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Jul 16, 2013

What is your favourite memory as a child?

Chiang Mai foster Mum with her two foster sons
Chiang Mai foster Mum with her two foster sons

Our own life stories are critically important to us as they build a picture of who we are and where we come from. For those of us fortunate enough to grow up with our own parents, siblings, grandparents or close family friends around us, we can rely on them to recall stories surrounding our birth, what we were like as a baby and toddler, and perhaps even as a grumpy teenager!

Children who grow up in an orphanage don’t naturally get that kind of attention. Some of the children entering the orphanages we work with have little or no documented family history. Children who have no sense of belonging are often deeply insecure and can find it difficult to make and maintain positive relationships with others, which in turn can make their transition into a family more challenging.

Our Life Story Work workshops train orphanage staff and family placement workers to create a ‘Life Story Book’ with each child in their care. Their job, over a set period of time, is to create a documented history of a child’s life with as much information as they can gather. This can include the child’s own memories, old photos, friends’ stories, orphanage files, city records – you name it – to document the child’s life to date. This becomes a highly personal book that the child can consistently add to and review, and they are free to decide who can view it. It is a critical tool to help clear up some of the muddles in his/her own foggy memories, and move forward in life with a bit more reassurance – especially if it is into a new family! 

We were delighted to invite and host Life Story Work training specialist, Toni Adriano, from the Anglia Foster Agency in the UK. Together with Care for Children’s training team from China and the UK, we spent three intense days introducing the concept of Life Story Work for the first time to 12 staff representing three orphanages.

The feedback we received was unanimously positive - here’s a selection:

“Life Story Work should be provided to all the staff that look after children.”

“The training is useful, and it is very useful for my work. I recommend that we should have several training workshops about this per year from Care for Children.”

“Training on this topic should be arranged at least twice a year.”

A big thank you from Chiang Mai for making this work possible!

Discussing case studies during training
Discussing case studies during training
Introducing new training methods: finger puppets!
Introducing new training methods: finger puppets!

Links:

May 1, 2013

Moving forward in Mianyang and Deyang

Xiao Yun and her carer
Xiao Yun and her carer

Our project staff visited Mianyang and Deyang in January this year to get a better understanding about the children who are being placed into families under the care of our partner orphanages.

Many children who come into orphanages are diagnosed with disabilities such as cerebral palsy or learning difficulties, which makes it even more important that children, and the families who care for them, are given the right kind of support. Our project staff were able to see first hand how children who have been placed into families are progressing in their development.

We love to share stories about the children who are benefiting from the love and care of a family. Care for Children’s Training Manager, Emma Zhang, had the opportunity to meet a little girl called Xiao Yun.

 Xiao Yun’s story

Two-year-old Xiao Yun was abandoned by her parents and sent to the orphanage 3 days after her birth. She was placed into the care of a local family in October 2012. Her foster parents run a small local business.

When placed with her new family, Xiao Yun hardly ever played or moved around, she was very quiet and had difficulty walking. Xiao Yun’s foster mother gave up her job so that she could care full-time for Xiao Yun at home. She is able to spend focused time playing, reading storybooks and helping Xiao Yun with her walking. Three months into her placement, Xiao Yun now plays with a smile, and is full expression when she sees visitors. Her workers and foster family have noticed a real transformation in Xiao Yun.

Xiao Yun’s foster parents are really happy having Xiao Yun in the family and are already talking about adopting her.

It’s stories like these that affirm the need for orphans to be placed into families. One worker from the Shenyang Child Welfare Institution who has attended one of our recent training events, commented:

Through the three days of training and exploring [how children form close relationships], I finally came to understand that the institutional environment is not good for a child to grow up in…where there are no opportunities for a child to form close relationships with a primary carer. They have missed out on motherly love which is so vital and fundamental….the family is the best place for a child. Now I realize how significant my work is in helping transform children’s lives.

Thank you for your support that makes this important work in China possible. 

Jan 28, 2013

20 new project sites kick off!

National Family Placement Leaders
National Family Placement Leaders

On 21 – 23 November, 2012 over 60 orphanage directors and foster care managers from 34 child welfare institutions, 22 provinces and cities throughout China met together to launch our 20 new national family placement projects. It was an exciting two-days of talks and discussions to usher in this new phase of family placement care in China.

Key leaders from government and child welfare agencies were present to open the meetings as well as provide their reflections on the development of foster care in China. It was exciting for us to have our 14-year partnership with the government reaffirmed and to recognise the achievements made to improve the lives of orphaned and abandoned children across China.

There was a real energy and synergy to small group discussions on how to take foster care in China forward. Delegates voiced their ongoing commitment to strengthening the quality of care orphaned and abandoned children in China receive. 

It was an encouraging start to these new projects! Please continue with us on this journey to place children into families they can call their own!

Discussion groups
Discussion groups
 
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