It all began in 1989. Chen Tianwen and his wife, Guo Gairan have hearts that just can’t say “no.” Chinese children abandoned by their parents because of disabilities had no place to go in 1989. And so the couple opened their home and their hearts. They already had three children at home, but when they saw that first disabled child on the streets, the couple took him home and immediately began his care.  Now in their 60s, they continue to care for homeless children, even finding some of them living on the streets. As child after child was placed in their home, the workload became increasingly more difficult for Guo. Chen quit his job at a fertilizer plant to stay home and help his wife care for those who would have had no home and no family if it weren’t for them. They survived on just $24 per child per month that the government paid.

Fading Flowers is the documentary film created in 2012 highlighting this soft-hearted couple and the lives they have provided for their 40+ children. It won Best Documentary at the 2012 Shanghai International Film Festival and brought much needed attention to the good that the couple is doing. Because of this, volunteer individuals and organizations have stepped forward to help. They have been provided a larger home, the government subsidy per child has been raised by more than 5 times, and their disabled children are receiving needed medical treatment.

Chen and Guo love each of their children, and every year they attend the Qingming Festival to remember their children who died before they could receive medical care to heal them.  Although those children have no tombstones to mark their graves, Chen and Guo have not forgotten them.

Photo Credit: Tatiana Grozetskaya /