By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
With credit to A Book about Children by Larry E. Tise
Between 1949 and 1951, about 2.5 million Chinese refugees fled to Hong Kong, which was not equipped to handle such a crowd.
At the same time, ChildFund, started in 1938 as China’s Children Fund, also found itself unwelcome in China, which had ushered in a communist government that insisted it could take care of its own orphans and also confiscated CCF’s properties. It was clear that our organization could no longer operate in China, and because we were already working in other countries since the end of World War II, CCF’s board changed our name to Christian Children’s Fund in 1951.
In 1952, under the guidance of then overseas director Verent Mills, we began building Children’s Garden in Hong Kong, a campus for orphans who were assigned 12 to a cottage. It remains the most ambitious building project in our history.
Each cottage was assigned a “mother” (often a widow) who oversaw the children, who were of all different ages, and they also attended school on the grounds. This project was groundbreaking in its vision to provide more than just food and shelter; it aimed for a higher standard of care, giving children a supportive, loving home.
Children’s Garden, which was placed at the base of Saddleback Mountain, was finished in 1957, and for years it served as home and school for thousands of children. In 1977, as CCF wrapped up its work in Hong Kong, Children’s Garden (renamed Wu Kwai Sa Youth Village) was donated to the Hong Kong YMCA for its youth programs. The increasingly prosperous colony could now build its own schools and day care centers, as well as assist children and families with special needs.