Guangdong is filled with needy people. Among them are more than two million physically or mentally handicapped children. While the government has set up a number of hospitals, schools and centres to offer aid to them, there are also a number of other groups and individuals who want to help the children, but cannot do so without taking some risk. Charity groups and other non-governmental organisations are something of an anomaly in China. In Guangzhou, there are a number of private groups working to help handicapped children. But they are limited, thanks to the government's tight-fisted control over the way money can be raised and handled by these organisations. Charity groups which want to give aid to handicapped children, for example, cannot raise money legally unless they go through the Disabled Federation, an arm of the government. In August, Hui Ling, a privately run education and training centre for the handicapped, raised about 80,000 yuan (HK$75,000) from its first charity ball, held at the China Hotel. More than 300 people attended, and the event proved to be a big success. However, holding the fundraiser was not easy. 'When you want to do something like that in public, it becomes a complex problem,' said Fernando Cagnin, a member of the Hui Ling board. According to Mr Cagnin, Hui Ling operates under the auspices of three governmental departments, the Disabled Federation, the Education Department and the Civil Affairs Bureau. 'We've been trying to make everything as legal as possible,' he said. 'The legal procedure in China is very complicated.' Some organisations have been able to co-operate smoothly with the local government, although they are not officially allowed to operate as a charity. The Guangdong International Volunteer Expatriate Service (Gives) raises money and carries out services in Guangzhou aimed at helping the needy - such as its Below the Poverty Line project, which provides education and medical treatment to locals who cannot afford such services. 'We don't have a licence to operate but that's because we don't have paid staff. We are all volunteers,' said Rosaline Yan, the group's president. 'Sometimes, we get these projects from government agencies. They allow us to carry out this work.' According to Ms Yan, Gives raised 200,000 yuan from their international food and fun fair held last year. The event was held on Ersha Island, at Oakwood Residences, where many expats and consulate staff live. In 2000, Guangdong accounted for as much as 10 per cent of China's gross domestic product. Most of that wealth is concentrated in Guangzhou. With so much spending power, there is the potential for people to take a more active role in supporting the province's needy children. Several local and expat organisations are taking the lead in providing this kind of care, but local and central government entities should make the process easier for them to operate legally, without the fear that they could be shut down.