The Lighthouse – Expecting Babies!
For the past year and a half, the ‘Lighthouse Project’ has been home to our 6 children and young people aged 10+ who have multi-disabilities. They have all flourished living in their home with an amazing team. They live on an amazing site in a converted French monastery in North Beijing.
Now we have been able to renovate more of the site, and we are going to open up some more of it as an Early Intervention Centre for babies. Five little ones have just moved in, and we are so excited to see them grow up!
The babies are all aged between 1-2 years old, and they include Yang Yang (Richard), Chen Fei (Faith), Yan Feng (Freddie), Qiu Ye (Luke) and Peng Peng (Priscilla).
Yang Yang and Qiu Ye even have little videos about them!
Early intervention is vitally important in the lives of children. Learning to walk, talk, play and love requires a lot of attention and love from Bethel China's caregivers and teachers. As well as this, there is a medical aspect to early intervention. Children born with some eye conditions can be treated to prevent vision loss, but in the majority of cases it should be treated before the age of 3 years.
Apart from these reasons, we also think that babies are so cute and we want to cuddle them from as early an age as possible!
Once these babies are settled, we hope to open up the home to welcome more children. More importantly, we want the Lighthouse Baby Home to be an example of good quality early intervention for blind children in China.
To sponsor one of these babies, or any of the other children in Bethel China's care, please visit www.bethelchina.org/sponsor-a-child. Payments can be set up monthly through Global Giving.
Thank you for your support!
Bethel China is getting ready to celebrate 10 years of working with orphans with visual impairments! On the 13th December 2003, Guillaume and Delphine Gauvain took 3 blind orphans into their home in Beijing, China.
The Bethel family grew and grew, moving into larger homes, establishing a primary school, homes in the city to encourage independent living, a safe space for children with multi-disabilities, a home inside a government orphanage and educational outreach training for parents and orphanages across China.
From just 3 children, over 140 children have now been a part of Bethel China’s family in the past 10 years. We continue to see life transformation happen on a daily basis, as children learn to grow in a safe and loving environment.
Whether you have been following Bethel every step of the way or just became a new sponsor in the past year, thank you for your support for Bethel China. We could not be where we are without the individual contributions of so many people. Stay with us as we journey on through the next 10 years!
If you are in Beijing, don’t miss our 10 year anniversary party!
Read all about Our Story on Bethel’s website.
As children become teenagers, it is even more important that we treat them as individuals.
Dong Fang (Eric) is a 12-year-old boy who has been in Bethel’s care for three years. He is very clever. He had never learned Braille before coming to Bethel, and after just a few weeks, he could read! He was one in the first group of children who started going to the Beijing School for the Blind.
Dong Fang’s first year at school was a struggle. As he is very clever and picks things up quickly, he was often bored in class, and he chose to push the boundaries of what he could get away with. He frequently ran away from his school classroom and his teachers were very angry. They resorted to asking his ayis to always stand outside the door to catch him on his way out.
Eventually, his ayis and teachers realised that whenever Dong Fang ran away from class, he headed straight for the elevator. He has a very technical mind and he loves anything to do with engineering. He kept asking questions about how the elevator worked.
At the beginning of the semester in March this year, Dong Fang was told that if he stayed at school during his classes, worked hard, and passed his exams, then he would be able to visit an elevator factory for his birthday. Thinking of this reward was the motivation that he needed. He worked hard, and during the summer holidays, he was allowed to visit the Schindler Offices in Beijing.
The Schindler team were wonderful! They spent some time giving the kids a presentation about the electronics behind elevators, and told them about the fastest and strongest ones in the world. Their presentation was fun, interactive and creative-perfect for children who are blind.
After the presentations, they took the kids to the escalators and elevators to see how the theories are put into practice. The whole day was very hands on and educational.
Dong Fang loved it! At the end, the Schindler team gave him a hat for his birthday.
The kids that we have at Bethel are like any other child. Each one is very different, they need different motivations, goals and rewards, and they need to be treated as individuals. It was a wonderful experience for Dong Fang’s caregivers and teachers to see him so excited to learn about different engineering projects. He is such a sweet boy!
