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Apr 12, 2018

Spring Lantern Festival Unites a Rural Village

A Special Lunar New Year Celebration!
A Special Lunar New Year Celebration!

Thank you for supporting our village model in rural China! Community building is an important part of helping to heal vulnerable children. We hope you enjoy this report from the field about a communal Lunar New Year celebration which successfully brought residents of one village together.

It isn’t always easy to find ways to heal rural villages disrupted as young parents leave home to seek work in distant cities. But our community engagement team seizes every opportunity…

In many villages, the Lantern Festival represents the official end of the Lunar New Year. One village served by our Village Model used the occasion to celebrate the festival by holding a casual, fun communal “riddles guessing game.”

On the day of the celebration, villagers—from the very young to more senior residents—joyously poured into the activity square, which was beautifully decorated with bright red lanterns and many riddles, cleverly strung up in the trees.

Everyone got excited upon seeing the riddles, for they were all related to parenting skills which had been previously taught by OneSky mentors in the family center. The villagers were thrilled to learn that anyone who had frequented the family center was eligible to answer the riddles and win prizes!

And, even after the game had concluded, people lingered to share their riddles with one another. This activity has not only animated the village, it has also allowed the villagers to have a more comprehensive and deeper understanding of their increasing parenting skills knowledge.

Building community engagement is a critical component toward strengthening now disintegrating rural communities and providing a nurturing home for young children despite parental absence.

Thanks to the Village Model, there are regular, ongoing trainer-facilitated village gatherings, monthly community projects (community gardens, field trips and treasure hunts with preschoolers, etc.), and cooperative childcare to give weary grandparents regular respite.

Yet, this is just one aspect of OneSky’s Village Model, of which there are three programs, each being equally important. Look for more reports about all three components—the early learning center, family skills training for caregivers, and community engagement.

And, be sure to check out this link for more stories and videos about the Village Model on our website!

Jan 24, 2018

The Silent Child

A precious discovery...
A precious discovery...

Thanks to supporters like you, abandoned children living in orphanages are often given a new family through our Loving Families Program. But long before being placed in a foster family they receive plenty of nurturing care, such as the attention given to this tiny baby girl…

Once upon a time in China, on a chilly winter morning, a small bundle was left at the front gate of a fine and prosperous home.

Actually, it was not too long ago… We wish such things no longer happened—for wrapped in that bundle was a tiny baby girl, abandoned not because her parents didn’t love her, but because they simply did not have the resources to give her the help she desperately needed.  

When passersby discovered the poor child on that cold day, they found a note tucked among many layers of worn blankets and clothing.

“Our daughter is sick,” the note said. “We have no money. You are rich. Please help her.”

Someone rang the bell at the fine house. But the people inside didn’t want to take the baby in. “Take her away,” they said, and shut the door.

The passersby looked down at the baby, silent and sleeping on the cold pavement. They talked among themselves. Of course, they were sorry for the child, but no one offered to take her home.

Instead, they called the police, who came at once and brought the baby to the local orphanage. A place where, thankfully, OneSky-inspired programs provide just the kind of care this baby most needs.

When the staff took her inside, they noticed that her little heart was thumping hard in her chest. Her breath was raspy and forced. Her tiny fingertips were blue. Still she slept.

They kept her in an observation room where a OneSky nanny held her and rocked her and let her know she was not alone. The baby did not cry. Only now and then would she open hazy eyes – and her nanny would whisper sweet words. “It’s all right. I am here.”

The silent child, whom they called “BeiAn” (Quiet Baby) has a congenital heart defect that will require surgery. While she waits to grow big enough and strong enough to survive the operation she needs, BeiAn will live with her new nanny at our China Care Home, receiving round-the-clock extra-special care.

And that is where she is right now—clean and warm and snuggled safe in the arms of a loving, highly-trained nanny. When she finally begins to cry, someone will be there to comfort her. She has a family again at OneSky. She is a child both lost and found.

