'I've met some of them. The last time they saw their parents was when they were taken to hospital,' says Carrie Lam The social welfare chief spoke of her sadness yesterday over the plight of 24 children left orphaned after Sars killed one or both of their parents. Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor made her comments while launching a scheme to help pay for their education. The 'We Care Education Fund'' set up by Mrs Lam and three civil servants has already swelled to $4 million. Yesterday, it received backing from three ministers, the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Frederick Ma Si-hang; the Secretary for Security, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee; and Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Henry Tang Ying-yen. They each pledged to make donations. The Secretary for Civil Service, Joseph Wong Wing-ping, sent a letter to all civil servants asking them to contribute. Mrs Lam said: 'I've met some of these children. The situation is quite sad really. Some of them don't even know their parents have passed away. The last time they saw mum and dad was when their parents were taken to hospital.' Mrs Lam would not give details of the individual children involved, but she did disclose that many of them were of primary school age, and the youngest is only a few weeks old. The Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Shelley Lee Lai-kuen, also a founder of the fund, is another senior official who has met Sars orphans. She had earlier taken two such children from Amoy Gardens for a meal at McDonald's and will meet a 13-year-old girl who had lost both parents this weekend. So far the outbreak has orphaned 24 children, and the government has warned that the number could rise. In some cases, both parents have died. About $4 million had been raised by the 'We Care Education Fund' to take care of the children's education until they are adults, but Mrs Lam warned that it may not be enough for them. 'The more money, the better the service we can give the children. I can't say exactly what we will need at the moment, but I'd say $10 million will be a target.' Unlike some other funds, the beneficiaries of this scheme are not required to come forward and ask for help. However, the children may have to wait before they can benefit from the fund because it is still at the stage of raising money. In a separate development yesterday, it was announced that families looking after children who have lost their parents will receive up to $200,000 from a $17million fund established by the business community. Families caring for a child who has lost both parents through Sars will receive $200,000, and those where one parent has died will receive $100,000 under the Business Community Relief Fund for Victims of Sars. Where the deceased was the family bread-winner, $50,000 will be given regardless of whether a child had been left behind. A single patient will be given $3,000 a month, a family of two to three, including the patient, will get $6,000, and $8,000 will be given to families of five or more. The Social Welfare Department said neither of the two funds would be means-tested and money should be released to the applicants within a week. Mrs Lam added that Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients would not have their welfare cut if they apply for the funds.