Engaged in Volunteerism for 19 years, Niu Jun Together with 120,000 Volunteers to Carry the Delightful Cause of the Public Good Through to the End


(Text by Reporter Xing Beilin/Photograph by Reporter Yu Ruwen) The kind “Brother Niu” and “Uncle Niu” called among the children, the “Big Head Niu” of vigorous mind in colleagues’ eyes, and the “obsessed man with public good” with perseverance and competency in volunteers’ minds…… right, that’s him, Niu Jun, Director of Social Work Department of Children’s Hospital of Shanghai. Since engaged in volunteerism in 1998 for the first time, Niu Jun has grown from an ordinary volunteer to the person in charge of volunteers with consistent intention “all what we do is to bring more happiness to children”. He always said: “what brings me the most happiness is to accompany children with leukemia to celebrate their birthdays. The moment they blow out the candle will always make me deeply touched.”


The age of his “volunteerism” is the same with that of “Sunny Cabin”

In 1998, Niu Jun, who had just started his career in Children’s Hospital of Shanghai, registered as a volunteer of “Sunny Cabin”. “Sunny Cabin” was set up in 1998 by Children’s Hospital of Shanghai as the first study and entertainment site for children with leukemia in China. Thus, Niu Jun always said that his “volunteerism” age is the same with that of “Sunny Cabin”, and that “volunteerism is a social university and I’d like to grow together with ‘Sunny Cabin’”.


The experience as a volunteer for the first time lingers vividly in Niu Jun’s mind. “The first time I worked as a volunteer is the Children’s Day in 1998 when the hospital’s Committee of Chinese Communist Youth League organized a birthday party for children with leukemia. Looking these children blowing off candles full of expectation and smile on their faces, I was deeply moved.” Niu Jun told the reporter that it was just that moment that he determined in his mind to bring more happiness to these children with his entire endeavor. “To bring smile to children with leukemia” became thus the original intention driving him to engage in volunteerism. Since then, Niu Jun visited hematonosis wards frequently and played games together with the child patients, bringing help and warm to them. And intimacy between he and these children was built over time, and some children would call him “Uncle Niu” and some would call him “Brother Niu”. In 2003, since he worked as the Secretary of the Committee of Chinese Communist Youth League of Children’s Hospital of Shanghai, he visited hematonosis wards more frequently. Every year on Children’s Day or during the Spring Festival, he would call on young colleagues in Children’s Hospital to organize activities for children and to present them with gifts.


In 2006, Niu Jun set up the first “Sunny Philanthropy” volunteers’ website providing services to children with leukemia in China to recruit volunteers from the whole society, to establish the “Sunny Philanthropy” volunteers’ service team and to provide volunteer services of four categories, namely “intimate companionship, philanthropic pair, realization of dreams and philanthropic donation”. Thence, “Sunny Cabin” became the “battle field” for volunteers to provide philanthropic services, turning the children’s wards a more colorful world with more happiness.


Transition to the “general coordinator” of volunteer work

From the original “Sunny Cabin” to the aggressive advancing of volunteer work in various areas today, Niu Jun has grown from an ordinary volunteer to the organizer of the volunteers’ team and volunteerism projects. “The transition lies not only in me but also in the volunteerism work of our hospital, which has been upgraded from version 1.0 to the present version 3.0.” Niu Jun said with smile.


In 2012, Niu Jun started his career in medical social work through transition. Realizing that ways of simple accompanying, storytelling, playing games and building blocks couldn’t resolve the deep anxiety and demands of children with leukemia and their parents, Niu Jun started to figure out how to enable children with leukemia to grow during treatment period. Niu Jun put forth the idea of “supporting the growth of children with leukemia” and launched projects successively, including “Rainbow Bay Wards School”, “painting course”, “108 magic course”, “music room”, trying to provide education chances for these children and to help them to develop interests and hobbies to communicate with normal children of the same age.


 “Every year when our hospital collects children’s dreams, there will always be children expressing their hope of study. Therefore, parents expect that there will be professional teachers of all subjects coming to hospital to assist these children in study. So I thought about whether it was practical to introduce professional teachers in schools as volunteers to teach here via the mode of ‘medical social work+ volunteer work’.” Niu Jun said it was exactly these children’s hopes and parents’ advices that had motivated him to help these children with even more efforts. In 2014, initiated by Children’s Hospital of Shanghai and No.4 Middle School Affiliated to ECNU and responded by 12 other schools, “Rainbow Bay Wards School” was established with supportive conditions and a volunteer team formed by over 100 professional teachers was settled in wards officially. During two semesters in one year, every Tuesday afternoon, these volunteer teachers would take turns to visit the wards to teach these children with leukemia. At present, the wards school has opened for three semesters with a total of 300 volunteer hours and 67 classes. With remarkable fruits, this project won the gold prize in the third Chinese Youth Volunteer Service Project Competition.


 “Hospital is not only a place of treatment but also where overall services are provided on three levels: physiology, psychology and society.” Niu Jun says that as the system of “supporting the growth of children with leukemia” has begun to take shape, the Social Work Department of our hospital will design more functional activities and take advantage of more professional social forces in helping these children growing more effectively.


Bring every volunteer the sense of fulfillment

“You are tender inwardly, so the time you find the smile on children’s face, you will smile as well.” When talking about the volunteer work over years, Niu Jun told the reporter that volunteer work should not only relieve the pain of children with leukemia and express more solicitude and warm but also bring every volunteer the joy of growth and the sense of fulfillment during this process. Over 19 years, there are altogether 120,000 volunteers visiting Children’s Hospital of Shanghai to provide volunteer services of over 200,000 hours, who has harvested growth while providing services to others.


Wang Yiqun is a civil servant of the city administration and is also the “Teacher Sticky Rice” popular among children. At the beginning of 2015, Niu Jun got to know a WeChat Official Account “the mini class of teacher sticky rice” and tried to invite Wang Yiqun to open “painting course of teacher sticky rice” in the hospital to teach children with leukemia. Wang Yiqun told the reporter that as he was just 30 years old that year, he hoped especially to accomplish something of profound meaning. Moved by Niu Jun’s obsessed persistence to public good, he decided to open “the mini class of teacher sticky rice” in “Sunny Cabin”. Hence, Wang Yiqun would appear in “Sunny Cabin” every weekend to teach children with leukemia painting. Gradually, not limited to painting courses, “the mini class of teacher sticky rice” integrated more teaching elements, like magic balloon, polymer clay, etc., with more volunteers’ participation, making itself the backbone volunteer team in Children’s Hospital of Shanghai. “For teams growing from individual volunteer services to volunteer services provided by organization like ‘the mini class of teacher sticky rice’, we will provide our support as long as the individual expresses his will.” Niu Jun told the reporter that for backbone volunteers willing to provide down-to-earth services like Wang Yiqun, the hospital volunteers’ platform will provide further training and support.


“Now, I am thinking about to introduce the concept of ‘Internet+’ into the field of volunteer services.” According to Niu Jun, they are now developing an APP. On this platform, parents of children with leukemia can release service demands and social volunteers can accept orders according to their own schedule and competency to form a one-to-one volunteer service mode. After the service, parents can rate the volunteer and accordingly, volunteers can accumulate credits in this way. These credits can be used to exchange for puzzle or study rewards or to be donated to children who need help to get corresponding aids. Niu Jun said that he hopes this mechanism will motivate the whole society to participate in volunteer services and form a virtuous cycle in the field of public good. Meanwhile, he encourages parents of cured children could also provide volunteer services to illuminate the way of children with leukemia and their parents with sunshine and hope.

(Source: Jing’an Newspaper)