Saturday, October 27, 2012

Parting Shot from Hangzhou

Well, we are 'officially' finished with our work at Hangzhou.  Our closing meeting went well and Directors Zhang (in pink), Li,(in pink) and Song (in black) had tears in their eyes when they hugged us goodbye.  (Yes, people in China do hug. You can't work with Americans without learning that cultural skill.)  They made us promise to come back each year for two days to see the newcomers.
We are set to begin work at NingboChildren's Welfare Institute, two hours away by bus.  The director there has been to some of our training and we were approached last October requesting our services.  And the best part is we get to bring Wang Ming and Haiyan (lower left) with us!!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

I know from the adoption community, that there were many children adopted in the last year. I know of hundreds of kids we screened in 3 years' time that are now living in happy families here in the US, the Netherlands, Canada, and Spain. It's such a heartwarming thought being lulled into believing that the numbers are decreasing.  That's why I think it's ironic that on our last trip to Hangzhou CWI, where we were asked to screen only the newcomers it was our busiest day yet. We saw 49 children, mostly infants who, for various reasons, arrived this year on the orphanage doorstep. Mostly babies, but some toddlers as well. Most of the children we saw have special needs, such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, limb deficits, and cleft lip and palate to name a few. A few newborns had no apparent special needs or resolved needs such as neonatal jaundice. 
While walking to and from the exam building, it was touching to see the school age children we have gotten to know well in the last 3 years excitedly waving and saying "hello!" in their very best English. You can't walk by a morning preschooler parade without smiling and wiping a tear away.  Life goes on... 

Really not a bad flight at all.  All the volunteers reported a surprisingly good night's sleep after a nice low keyed dinner at a local noodle shop within a short walk from the orphanage. We awaken again to all the familiar sights and sounds that we have experienced over the years...the birds singing, the staff arriving via motor scooter, the clatter of the pre-dawn wagon full of steaming formula and rice congee pulled by ladies in blue smocks. The babies from the next building over from us are just starting to make it known that it is time to get up.  There is a quiet, intermittent fussiness as one by one each child's morning needs are being met. A nice way to wake up...sort of like waves on the ocean.  It happens each day and every day, 365 days a year whether we are here or in the twin cities.  It's a safe comforting routine. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Goodbye Hangzhou and Hello Ningbo!

Our October 2012 volunteer trip is about to begin and our 3 year commitment with Hangzhou is coming to a close.  It leaves me feeling bittersweet.  Sad because we will be seeing the children one last time but happy over the staff's growth and independence.  Since our group is all about empowerment, we will be taking a more hands off approach as we watch the Chinese therapists screen the children and make their recommendations.  We are so proud of the work the staff at Hangzhou has accomplished.  Recently I revisited all the monthly reports that they have sent us over the years.  It is so gratifying to see the level of confidence they have gained and how much they have grown professionally.  We will have a formal dinner to celebrate our collaboration and then our group will head out to a new orphanage two hours away in Ningbo, a coastal city on the South China Sea.  We have requested that one of the therapists at Hangzhou accompany us to Ningbo and join our team.  It's part of our plan for Hangzhou to 'pay it forward'.  Well this morning we heard that they will be sending not one but two of the therapists to accompany us!  Welcome RTC volunteers, Wang Ming and Hai Yan!