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Apr 8, 2019

The OneSky Approach for Children in Orphanages

Family-like love brings joy to orphaned children!
Family-like love brings joy to orphaned children!

An orphanage is a terrible place to raise a child. But in some countries, orphanages are still the primary destination for children who have been separated from their families. While far from a perfect solution, until deinstitutionalization becomes the norm, the OneSky Approach to helping children living in orphanages provides orphaned and abandoned children a family-like home.

Thank you for your generous past support of our work in China’s orphanages! We hope you enjoy this latest brief report giving an overview of how our work helps abandoned children living in institutions…


Today, the OneSky Approach is China’s national standard for the care of institutionalized children. At its heart are three simple, replicable programs that offer young children the responsive care and loving attention they need in order to thrive:


Infant Nurture Program
Women from the local community are trained to provide nurturing, responsive care and stimulation for orphaned babies and toddlers. Attentive to the tremendous gains infants make in the early years of life – physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually – each nanny is assigned 3-4 babies and treats them as her very own.

Experienced early childhood educators are taught a unique and progressive curriculum that blends responsive care and some elements of Italy’s Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education with local kindergarten standards. The program is designed to prepare the children to develop intellectual curiosity and a love of learning, succeed in community schools, and attain the positive sense of self so often missing in institutionalized children.

Loving Families
Married couples who have already raised a family but still have room in their hearts are recruited from the local community to provide permanent loving foster homes for children whose physical, emotional or cognitive challenges are likely to preclude their adoption. Children who would otherwise spend their lives in institutional care, grow up knowing the love of a family while also receiving the special care that our early intervention programs provide.


Click here to read more stories about children served through our Orphanage Program!

Children no longer feel alone...
Children no longer feel alone...
Apr 1, 2019

It Takes a Village!

Learning to jump is an important milestone.
Learning to jump is an important milestone.

Thank you for supporting our continued efforts in China’s rural villages. We hope you enjoy this report from the field about our work measuring the development of left-behind children.

Can your four-year-old catch a ball? How about hopping two meters? Or pedaling a tricycle?For most children, these successes over time would represent natural development. Before the first birthday, a child should be able to roll over. By two, walk without support. By three, go downstairs unaided…

But for children who don’t receive all the love, care and stimulation they need, development can be delayed.That’s frequently the case for millions of children in rural China. Last year there were almost seven million “left-behind children” in China.

In villages where OneSky works, as many as 85 percent of the parents have left to find work in cities. The vast majority of children left behind are cared for by grandparents. These elderly caregivers, frequently exhausted from daily farm work, often lack time and energy children require. But without that time, energy and attention from caring adults, children’s development may lag.

Measuring Children’s Progress

That’s one of the many ways OneSky is helping children and grandparents in rural villages. As part of its Family Skills training and support, OneSky family mentors help grandparents measure progress of the children in their care. By 6-years-old, for example, it’s hoped a child can use chopsticks skillfully.

When children struggle, the list helps grandparents and mentors identify problems early. They can encourage children to try new activities, develop new skills, and help them meet new milestones. The aim is to help each child gain confidence and skill at their own pace.

Their Most Important Teacher

“While the checklist gives us a good snapshot of progress, it’s important that we don’t compare peers,” says Alice Wong, OneSky Senior Director, Global Programs. Instead, she explained, each child’s accomplishments are measured from one period to the next.

Thanks to OneSky trained mentors, grandparents are now learning how to help every step of the way, offering love, encouragement and celebrating progress.

“Engaging grandparents in the process not only raises awareness of typical milestones,” adds Alice. “It also reinforces their role as the child’s most important teacher.”


OneSky-inspired program models in China’s rural villages are designed to teach communities and caregivers how to mitigate the damage done to young children left behind by migrant parents who have moved away to find work in faraway cities.

*Find out more about OneSky’s work helping left-behind children in rural China.


It truly takes a village to help raise a child!
It truly takes a village to help raise a child!
Feb 26, 2019

A New Life for Thoa and her Baby Boy

Mom and son share a moment.
Mom and son share a moment.

Thank you for your support of children of factory workers in Vietnam. We hope you enjoy this story about a young mother’s determination to forge a better life for her son. We look forward to bringing you future reports from our work in Vietnam.

