A Message from Bethel's founders:
Dear Bethel friends,
We are celebrating 16 years of service to the children with Visual Impairments in China. When we started, we had to envision what Bethel has grown to become.
Now 16 years later, Delphine and I met with a family who adopted a little girl from Bethel. She was preparing for an audition at her school play. Another one of our Bethel teenage boys is now on his high school track team. Another just rented her own apartment and is finishing college. One works in a successful restaurant in Beijing. And another Bethel graduate just gave birth to a beautiful girl.
All these are normal things in life. But it took a whole team of care givers, teachers, specialized educators, adoptive families and donors to make it possible. As they say in Africa "it takes a whole tribe to raise a child". Well, for our children, you are part of the tribe that made it possible for them to grow into independent young adults. Nobody makes it through life on their own. We couldn't be more thankful that you are part of our children's story. Thank you for being their tribe and thank you for your generous support.
We wish you blessings in the new year.
From Guillaume, Delphine and the Bethel Team
Bethel Zhenghzou Project Expansion
Our Zhengzhou Project was Bethel’s first satellite project site that was opened inside the Zhengzhou Social Welfare Institute. The orphanage partnered with us by giving Bethel two classrooms and two apartments, where we provide 24/7 foster care and education for up to 14 visually impaired children. The pioneer project has been such a success that during this past quarter, Bethel and the Zhengzhou SWI opened a third classroom providing specialized education for the blind and visually impaired teenagers living at the center.
Bethel’s New Jingdezhen Project
Bethel’s main center is located in Beijing, where we provide foster care, medical care, and education to both orphans and children from lower income families who receive Bethel’s services on scholarship. To expand, we launched our first pioneer satellite in Zhengzhou (above). The project was a cost effective way for Bethel to positively reach many more blind and visually impaired children, whom would otherwise have limited opportunities. Because this model has worked so well, we are now excited to announce that Bethel is currently training teachers for our new Jingdezhen project. This will be Bethel’s fourth satellite project site, and will be operational early 2020. We would not be able to do it without your support!
On behalf of the Bethel team, we’d like to thank you for being so supportive in our ongoing mission of helping orphans who are blind and visually impaired. We truly believe that this unique population deserves every opportunity to be cared for, loved and fulfilled in their life. You are helping them build the foundation to their dreams.
In our next update, we will send you our goals for 2020 and our 2019 annual statistics. If you need any information about Bethel, or would like to sponsor a child directly, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will leave you with photos from our Bethel Christmas party we had at Jindingxuan’s restaurant on December 24th. Thank you for your continued support of Bethel, we could not do it without you- may you be blessed in the new year!
With school being on holiday during the summer months, the Bethel team conducts most of our domestic and international trainings in this period. Our goal is to directly teach both parents and caregivers of children with blind and visual impairments so they can not only have a direct impact on their own children, but be a resource in their communities from the provinces where they live.
Bethel's Annual International Conference
Bethel hosted our annual international conference in July. Mary Anne Roberto, a specialist in Cortical Vision Impairments (CVI) presented for two days to over 100 teachers, parents and orphanage workers on how to identify VCI and best practices. She also visited our Beijing and Zhengzhou centers and did assessments on Bethel's CVI children.
Family Preservation Training
At the end of July, Bethel hosted a 10 day training for parents of blind and visually impaired babies in Beijing. Part of our family preservation program, the goal of this 10 day intensive training was to give parents the tools they need to help their children grow into fun loving, healthy and independent children, and then adults. 10 families attended.
In August, Luo Wenyin, an expert in visual impairments from Taiwan, came to Bethel's center in Beijing and also did a training for parents on CVI. All of the families were families who attended the international conference and were grateful to have more resources for their children.
We have two new children in our Beijing center! We've warmly welcomed Titus and Harper. Harper is 13 and we are urgently trying to find him a family before it becomes too late for him to be adopted. Through the last quarter we have had three adoptions. Grace Timmy and Parker! We'll have two more in October. With the new school year starting on September 2nd, Bethel accepted 17 scholarship students into our classes.
New Satellite Center
Bethel will be opening a new center in collaboration with the Jing De Zhen CWI in Jiang Xi province for teenagers. There will be 10 children in the program, with various special needs. The teachers start training in October.