The bonding process begins with some cuddling.
The bonding process begins with some cuddling.
Jan 12, 2018

A New Heart, and New Glasses, for Little Yimei

Thank you for supporting our village model in rural China! Because of you, young children like Yimei are being given a second chance at childhood…  

It was a cold, December morning when OneSky Family Mentor Ge came to get little Yimei and her grandpa for the long train ride from their village to Beijing, where she was going to have her eyes checked and get a brand new pair of glasses.

When Ms. Ge came to the door, Grandma’s eyes welled with tears. “Oh, you will come with them!

“Grandpa cannot read,” Grandma said. “I have been so afraid he will get lost in such a big city and they cannot find something to eat. You are here! Now I feel relieved. Yimei’s poor eyes will be fixed and I can stop all my worry.”

Although she’d never been outside the village before, little Yimei said, “I’m not scared.”

“Good,” Ms. Ge told her. “We are having an adventure!”

Grandpa, on the other hand, was terrified. For Yimei’s sake, he tried to pretend he wasn’t. Ms. Ge told Grandpa not to worry. OneSky will be there with him all the way. They’d never even seen an escalator before.

Beijing was a whole new world. At last, they arrived at our China Care Home. What a relief! “Do you know why you are here, Yimei?” asked Director Liu.

“To help me see better with my eyes.”

“What a smart girl!” said Nurse Wang. “Soon you will have glasses like mine. And when you start preschool you will learn how to read.”

But it wasn’t to be so simple. When Dr. Tang, OneSky’s medical director, gave Yimei a check-up, he discovered something. He told Grandpa that Yimei’s heart should be examined at the children’s hospital. Grandpa hesitated. This was not the plan. What should he do? “It’s important,” Dr. Tang said.

At the hospital, it was confirmed. Yimei had a difficult form of congenital heart disease that had failed to self-correct. She needed surgery. Soon.

“It’s very fortunate you have come to Beijing on another matter,” said the doctor. “But for her heart, we will need her parents to be present.”

Grandpa didn’t know if he could find Yimei’s mother, let alone convince her to come to Beijing. But he did find her father.

 “Yimei, can you see who I see?” asked Grandpa.

“That’s my daddy!”

“I’ve come for your big day, Yimei,” said her dad.

“Is my mama here?” Yimei asked.

“No, Yimei. She is so sorry she can’t come. She has to stay at her job.”

The hospital agreed to perform the surgery with just Yimei’s father present. So after a teary goodbye to Grandpa and Ms. Ge, Yimei’s own specially-trained OneSky Nanny Hu took Yimei to prepare for the next morning’s surgery.

“I tried to get my wife to come, but she said she’s too busy,” Yimei’s father said. “She hasn’t seen Yimei for more than a year. It seems she’s forgotten how to be a mother.”

But in the morning, when Yimei’s father arrived at the operating room, his wife was there!

Our OneSky staff was jubilant! We couldn’t wait for Yimei to wake up and see the mama who she believed only lived inside the phone. In even the worst of times, when children are surrounded by love, they can thrive.

We long for a world when every child like Yimei knows she is adored. Yimei’s unplanned heart surgery was a great success—and the arrival of both her parents was a big surprise.

Now we all hoped for a happy family reunion. A perfect fairy tale ending. But for children like Yimei, life is no fairy tale. In truth, when she woke from the anesthesia, Yimei did not recognize her mother. It had been too long.

And Yimei’s mother soon tired of trying to win her love. She said she could only stay for a short while. She couldn’t afford to lose her job. So, even though her parents did not return with Yimei to the village, and even though there was to be no fairy tale ending, there is much to be happy about.

Yimei went home with a new heart that should need no further surgeries, a powerful pair of glasses and careful instructions for Grandma about exercising her eyes… and a promise from Yimei’s daddy to visit whenever he can and to call her at least once every week.

Yimei’s friends at OneSky will always look after her. She is special to us… And there can be no doubt in Yimei’s heart, that she is loved … That her life truly matters.

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