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Mar 26, 2020

COVID-19: Now our Teacher is on TV!

Remote learning keeps kids engaged!
Remote learning keeps kids engaged!

In China the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak means there has been no school for over a month. Thankfully, for these children, they are part of OneSky’s Loving Families Program, where parents and teachers are working together to keep them active and entertained during this unprecedented time. Thank you for supporting our Loving Families Program – now more important than ever …

For Loving Mom Xiaojuan, keeping her children happy and busy during isolation has been a challenge. To this end she’s been sharing ideas for online lessons with her foster children’s preschool teacher.

While their special needs may mean adoption is unlikely, the program ensures children like those in her care have permanent loving foster homes.

“As their loving mom, I felt so proud to be part of the course design,” said Xiaojuan. “I have been discussing online with the teachers about the children’s current development. We talked about what kind of interaction with the children would be suitable and it was useful to receive their help on how to play it on our TV.”

Repeated messages on heightened hygiene levels have also meant teachers have been able to focus on wider life lessons. Brushing their teeth has also been an online subject.

“Protecting their teeth is essential for the children,” said Family Mentor Li. “I wanted to teach them in the form of storytelling. So, I drew a picture book myself. Using drawing books and fun language to interact with children can be effective in video teaching.”

The lessons have also meant that under-pressure parents like Xiaojuan have been able to grab a little extra time to get on with the many tasks required to care for the children.

“This online learning has freed us a bit especially when we were busy cooking and doing chores at home. I’m so grateful to the teachers,” she said.

With school return dates as yet uncertain, teachers continue to meet remotely and discuss online teaching methods and content.

“We design our online courses based on the feedback of the loving moms and their children’s current needs,” said Li. “I am glad that the method has continued to serve as the main links between homes and schools, teachers and students and the children and their friends.”

Thank you again for your continued support! To read more stories about the children we serve, click here.

Learning about hygiene is fun!
Learning about hygiene is fun!
Mar 16, 2020

Zhenzhen: A Little Girl Who No Longer Plays Alone

No longer playing alone!
No longer playing alone!

In a corner of the activity room in her rural village in China, 5-year-old Zhenzhen sat alone, quietly playing by herself. She watched as other children laughed and played together, but they all stayed away. Until that all changed, thanks to the dedication her OneSky trained mentor...

The first time the OneSky trained mentor saw the lonely child, she noticed that the little girl’s clothes were soiled and that she seemed unkempt. Filled with sympathy for the child— and believing that her disheveled appearance was keeping the other children away—she sat down on the floor, and began to play with her. Soon after, she decided to pay her a home visit.

When the mentor knocked on the front door of the little girl’s house, she was greeted by Zhenzhen, who answered the door, smiling shyly, her dad standing behind her. As the mentor entered the house, she could see it was in disarray.

She learned that Zhenzhen lives with her parents and three siblings. Her mom, Yanling, is developmentally delayed and can only do limited housework. Her dad, Junsheng, is the breadwinner in the family. He struggles to make a living by cultivating some farmland. Apart from harvest seasons, he does odd jobs with the village’s construction team. But recent back problems had forced him to take time off. He was having a hard time keeping up with the children’s needs.

During the home visit, the mentor encouraged Zhenzhen’s mother to establish daily routines and help the children get in the habit of washing their faces and brushing their teeth. “They can learn to do those things on their own,” she told Yanling. “Besides that, make sure they have on clean and neat clothes each day. That will help them feel comfortable and confident.”

She urged Zhenzhen’s parents to send her to the village’s communal Children’s Center as often as possible, so that she could take part in more group activities that are good for her development and would help her socialize more with the other kids. She even offered to pick up Zhenzhen herself if her dad was too busy.

“Thank you, ” said Zhenzhen’s dad. “We are very willing to take your advice. It’s a good thing to let her learn and gain more knowledge and skills.” Yanling, too, nodded in agreement and seemed to really trust OneSky’s mentor.

From then on, the mentor visited Zhenzhen’s home frequently to provide follow-up and encouragement on Zhenzhen’s behalf. She continued to teach her parents how to focus on their children’s needs and give responsive care.

Soon when Zhenzhen came to the Children’s Center, her clothes were clean. She had become more confident and secure. In fact, she made many friends and was always smiling! She even led the other children in games and loved it when her friends followed and imitated her. In one of her favorites, the children all jumped around like “beans in a frying pan.”

