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Voluntourism Spotlight: Help Care for China’s Special-Needs Orphans

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Volunteer to help children in need when you visit the Starfish foster home in China. Keep reading to find out how you can be involved and check back every Wednesday for more voluntourism opportunities.

In Xi’an, China, Starfish foster home is dedicated to creating a place where orphans with special needs don’t just survive, but thrive. Starting in 2005, the organization has worked with local and provincial authorities to provide services to as many children as possible. So far, 169 children have been rescued and received more than 250 surgeries. Now 86 of those children have been adopted.

Volunteers support every aspect of the organization. They assist with the babies’ care by feeding, changing diapers, bathing, dressing and entertaining, playing and walking with the babies. They also help toddlers and preschoolers star their education and develop basic skills. The children at Starfish are also often adopted out, so children learn basic English nursery songs (watch volunteers training here). In addition to working directly with the children, volunteers help with building maintenance and clerical work.

The organization welcomes short and long-term volunteers with stays from a week to several months. Volunteers must be 18 or older, or accompanied by a parent.

If you’re interested in volunteering, fill out the application, scan it and email it to the volunteer coordinator at: You can also donate to Starfish to help fund the organization and its mission.

By Lily J. Kosner for