Orphans face many long term challenges.
We serve and provide care for many orphans in China. In our China children’s programs we serve children through various culturally and geographically appropriate programs. Each program provides legitimate ongoing care to its members which are intended to help change lives for the long-term future.
Children usually join our family while in primary or lower middle school. Some who joined our family as young teens are now employed in successful jobs because of education scholarships. Over 45 children from Doves Wings are now living in beautiful adoption Forever Families.
Doves Wings, a loving home for babies and toddlers from orphanages
Doves Wings began in 2010. The home works with orphanages by fostering babies and toddlers in smaller more family-style homes. Our Doves Wings apartments each provide loving home environments for 6 to 9 children who live with a dedicated group of Ayis (aunties/childcarers).
The children have been abandoned for various reasons and usually, all have physical challenges. In this home environment, they receive much more dedicated care than they can in the much larger institutional style orphanage.
Since we opened Doves Wings we’ve seen over 45 children be matched and adopted. Most have gone to northern American or European families but a few have been adopted locally.
The children live in Doves Wings and of course, ayis are employed to care for them in every way needed. Volunteers who come and serve in various ways assist this team of loving ayis. Some volunteers are foreigners who are living locally and others come as part of our short-term teams. We also have volunteers who come with specific skills to help care for the children and train the ayis.
The children are family. They don’t swap from apartment to apartment and as best as possible we ensure the ayis always serve in the same apartment.
We maintain a ratio of approximately 1 ayi to 3 children during the day. We also have an additional ayis preparing the meals for staff and the children. One lady recently said… “I am very impressed by the standard of care, food and hygiene at the Doves Wings home. Well done, I know it is very difficult to achieve here”.
Doves Wings relies on donations and child sponsorship. Without these, the doors would close. Children require multiple sponsors to allow us to care in such a good way for these children.
Educational scholarships for rural kids
This was the first area where Heart For Kids began helping children long-term. There are so many children who are living in poverty who were not able to complete their normal high school and had no hope of continuing to tertiary education. We stepped in to help them realise their dreams.
The children we’re helping mostly live in rural villages in counties surrounding the main city we work from. Local government charity officers or local churches introduce us to the families. We visit to assess their situations and ensure the families are truly living in very difficult circumstances. The children are usually in primary or middle school when they join the Heart For Kids family.
Long days make school life tough
Most schools start from early morning (about 7:30am) to early evening (about 6pm) with 2 hours lunch break. Many schools have evening self-study classes running from 7pm-9pm so students can finish their homework and prepare for endless tests. If schools do not run self-study evening classes, students still have to do their homework at home, usually up to 10pm.
On average, primary school pupils spend about seven to eight hours at school whilst a secondary school student spends about twelve to fourteen hours at school if including lunchtime and evening classes. Due to fierce competitiveness to get into good universities, the pressure to do well is intense.
Many schools hold extra morning classes in science and math for three to four hours on Saturdays. If schools do not have Saturday morning classes, most parents would send their children to expensive cramming schools at weekends or organise one-to-one private tuition for their children over the weekend.
The education process in China is very competitive. But of course children in very poor families are not able to even enter into this competitiveness without help to simply stay in school. The academic year is divided into two terms for all the educational institutions: February to mid-July (six weeks summer vacation) and September to mid/late-January (four weeks winter vacation).
Li had a very difficult childhood
One child we help has had a very tough life growing up, we’ll call her Li. A couple that has looked after and cared for her as grandparents when they found her abandoned as a baby girl and brought her home. Grandpa has now died and grandma struggles to care for this young woman who is nearing the end of high school. Only through her sponsor’s help has Li been able to get this far. Li hopes to gain entry to an army university. Sponsorship that made it possible for her to continue in school and hopefully we will see her dreams come true soon.
Our program mentoring team visits children regularly to assess their current situations. To remain in our program a child must meet with our team and continue diligently studying in school. During these mentoring visits our team spend time talking with the kids about their school and family circumstances, any difficulties they may be facing and how to make good long-term life choices. We try to guide them so they realise that while education is important their personal value is not in their school grade.
One among many
Li is just one child who has benefited by continued education. Chen visited us in our China office after he graduated. He joined our family while in high school and then we helped him gain his university education. Now Chen has a secure job at a federal government level and his future, along with that of his future children, is looking completely different. He explained to us that without our help he would probably be a cook, a waiter or unemployable; a long way from his dreams. His elderly mother sat with us, holding the hand of our founder, for nearly half an hour softly repeating xie xie, xie xie; thank you thank you.
Sponsorship for education helps children’s life stories be re-written which changes the future for each child and that of their children.
Little Fish, providing activities for children and adults with special needs
Things are improving for children in China with special challenges however there is still a long way to go. Our Little Fish team provide activities for children from around 5 years old through to adults in their thirties that allow them to learn a lot about self-expression through dance, music, play and craft. And every child likes storytime!
Each week staff and volunteers run programs for the children in a local government orphanage. These regular teams will be added to by visiting international volunteer teams when available.
When a child with physical or intellectual challenges is too old to live in the orphanage they are moved to an aged care welfare home. This usually happens when about 15 years old. These can be very sad places with little possible to offer the child with opportunities to grow to their potential.
Little Fish members love crafts
Through our Little Fish program our team teaches members how to make products and enjoyable crafts like cards and desk items which the program members then sell and raise funds for themselves directly. They are also taught dance which they love. Yearly they take part in an event in a local International School and present some dances.
People have been relocating by the hundreds of thousands across China in recent years. Whole villages it seems have moved to the city trying to find work. We’ve seen large schools in rural areas virtually closed because so many families have moved to larger centres.
But for the children, this results in many educational challenges. Children are not guaranteed education in areas away from their birth area. Schools often don’t have the resources to cater to this increase in students.
Through Little Fish we have provided English classes for children each week. Our visiting volunteers also help this group in amazing ways bringing fresh ideas and skills to the program.
Little Fish depends on donations to operate. Some children can be sponsored. Donations and sponsorships allow this valuable program to continue.