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Friday, November 1, 2013
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Halloween is not a holiday that is celebrated in China, but our little ones had fun dressing up anyway!
Yang and Hua held court in the throne room:
Little Hong made an adorable little dragon:
Hui is the sweetest little pumpkin:
Jun is a tubby little Pooh Bear with a pumpkin honeypot:
Kate and Wang are stripey little zebras:
Chen and Zhen as Thing 1 and Thing 2:
Tiny little Fei is a sleepy turtle:
Sweet little Qiu:
Wei is another precious little pumpkin:
Xuan and Yue are snuggly little ladybugs:
Kate and Yi showing off their stripes:
Friday, October 11, 2013
At any one time, there are scores of people helping to keep Little Flower going, whether they’re on the ground in China or in their own communities. Today, we’re featuring Jana Schmidt and Sandra Bucker, two fundraisers from Germany who’ve found a way to help Chinese orphans by rallying support in their home country.
Jana and Sandra run Little Flowers of China, a German non-profit that they recently started. With the support of their volunteer staff, they currently help find donations and support for 6 baby homes in Beijing, including Little Flower.
It began when Jana became aware of the plight of orphans in China, touched by the story of a young girl named Yue Yue. She wanted to find a way to make in-kind donations to support children like her, and soon found out about Little Flower. Setting out to find some needed items, she wrote to Coloplast, a company that makes healthcare products. To her surprise, she received not a written response to her letter, but a box of donated goods just a few days later!
After that initial victory, she started to organize. Sandra joined her, and they set to work building a social media presence, getting volunteers, and finding more sponsors, donations, and travelers to carry them to China. It was then that they decided to start their own organization. To date, they’ve sent over almost 800 KG of donations to China, as well as donations sent directly from companies within China.
Leveraging partnerships with almost a dozen sponsors, incuding Novatex, Lohmann & Rauscher, and Neotech, they’re very optimistic for the future.
Despite all challenges—the paperwork, accounting, and logistics—of getting these donations to China, Jana and Sandra are trying to build a stronger name for their organization, find more sponsors, and raise awareness about the situation of Chinese orphans within Germany.
We want to thank Jana, Sandra, and Little Flowers of China for helping to support Chunmiao Little Flower.
It just goes to show that in our vastly networked, connected world, people from all across the globe can come together for a common purpose: to give abandoned children a new chance at life. We often get emails and messages from people around the world who would like to help, but aren’t quite sure how. It may not seem like it, but the best kind of help can often come from within your own community, whether it’s hosting a charity dinner, organizing a car wash at your school, or just telling your friends and family about our story. Not only would you be building financial support for children in need, you’d also be spreading awareness. And that’s often the most valuable thing of all. We work hard to give these children a voice. You can help us by making that voice even louder.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Florence Koenderink has been volunteering with us on and off for six years, and is with us now for another two and a half month stretch. She’s at our Beijing infant care home daily, and is one of the most involved and dedicated volunteers we’ve had. Florence works with orphanages and other institutional childcare centers around the world. We recently sat down with her to talk about her background and what she does for Little Flower.
What is your job at Little Flower?
I’m a volunteer. I work with the medical team and help provide training and recommendations to our staff when they need it.
How would you describe a day’s work?
We start with rounds in the morning and spend the day keeping an eye on the children with the biggest problems. I also do physiotherapy as well as speech therapy. With regards to general care, I use my previous experience in orphan work to offer whatever advice I can to both the medical team and the Group Home managers on how things can be improved even more.
How did you start working with Little Flower?
I volunteered for China Care for a year in 2007. There, I got involved with the Little Flower hospice care project. In my first year, I was there helping out, training staff and filling out gaps in the roster. This has been my fifth time back since then.
How did you get into orphan work?
It started with that year in 2007 when I came to China to volunteer in children’s homes. I have an M.A. in Anthropology, but my entire working life, I’ve worked in childcare, whether it was nannying or maternity nursing.
After that first year in China, I found that I had the ability to contribute something that really mattered. I had learned so much and didn’t want to let that go. So I decided to do orphan work in more places. I participate in several projects around the world helping institutional childcare centers improve their care. I’m currently involved with two projects in India, one in Kenya, and Little Flower in China. I’ve also been in Brazil to work on a couple projects there.
