In recent posts, I’ve written about our struggles as a family to adjust to life in Shunyi after two years in Chaoyang, and about how difficult it was to find an apartment and deal with the problems that arose.
I also asked where to find the creativity and community in Shunyi. When I came across the “Desperate Housewives of Shunyi,” that question was definitively answered. Having coffee with Lizbet Adams, María Cruz, and Elvira Zaera was a delight, as these ladies absolutely bubbled with energy, positivity and fun.
The group’s name, they told me, is not just a reference to the TV program, but is explained in the notice on their Wechat group:
“… because we are desperate to give help, desperate to give hope, and especially desperate to give love to people in need in our community and help changing lives!”
“It started as a group of ladies who were friends,” Adams said. “Some have already gone but the group is surviving. We try to give each other emotional support, and have fun! Stay-at-home moms can go crazy alone by themselves all day, especially if they have language problems. We share information, like how to use Didi, how to use WeChat, and help people during their transition. I don’t want anybody to be left out… to be lonely and depressed and leave, having had a bad experience.”
From these beginnings the group has flourished, they said.
“We have 62 people in the Wechat group, mostly active members. It’s a private group – we don’t want to open it because we don’t want spectators. We want to meet people who want to be active, we want it to be relevant.”
“Some of the ladies I invite, because I know them; others are invited by others,” Zaera added. “It’s a chain of connections.”
“It’s a very multicultural group,” Cruz emphasized. “At the last meeting we had ladies from Russia, Germany, Finland, South America, Kazakhstan, Austria, Brazil… It would be fantastic to have some Chinese ladies in the group; it’s not cool if it’s just something for expats. We don’t want the group to be segregated. This is our home now, and it’s important to get adjusted to the culture.”
I asked what the group gets up to.
“We have coffee mornings, and meet for lunch,” Adams said. “There’s a schedule every month. Different people meet at different times. I understand people are busy! I’m busy sometimes. Whoever can come can take over.”
The group has held clothing auctions to raise money for Dew Drops Little Flower, and they have big plans for the future.
“We’re planning a small food fair, the Shunyi Quality Food Fair. We want to create a platform for people to promote local businesses. We want to invite guest speakers, and have lectures, if anybody can support us. We want the group to not only be about socializing, but also to be productive, about dealing with emotions, about learning something new, something cultural.”
The ladies acknowledged the help they’ve received from their supporters: V Etiquette, Cheers, Shalimar, Sunny Dental, Elvira’s Nuts, and Cose Beauty Products.
“People are so generous,” Adams said. “It’s so easy here to sponsor events, and connect with other people. Everybody is so open to collaborate and support each other, to do things together.”
It’s a wonderfully uplifting message, and I’m sure not the last I will hear about the community in Shunyi.
Photos: courtesy of Desperate Housewives of Shunyi