When Thoa was 20 years old she moved to Da Nang, which is far away from her hometown in Nghe An Province. In Nghe An, the main industry is farming, but there is always a risk of damage to the crops during the four-month rainy season. At first Thoa’s transition to the big city went smoothly when she found work at a toy factory in Hoa Khanh Industrial Zone, one of the six largest industrial parks in Da Nang.

Then Thoa met her future husband, Hai. Though Hai was unemployed, and they had been dating only a few months, the couple decided to get married so Thoa’s 75-year-old mother, who was very ill, could attend the wedding. However, Hai’s parents said the couple could only marry if Thoa ensured a grandson by getting pregnant.

Soon after Hai’s family gave that ultimatum, Thoa became pregnant. Although both families are poor and Thoa’s income from the factory is low, she saved carefully so she and Hai could travel back to her hometown for an engagement ceremony and to welcome her baby, who she had learned would be a son.  Though she was excited to be having a baby, Thoa by then had realized that Hai is an alcoholic, but she was hoping that after their baby was born, he would stop drinking and finally find a job.

Her hopes quickly faded when, one day, Thoa was rushed to the emergency room of a nearby hospital for treatment of a pregnancy-related illness. She called Hai, asking him to buy a thermos bottle for her so she could save money by making instant noodles instead of eating expensive hospital food. Hai promised to bring a thermos bottle to the hospital, but he never showed up. After a few hours, Thoa was very hungry and at first relieved when she finally reached Hai on the phone, but then he quickly confessed: “I’ve spent all my money on alcohol. I don’t have any money left to buy you anything.”

It was at the moment, lying in a hospital bed, that Thoa decided she would raise her son by herself, without any help from Hai because she didn’t want her baby to grow up and become like his father. When Thien Bao was born on Christmas day, Thoa looked at her newborn baby and vowed she would do everything she could to provide the very best for her child.

Still Thoa’s vow hasn’t proved easy to fulfil without help. Hai has never attempted to contact her or meet his son. Neither have his parents and, sadly, Thoa’s mother died before she could meet her grandson. That left Thoa to take care of her newborn and her 85-year-old father, Nam, whose health is failing. When Bao was five months old Thoa had no choice but to put him into a home-based care center so she could go back to work to support the family.

Then Nam fell and became bed-bound after his accident. The entire provision for the family of three fell on Thoa’s shoulders, on her meagre factory salary of $135 per month. Because she spent over half of her monthly salary on Bao’s day care, Thoa could only afford to rent a tiny 15-meter square room… just enough space to fit one bed for the whole family to share. The family’s cramped quarters mean that the bed is where Bao plays, sleeps, and eats.

At his home-based day care, Bao was also left in a crib most of the time because there was only one caregiver to look after eight children, all under three years old. Given the lack of stimulation, Thoa became very worried about her baby’s well-being. One day, when sharing her concerns with work colleagues at the factory, they recommended the OneSky Early Learning Center (ELC) where other working parents said their children were thriving in a safe, loving, and nurturing environment at an affordable price. “That seems too good to be true,” was Thoa’s first reaction.

Still Thoa decided to apply.  Bao was offered a place at the ELC when he was 8 months old. Any doubts about Bao’s being the youngest child at the ELC dissipated the first day she visited, seeing first-hand the facilities, love and energy of the staff: “When I walked through the door, I was instantly relieved,” says now 34-year-old Thoa. “I knew with OneSky, my baby would be well looked after.”

The fees at the ELC are less than half of what Thoa was paying at the home-based day care and due to Thoa’s precarious financial situation they have been reduced further, which means she only has to pay $9 a month. Thoa now has more money left to buy food for her baby and medicines for her father.

More importantly, Thoa knows that her beloved baby is receiving the care she always dreamed she could give him. A once quiet and passive child, Bao has grown into a happy, smiling baby who can play on his own—his favourite toys are the shakers the ELC teachers make from recycled tin cans. OneSky-trained Teacher Tinh joyfully recounts Bao’s transformation: “I remember seeing Bao pull himself up for the first time with such a proud smile. When I held his hands and helped him walk a couple of first steps, I understood how seemingly little nurturing gestures really can dramatically improve someone’s life. Bao is a very smart and loving boy.”


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

A happy baby!
A happy baby!
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