The Great Chinese Orphan Rescuer
Siew Mei Ang Cheung knows what it's like to be marginalized. Growing up as a Chinese immigrant in Malaysia, she was subject to an educational quota system that she says limited ethnic minorities' opportunities. The precocious youngster was undaunted by the challenges, however, and earned a Kentucky Fried Chicken scholarship to attend high school in England. There, she keenly felt the sting of isolation, but it caused her to reevaluate her priorities and dig deep into the Word of God.
As a 21-year-old college student, Ang Cheung sensed a call to use her talents to address injustice, inequality, and exploitation. At 23, she began working with Vietnamese refugees in Liverpool. Today Ang Cheung is executive director of Christian Action, a 25-year-old, Hong Kong-based organization with a multimillion-dollar budget that provides vital services to refugees, foreign domestic workers, and abandoned children.
Ang Cheung so identifies with the immigrant experience that she never saw herself as Chinese. After many years of working with refugees, she had a dream about an abandoned baby girl in a Chinese hospital whose situation was hopeless. She woke up in tears. The dream involved a friend who refused to help the baby. When she told him about it, he said he and his wife had thought of adopting from China but had decided it would be too difficult. "God revealed my heart to you," he told Ang Cheung.
She says this was the first confirmation that God was calling her to direct her energy (and Christian Action's resources) toward the plight of Chinese orphans. The second was when a Chinese national who lived in Australia smuggled an abandoned baby girl out of China and asked for Ang Cheung's help in adopting her. The third was visiting a state-run Chinese orphanage for herself and seeing how desperate the situation was in the early 1990s.
In 1997, Christian Action signed an agreement with local officials in Qinghai Province to work with indigenous people in caring for abandoned children. China Development Brief reports that Christian Action took over management of the Xining Child Welfare Institute and has since "invested heavily in improving the institution's training, facilities and care practices." The Xining Orphan and Disabled Welfare Center officially opened in 1998, and Christian Action partnered with the local government again in 2007 to open its affiliate, Xining Children's Rehabilitation Center. Now Christian Action has been asked to co-manage several more orphanages in Qinghai Provence, according to Ang Cheung.