China Visit, May 2016: blog update 6

May Trip 2016 China Update No 6: by Tricia Johnston

Friday 20th May, my last full day in Shenyang will be spent having meetings with individuals involved in SCCG programmes and a visit to Liaoning Diocesan Caritas Centre to meet with Father Zhang.

Sacred_Heart_Cathedral_of_ShenyangI haven’t been in China since Nov 2014 so you forget just how noisy daily life is here. I was reminded of this on the journey to the Catholic Cathedral. Cars/lorries/buses toot their horns to warn other drivers/ pedestrians/ cyclists that they are approaching. That means there is a constant cacophony of car horns blaring all of the time. Added to this you have music being played out of shops, traders standing at shop fronts shouting to attract custom and just the general noise of thousands of people moving around the pavements. It isn’t really until quite late in the evening that things quieten down.

When we arrived at the Cathedral there was a bride and groom having wedding pictures taken in the courtyard. They hadn’t been married in the Cathedral, just liked the backdrop. When we came out of the meeting there were two other couples having pictures taken. These photos aren’t taken on the wedding day, this is an arranged ‘shoot’ with just the bride and groom present with a professional photographer and their assistant.

Many of the SCCG’s partners are concerned about the elderly and service provision. Father Zhang is no exception but his emphasis is on delivering spiritual care and giving them the space to tell their stories. He would really like to gather these stories for publication that the wisdom of the elderly can be shared with future generations.

In the evening we joined some of the delegates attending a Palliative Care Conference. Dr Wang Yumei has been instrumental in setting up an Association for groups, in Liaoning Province, involved in delivering palliative care and this annual two-day Conference is an opportunity for them to get together for training and information sharing. On this occasion Father Zhang will be speaking about the role of spiritual care and the partnership between the Church and the Hospital.

The dinner was also a final chance to spend time with the Palliative Care Ward Staff, many of whom have been in Scotland. It was a nice relaxed evening with only one ‘concern’ – the numerous gifts of tea I received. April is when the new tea is gathered in and so it is often given as a gift around this time. My next challenge would be getting everything into my case. Fortunately I have an expanding case……

Saturday morning was spent visiting the Post Partum Women’s Centre in the Benxi Hospital complex (also part of Shengjing Hospital).

I mentioned in an earlier update the Chinese post-birth practices, well the Post Partum Centre provides them in a luxury setting – at a cost! RMB10,000 (approx £1,000) for 28 days in a standard room up RMB 40,000 (approx £4,000) for deluxe accommodation. For that the woman (accompanied by a family member) receives wonderful accommodation, 6 small meals a day, all their and their baby’s washing done, a range of optional activities (yoga, massage, crafts etc), nursing staff on hand to look after baby if Mum wants a break. Everything is temperature controlled so that no cold water, drafts etc get near the Mum. When we entered the building we had to stand in a ‘box’ that blew high pressure air at us to blow off any dust we were carrying!

Post partum depression is taken seriously and Mums are encouraged to talk about how they are feeling. The building is 6 stories high and each room has a balcony but unless the Mum is accompanied by a family member the balcony is not unlocked, just in case!

Following lunch it was off to the airport. When I arrived in Shenyang my case weighed 15 kilos. When I left Shenyang it weighed 22 kilos – 7 kilos of new tea!!!!!!!

Best wishes, Tricia