity is 26 yrs old. It is one of the oldest organisations which is not part of the government. As the society changes and the government is less and less able to provide for all the different neeeds, other actors are required and Amity is helping train and develop non-governmental organisations in setting up or making themselves more effective. These include pursuing better environmental protection, keeping traditional kun opera alive, and advocacy and practical work with the “differently abled,” amongst others.
Something more sober was the visit to the museum commemorating the Japanese takeover of Nanjing in late 1937, early 1938. 300,000 chinese were killed in this attack and the museum takes you through the realities of the battles and details many of the deaths, but opens out into a lovely water feature declaring the blessings of peace. Many bitter words against the Japanese; we wondered about where was the opportunity for reconciliation and also about the millions who died in the following 30 years and if there was a memorial to them.
Our visit to the Amity Bakery was the highlight of the day. Not only were the biscuits (chocolate, grape, lemon, apricot and more) delicious, but the differently abled adults who had been trained as bakers and who made a living from their work here, offered us a warm and kindly welcome, and even gave us a mini cream merangue (fill in your own joke here: we certainly did). It was an uplifitng visit and left us enthusiastic to be working in partnership with the christian-based Amity Foundation.