In Kenya, I work with orphans and destitute children without caregivers. In India, I work with a local volunteer organization to improve conditions at a home for mentally challenged boys. I also work in a home of 300 kids, half of which are HIV positive. Connected to that is also an adoption home for babies who are HIV negative. The aim is to visit these projects every year, finances allowing.
Little Flower is the best I’ve seen in 6 years. I’ve been to so many places, and I’ve never seen anything that comes close to this kind of standard.
What challenges do you face in your daily work?
The biggest day-to-day challenge would be just finding the time to do everything that needs to be done. There are so many things to keep on top of in the limited number of hours in a day—physiotherapy with certain kids, speech therapy, and several babies that need to be regularly monitored and checked. And all of that is outside the situations that just pop up every day. Often, we’ll get specifically charged with babies with complex problems that no one else can seem figure out. So that’s a challenge.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing people “get it.” As an example, in 2007, I introduced the method of warming up hypothermic children with direct body heat, and at the time it was seen as a really weird thing to do. I would lie down and hold the baby skin-to-skin until they reached a normal body temperature. They started to see that it worked. Last year, I went back to that home. There was a different director there who hadn’t known I had introduced the method years ago. There was a baby with lowered body temperature, and before I said anything, one of the staff said that someone needed to lie down right then and there and warm the baby up. It had become standard practice. It’s not about what I do when I’m there. It’s about what people are able to do when I leave.
And obviously, it’s rewarding to see kids grow stronger and healthier and to have a part in that.
Any final thoughts for our readers?
I have a motto that I use in my own orphan work:
“I cannot change the world, but I can change the world for one child and then another and another.”
Well said, Florence! Check out her website at: www.orphanageprojects.org.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Nathan's mom sent this update once they had gotten settled back in to their home in the US:
"Nathan is doing wonderfully. He is sleeping almost 12 hours each night and napping well in the afternoon. He loves trying new foods. We haven't found a food he hasn't liked yet! The first English word he said this week was "diaper". We went to the pool, and he loved splashing and going down the baby slide. We have also been to the zoo, and he clapped throughout the whole dolphin show. He is such a joy to have in our home."
And then a little later we got this update:
"Nathan is adjusting wonderfully. We took him for a physical and blood work, and the doctor told us Nathan was clearly well cared for (which we, of course, already knew!). He doesn't have the common malnutrition markers, low vitamin D and iron that the doctor normally sees in internationally adopted children.
We have a hip brace for Nathan that he is wearing when he sleeps to try to loosen his hip muscles. We are getting him fitted for foot braces on Monday. He already is making great strides with the scissor legs and tip toe standing. His sunny disposition is so wonderful!
One of the things the international adoption clinic doctor told me is that he typically sees an underlying expression of angst in adopted children's faces for the first month or two they are in their new home. He said there is such an aura of peace about Nathan that he feels joy just walking into the room to see Nathan. I would like to thank whoever taught Nathan how to blow kisses, that is so endearing!"
We were privileged to be part of Nathan's life in China and we thank all who support us in our work. Together we are making a difference for China's orphans.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Last week, China celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional holiday that’s marked by family gatherings, big meals, and tasty treats. At our Early Education Center, where we work with young orphans, we celebrated the holiday in true culinary style.
The traditional food you can find lining store shelves all over China this time of year is the mooncake. These little pastries, usually round in shape to represent unity and longevity, are filled with sweet and savory fillings. So what better way to celebrate than to have a cooking class at our school?
Everyone donned their aprons and sat glued to their seats, clinging to the teachers’ words as they were introduced to the mooncake-making process. Teachers pointed out each kitchen tool and its use: the cutting board, rolling pin, and moon cake molds.
They loved rolling out the dough and pressing it into a bunch of different molds.
When it came time to bake their creations, the kids sang a song in their seats while they waited.
Soon, the mooncakes were done baking. The kids grabbed the warm cakes and wolfed them down, complimenting themselves on a job well done. One child called over his teacher and told her, “Teacher, have a bite! It’s really tasty!”
These hot mooncakes really warmed everyone’s hearts and bellies. It was a wonderful way to celebrate a holiday that’s all about togetherness.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Here’s part two of our Group Home 2 photo story. See our intro in part one here. These photos were taken the same day, that afternoon while the family prepared lunch and went for an afternoon walk. As we mentioned in the introduction, these photos were taken on Ying's (the little girl in the rainbow dress) last day with the family before her new adoptive parents came to pick her up!
Thanks to Keiko at Not an Illusion Productions for her photographs.