Zhenzhen also really likes music. During music time in the Children’s Center, she enjoyed dancing to the tunes along with her mentor, who noticed that she has a good sense of rhythm.

In the “reading through playing” activity—one of the center’s popular activities—the mentor noticed that Zhenzhen was particularly interested in the story of Snow White. So, one day, when Zhenzhen was stacking building blocks, the mentor joined her and said, “Zhenzhen, your building blocks are so tall. Shall we build a castle for Snow White together?”

Zhenzhen quickly said “Yes!”

So, they worked together, and soon a beautiful Snow White’s castle was completed. Zhenzhen added a small path in front of the castle. “This road is for Snow White to walk on. It leads to her castle,” she said.

“Fantastic! You have a very creative imagination,” said the mentor.

During a recent home visit, she told Zhenzhen’s parents about all her progress. And she was pleasantly surprised to find out that Zhenzhen had been making progress at home as well; not just washing her face and brushing her teeth, but being more polite.

“Now Zhenzhen has become much more thoughtful,” her father said. “She immediately apologized to her sister after arguing with her. I asked her who taught her to say ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ and she said it was you. I can’t thank you enough for teaching her so well!”

To read more updates about work on behalf of vulnerable children, be sure to go to our story website page.

Playtime is fun!
Playtime is fun!
Feb 18, 2020

How Some Families Spent Their Lunar New Year

Home for the holiday!
Home for the holiday!

Vietnam’s Lunar New Year (Tet) is all about family. For many it’s their only chance to be together. In this special report, we share how some of the parents, children and teachers of OneSky’s Early Learning Center (ELC) in Da Nang chose to celebrate the holiday.

The Center was set up to help the children of rural migrant workers. For most of these families, the New Year is their only chance to travel home to visit their wider family.

Here are a couple of their Tet stories.

A Time to Teach Children Traditions and Values

Nhi (1-year-old) and Phong (5) both go to the ELC. Their parents are from Quang Nam province, 200 km south of Da Nang. The parents’ homes are very near to each other. They’d grown up knowing each other. After they were married, they moved to Da Nang to find jobs in the industrial zone.

Their mom, Lan, works at a factory that makes and exports handbags, while their dad, Tien, works at a flour mill.

Tien works night shifts. He starts at 3am and finishes at 1pm. After his shift, he often goes to the ELC and helps out. As he says: “I owe the ELC so much and I want to give back.”

Ahead of the Tet holiday, at the ELC’s recent Spring Festival, the whole family was showing people how to make their own banh chung – a traditional food celebrating the Lunar New Year and made from glutinous rice, mung beans, and pork.

Making banh chung is a tradition in Tien’s family. Tien learned to make it as a child and his family often sold them at the market for extra income at this time of year.

Because they are both working parents, Tien really values Tet. He sees it as not just a wonderful opportunity for the family to be together, but also a time to teach their children New Year traditions and family values.

Siblings Chose Work in the City Over Farming in the Countryside

Nhan was one of the first teachers to join the ELC when it opened in 2017.

Nhan is from Quang Binh, a town 400 kms away from Da Nang. Like many other young students, she left her hometown to go to university in Da Nang, then settled in the city after graduation. There was only farming work back home.

Her three siblings all work in different cities; she is the closest to home.

The Lunar New Year is the only opportunity for a full family reunion. It took a six-hour overnight coach ride to see the whole family again.

Thanh (15 months) is in the youngest in his class at the ELC. His parents are from Quang Trach, Quang Binh, which is over 320 km from Da Nang.

The young couple knew each other from their hometown, but the only available work was farming. They decided to move to Da Nang to find work in factories.

But living so far from wider family support can make life very difficult.

“After my six months maternity leave, I had to go back to work at the factory,” explained Thanh’s mother, Thuy. “My mother traveled from our hometown to Da Nang, to help me look after Thanh, so that I could work. But my father was unwell and she had to return to farming – their only source of income.

“Luckily, I heard about OneSky and got a place for my son. It was such a big relief for my family and my parents.”

Despite the long six-hour overnight coach trip to her hometown, Thuy was very excited to return. Tet is the only time when her big family can reunite.

*To read more stories about the work that OneSky does, please visit the story page on our website!

Lunar New Year is a time for families.
Lunar New Year is a time for families.
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