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Jul 2, 2019

Lili's Story: On Coming Full Circle

Once cared for, Lili is now a caregiver.
Once cared for, Lili is now a caregiver.

Thank you for your generous support of our work in China’s orphanages. We hope you enjoy this story about a special young woman named Lili. Formerly helped by OneSky, Lili is now giving back by serving as a caregiver for abandoned children. Often, the children she helps become part of our Loving Families Program, providing permanent loving foster homes for children whose physical, emotional or cognitive challenges are likely to preclude their adoption. Until then, dedicated caregivers like Lili, using our OneSky Approach, are there for them…


When Lili was abandoned and sent to an orphanage as a baby 22 years ago, none of her devoted caregivers could ever have foreseen that one day she would grow up to be just like them. 

Born with polio and given up by parents who were unable to care for her, Lili grew up in the Children’s Welfare Institution located in a southern town of China. She still lives there today and works as a OneSky-trained volunteer, caring for infants who, similarly, have been given up by their parents. She also holds a part-time job teaching a handicraft class for the orphanage’s Youth Program.

“If there weren’t an adult taking care of me when I was a baby, I would not have survived today!” Lili said emotionally, adding: “I’m fine with doing more work and feeling tired, as long as I see those babies growing up knowing they are loved. Their situation reminds me of what I have been through. Now I am giving back and helping orphans like me.”

Lili only discovered her natural ability to help hurt children after she entered OneSky’s Youth Program and met her youth mentor, who has now become her life mentor.

“Lili was shy and did not talk much when I first met her. Then I discovered  she couldn’t speak Mandarin, only the local dialect, and was afraid to talk,” recalled her mentor.  “She was so eager to learn. I saw that desire in her eyes!”

The mentor taught Lili to write and speak Mandarin every day. She was a diligent student. Today, Lili is confident and speaks fluent Mandarin and is doing a great job of looking after the babies and very young children—instinctively knowing how to care for them and form a loving bond with them quickly. The mentor cited a child named Doudou as a good example of Lili’s natural ability.

Lili recalled that when she first held Doudou, who was a premature baby and weighed less than 1.4 kilograms, she said: “Don’t be afraid, sweetheart. I will feed you well and take good care of you.”

For several months, Lili sacrificed her own sleep to feed Doudou every two hours around the clock. Thanks to her tremendous efforts, Doudou became stronger and took on a healthy, chubby appearance. In fact, Doudou improved so much that she was soon adopted out of the orphanage by a loving family.

The bittersweet happening caused Lili to miss Doudou terribly, but she was thrilled that the young girl finally had a family.

After saying goodbye to Doudou, Lili put her heart and soul into helping more children. Yuanyuan, a fragile and skinny little girl got sick frequently and seemed without joy.

Knowing that individual attention and nurturing care would benefit Yuanyuan most, Lili  asked for the orphanage’s permission to help watch over her. Once given the OK, she began to feed and touch the child lovingly every day. Months later, Yuanyuan’s physical and emotional development has progressed and her cheeks have become rosy and lively. Today, she is studying in the OneSky Preschool Program.

As they watch Lili interact with children like Yuanyuan and Doudou, all of the orphanage staff marvel over her wonderful job of giving back to the institution she herself was raised in. They will readily concur that Lili has helped save many children’s lives there. But, always humble, Lili simply calls it “her mission” to help such at-risk kids. Lili credits her mentor with serving as a role model, and giving her the tools to help as many vulnerable children as possible.

From being once cared for to now being a caregiver, Lili said she feels complete—and that she has, indeed, come full circle.


You can read more stories about the children we serve here:

Lili has a special touch with babies.
Lili has a special touch with babies.
Jun 25, 2019

Study Confirms Damage Done to Left-Behind Children

Left-behind children are at risk. OneSky can help.
Left-behind children are at risk. OneSky can help.

Left-behind children—such as those we serve in China’s rural villages— have increased risk of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, conduct disorder, substance use, wasting and stunting, as compared to children of non-migrants.


That was the conclusion of a major new study released last year in The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, which is among the world's oldest, most prestigious, and best known medical journals.

Its findings include the recommendation:

“Parental migration is detrimental to the health of left-behind children and adolescents, with no evidence of any benefit. Policy makers and health-care professionals need to take action to improve the health of these young people.”

This was the largest and most comprehensive study to date to assess the impact of parental migration on all key areas of child and adolescent health across low-income and middle-income countries.

The report funded by the Wellcome Trust outlines:

“In China, where the most research has been done to date, studies have shown poorer nutritional, developmental and mental health outcomes in left-behind children than children of non-migrant parents.” (Read the report in full here.)

OneSky’s approach to working in China’s rural villages offers an affordable and replicable approach to mitigating the damage done to young children left behind by parents who have migrated away for work. In fact, at any given time, up to 85% of the parents are away.

We offer parenting skills and responsive care training, benefiting infants, toddlers, and their preschool-aged siblings, delivered to grandparents, parents, or other primary caregivers, with a focus on providing nurturing care in daily life, with an emphasis on attachment and bonding, brain development and stimulation, and on fostering early communication.

We also offer programs promoting community engagement, geared toward strengthening now disintegrating rural communities and providing a nurturing home for young children despite parental absence by offering trainer-facilitated village gatherings, monthly community projects (community garden, field trips and treasure hunts with preschoolers, etc.), and cooperative childcare to give weary grandparents regular respite.

Read about OneSky’s work with left-behind children in China’s rural villages.

May 29, 2019

A Special Field Trip for Preschoolers

A special outing!
A special outing!

Thank you for your continued support of children of factory workers in Vietnam. We hope you enjoy this story about a special factory visit by preschoolers enrolled in our program. We look forward to bringing you future reports from our work in Vietnam.


There’s so much that’s different about OneSky’s Early Learning Center (ELC) in Da Nang, Vietnam, but one detail truly sets it apart.

The center was set up specifically for the children of rural migrants working in the surrounding factory zone. Parents of the children have all moved from countryside to city, looking for work so they can provide for their families. Across Vietnam, 60 percent of all factory workers are rural migrants.

But having found work, many soon realize reliable childcare is hard to find—and that’s where OneSky’s ELC and training programs have stepped in to help.

Recently, more than one hundred of the ELC’s older kids – aged three to six – got to see for themselves the kind of place where Mom and Dad work so hard. Teachers took them on a field trip to a nearby factory, so they had a better understanding of what their parents do all day.

“Factories play a major part in their lives. It’s where their parents go six days a week,” said Vo Thi Hien, OneSky Vietnam Program Director. “This is why they come home tired. Earning an income helps pay for the food they eat and the clothes they wear. You could see the children taking in so much on their trip.

“The Early Learning Center is providing the best possible start for these children. It also gives parents peace of mind. As the center has become more established it has also grown a community of factory workers who provide their own mutual support, somewhere children and parents can spend time together. We welcome parents to spend time using our facilities with their children.”

With places at the ELC limited, most local working parents have to rely on home-based caregivers. So, as part of the ELC pilot, OneSky also provides training for women running these facilities.

Read more about OneSky’s Migrant Model.


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

Hard to say goodbye...
Hard to say goodbye...
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