Thank you for supporting Bethel’s vision to see every child with a visual life life to the fullest. We believe that children like Dong Fang can grow up to be an engineer. He has the mind, and the drive, and the determination to do so. It is our job to give our kids the opportunities to learn about different careers that they can work towards.
We have expanded our vision to support children with visual impairments in China, not just orphans, but also children who still have parents. Bethel has found that that the parents of visually impaired children are often isolated, feel alone and don’t have the resources to teach their children how to grow and learn and live life to the fullest.
During the last week of June, Bethel’s Project 555 held a workshop on how to care for and educate young children with visual impairments. Over 20 parents (and grandparents) who have young children with blindness, 10 participants came from orphanages, foster homes and schools attended the week of training workshops.
We were happy to welcome many parents and grandparents to the training so that they could become better equipped to meet their children’s needs. In China there are special schools for children with blindness who are of primary school age and above, but it is difficult to find a pre-school or kindergarten. Bethel hopes to fill in the gap by providing training and other resources to parents. By the end of the week, everyone on the team had got to know one another. Having a community of people in the same situation helps everyone realise that they are not alone.
The workshop covered many topics, including early childhood development, low vision, braille, fine motor skills, self-help skills and sensory integration. 8 of Bethel's teachers from our school taught the classes.
During the workshop week, participants were taught how to guide a person who is blind, how to use an adaptive mobility device, and how to use a white cane. They were blindfolded to try all of these skills. By having these experiences with the blindfold, participants will be better able to help their children learn the skills.
Another workshop topic was art, taught by Teacher Yang, a teacher at Bethel’s Doudian Center. In the art class, participants had a paper with a raised line shape already on it, such as a flower. Using tactile materials such as tissue paper with glue, they could create a tactile picture that they could feel and enjoy later.
Our kids who live at Bethel receive great care and education, but they are still orphans, without a family to call their own. To be in a family is still the most important aspect of a child's development, and so we hope that in reaching out to parents, we can help to reduce the number of visually impaired children in orphanages, in a small way.
We hope that everyone left the training feeling equipped and encouraged!
Bethel’s City Life Project is arguably Bethel’s most important project in terms of preparing kids for independent living in Chinese society. Our 9 children in this project have thrived on the daily routine and structure of a public school environment and we are blessed to say that they do all love school (apart from their endless piles of homework)!
Outside of receiving a high-quality education, the kids live in their own homes with caregivers who act as a parent, teaching practical life skills such as how to cook, buy groceries, run a household, but also how to share, be generous, and other moral and social principles. Like a parent, their caregivers also have to discipline them, giving them appropriate punishments for bad behaviour.
Without this project, these children (growing up into teenagers) would most likely still be living in institutional care, often with 20 plus others, with little access to education and stimulating activities. None of the nine children in this project had received adequate education before Bethel. After the children turn 14, they lose the opportunity to be adopted into a family, and so we at Bethel are committed to being their family for the rest of thier lives.
Those who come into contact with our kids are impressed and amazed by their characters, knowledge and social skills. They are far from being perfect children, but we are so proud of them for achieving what they have considering their difficult starts in life.
Here is Pan Pan’s story:
Pan Pan came to Bethel in 2009 when he was seven years old. He had been attending a school for children with visual impairments close to his orphanage, but he didn’t have good enough self-help skills to be able to stay there, having not been taught to orient himself and walk, go to the bathroom or eat by himself.
When he first arrived at Bethel, his teachers focused his whole first year’s education on self-help skills. After a while, he learned how to read Braille. He is a very good student, he loves singing and music, and last summer had the opportunity to go and sing in an event in Qingdao…and go to the beach! He will be 11 years old this year. He is a lovely boy and we are so proud of his progress.
Thank you for your continued support to Bethel!
Help us to spread the word:
We are looking for new sponsors for the school year starting in September 2013. We’ve found that having a number of sponsors for each project makes things much more sustainable, and so we’re trying to find 15-20 new sponsors, who can each contribute around $5000USD for the year, which together will add up to comprehensively cover the costs of this project.
Although nine children may seem like a small number, our vision is to see life-transformation for each and every visually impaired child in China. If you are interested in partnering with us on this project (or know an individual, company or foundation who may be interested), please email info(a)bethelchina.org.
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