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Oct 3, 2019

Abandoned Children Learn their Lives have Value

Memory Books are fun to share!
Memory Books are fun to share!

Thank you for your generous support of our work in China’s orphanages. We hope you enjoy this story about the special Memory Books we give to the children living there—children who arrive with no story. So, we help them write their own…

Over the past 20 years, almost 40,000 caregivers have been trained to use the OneSky Approach, to help abandoned children love, learn and develop.

OneSky’s responsive care allows children to learn how to form relationships — a skill vital for future happiness, a feeling of self-worth and a healthy sense of self.

As these pictures from a Chinese orphanage show, Memory Books are an important way for OneSky staff to relate to the children in their care.

In a Memory Book, a child’s milestones are celebrated. As a child grows and progresses, caregivers add updates and pictures — just as a mother or father would do. The book isn’t filed away, but always available so each child has access. Children can look at it with caregivers, friends or by themselves.

And if adopted or fostered, children take the books with them. Memory Books are theirs to keep.

Jenny Bowen founded OneSky 20 years ago, inspired by what she learned about the power of love after she adopted a child from a Chinese orphanage. Just as a lack of love leaves children developmentally delayed, she found nurturing care could turn lives around.

Memory Books, kept for each child, are an important way for children to feel cared for and loved — to feel they matter.

“Beyond the love, hugs, learning and laughter of day-to-day childcare we found that Memory Books can play an important role,” says Jenny. “An abandoned child arrives with no story, but that starts to change from day one. Caregivers document progress. We found making this available to a child is hugely beneficial.

“When children are shown they are loved and cared for, their development can progress naturally,” Jenny adds. “Even from such a young age, they can start to understand their own progress. They can be proud of their development and themselves. Their lives are no longer a blank, and whatever the future holds, this is their book, their life.”

Memory Books have become a key part of the OneSky Approach not only in Chinese orphanages but in the care of children in Vietnam and
Mongolia.

“Ultimately we get to write our own story, but we all need help to make a start,” says Jenny.

Writing a new future...
Writing a new future...
Sep 23, 2019

Kaikai's Overwhelmed Grandfather Gets Help

Kaikai and his grandfather share a moment.
Kaikai and his grandfather share a moment.

Kaikai’s grandfather, Zhigang, was doing the best he could, but his own health was deteriorating under the pressure of taking care of his wife, who is bedridden, his father, who is over 80, and his grandson. Read on to find out how we help left-behind children like Kaikai, who live in China’s rural village, thanks to supporters like you!

For eleven months after his birth, Kaikai’s mom had been at home to help, but in order to lessen the family’s financial burdens she, like Kaikai’s dad before her, left the village to find work leaving the household in her 57-year-old father’s hands.

Living in a household with three aging family members, Kaikai gradually became very shy and afraid of strangers and seldom communicated or interacted with others. Zhigang thought Kaikai might also have physical problems because he kept his mouth open most of the time and drooled excessively. Though his grandfather was anxious and distressed about his grandson’s development, he felt helpless about his ability to provide the kind of care Kaikai needed.

Happily, help was available at OneSky’s Family Center where trained Family Mentors provide parenting skills training, including on-site demonstrations, for overwhelmed caregivers like Kaikai’s grandfather. At the Center, OneSky’s trained mentors assessed Kaikai thoroughly and determined that despite his grandfather’s fears, his physical and cognitive development was good, though his language development was slow.

OneSky’s family mentors urged Zhigang to take Kaikai outdoors more and to bring him to the Family Center more often so they could help him come up with caregiver-child activities to promote his grandson’s healthy development. They also encouraged him to talk more to Kaikai at home, advice he dutifully followed. For example, when Zhigang did housework, he started telling Kaikai what he was doing and asking him to help when he could safely do so. Now that he was living in a less-silent household, Kaikai started understanding and remembering more vocabulary easily.

OneSky’s family mentor Zhenzhen also assured Kaikai’s grandfather that his excessive drooling did not stem from a physical deformity telling him, “Please do not worry. You will see improvement after some training exercises.”  When Zhenzhen  and her colleague visited the family at home, they designed a “boat blowing” game for Kaikai. They put some water in a basin and then placed a paper boat in it. The mentors demonstrated the game first and then asked the grandfather to guide Kaikai to blow the boat around the basin. Kaikai loved the game and in the process learned to use his lungs more effectively. At the end of the home visit, the family mentors suggested similar games like blowing bubbles, whistling, and blowing up balloons. The mentors’ advice and practical suggestions enhanced Zhigang’s confidence that he could provide the care his grandson needs.

Thanks to the united efforts of OneSky-trained family mentors and his grandfather, Kaikai, who is now 18 months old, has become livelier and even takes the initiative to smile and say hello to each of his teachers. Now, no matter how busy and discouraged he is, Zhigang makes the time to bring Kaikai to the OneSky Family Center regularly where he knows that, despite the challenges of caring for his grandson while also caring for his wife and father, he will always find help.

 

Stay tuned for further reports from the field!

Getting the help they need...
Getting the help they need...
Aug 22, 2019

Vietnamese Preschoolers Turn Trash into Toys

Toys, toys and more toys!
Toys, toys and more toys!

Thank you for your continued support of children of factory workers in Vietnam. We hope you enjoy this field report about how some of the preschoolers we serve are working together to help fight Vietnam’s new war on trash. Read on to find out how—for these kids—there’s no such thing as single-use plastic!

 

Suddenly Vietnam’s plastics problem is big news.

Recently, state media VN Express profiled the problem with the headline: “As environmental concerns rise, are Vietnamese finally paying heed to trash?”.

In 2015, Vietnam was named one of five countries that dump more trash into the oceans than the rest of the world combined. The country generates over 70,000 tons of waste daily. Plus, last year it imported 9.2 million tons of plastic scrap.

Teachers at OneSky’s Early Learning Center (ELC) in Da Nang are very much aware that, for the children they teach, Vietnam’s environment will have a huge effect on their lives.

The ELC was set up specifically to meet the needs of children of rural migrants. Across Vietnam, changing weather conditions are one of the main reasons people are leaving rural areas in search of factory work in the city.

And while Da Nang is famed for its beautiful coastline and growing tourist industry, increased flooding during rainy season and seas filling with trash mean the city has its own environmental problems.

“The ELC is a pilot program. It cares for nearly 250 children but reaches thousands more via the training we offer to home-based carers,” said OneSky program director Vo Thi Hien.

“That will extend nation-wide in the future with 19 more provinces. Our resources are limited. We train caregivers and encourage parents to recycle because it’s free for them and fun for kids. It’s also a way to minimize our own waste and teach these children about the environment and their responsibilities to keep their country clean.”

 

*We look forward to bringing you future happenings from our work in Vietnam.To read more stories about how OneSky helps vulnerable kids, please visit the story page on our website!

Plants - what better way to learn about nature?
Plants - what better way to learn about nature?
Toothbrush holders - for that pre-nap brush!
Toothbrush holders - for that pre-nap brush!
 
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