Expanding Zheng Zhou Project
We are also adding a third classroom to our Zheng Zhou program for teenagers. There will be about 10 children in the new classroom. Renovations were completed in September and we are currently in the process of hiring additional teachers for the project. We are excited to provide educational opportunities for children who are transitioning into adult life.
From everyone at Bethel, thank you for your continued support. Thank you believing in our children. It is with your support that we are able to reach the lives of this amazing but vulnerable population.
Bethel hosted three trainings in the last few months for families across China. Our blind ambassador, Valerie, taught parents how their children can engage with art without seeing. Valerie, along with our Bethel Outreach team, conducted trainings in both Beijing and Shaanxi as a means to provide support for parents with VI children with limited access to resources. During our third training, the head of the Occupational Therapy program at Rutgers University, Sandra, joined the Bethel team and gave a training to parents on how to meet their child's sensory needs in Beijing.
Bethel China is proud to update that one of our oldest graduates Li Ying (Bridget) has been doing an amazing job as a Barista for Miam Miam coffee shop. She's very happy and grateful to have this opportunity and to all of her coworkers who have been so open and welcoming to her!
In Zhengzhou, we have several new faces. Meet Sophia and Leonardo! Sophia is a beautiful 5 year old girl who is very serious, and Leonardo is an adorable 1 and a half year old boy with hair that we can't seem to get to stay flat and likes to be help up in the air! We also have a new boy in Beijing called Matthew! Matthew is almost 5 and has already stolen the hearts of all of his nannies!
Several weeks ago, we learned that Bethel China is the charity recipient of Chi Fan for Charity in Beijing. This event is the collective effort of over 60 restaurants to raise funds for a charity in Beijing each November. With these funds Bethel will be able to fund 11 scholarship VI students (from families) to attend our early immersion preschool for one year!
2 of our boys were adopted in April, Jackson and Spencer. We anticipate at least 2 more adoptions this summer! As you know, we truly advocate and try our best to help our children get matched into a loving home so if you know anyone that might be interested in adopting please have them contact us!
Thank you for your continued support! We could certainly not accomplish any of the milestones mentioned above without you. To continue providing services for 2019 we are still in need in funding. Your support is truly valued and is impacting so many children's lives.
Sending our best,
Bethel China Team
2019 is already here!
It's hard to believe that another year is already here. Since 2002, we have been committed to serving this unique, but amazing population so desperately in need. It has been amazing to see how some of our oldest children have gone on to accomplish some amazing, and ground breaking things. One great example is Li Ying (Bridget). In February, one of our first students Li Ying, became the first blind barista in Beijing at the restaurant Miam Miam. Bethel's partnership with Flo Restaurant Group involves comprehensive blind and VI training and they are committed to hiring more blind and visually impaired employees in their restaurants as they continue to expand. Li Ying has come such a long way and we are very proud of her.
After a month of renovations in late December - January, Bethel moved into our new location in Doudian, Beijing City. In the preschool we now care for 11 orphans and 11 scholarship students. When totalling all of our projects, Bethel currently provides services for more than 60 children throughout China.
Recently, Allie and Fang traveled to Jingdezhen and met with the local orphanage director to set the foundations for a future Bethel center there. While there, they also met with a representative from Amnesty International who pledged to raise funds for the project. The future center will consist of two teachers and educate about 8 children within the orphanage. Some of the children will be blind, while others have vision and have been diagnosed with autism. The orphanage would like to model the rest of their education program based on Bethel's future center with the hope that all of the children in the orphanage will benefit from Bethel's influence.
Denis Lam C-MER Eye Hospital
Regarding health care, Bethel recently established a new partnership with the Denis Lam C-MER Eye Hospital in Beijing. They have agreed to provide free eye exams to orphans and will provide discounted rates for surgeries/allow us to apply to their charity fund for surgery funding.
Beijing Women's Networ
Another aspect of Bethel's mission is to have a positive social impact in the VI community. Thankfully, Bethel is the official 2019 charity partner of the Beijing Women's Network. Our Country Director, Susan will be the speaker at one of their spotlight dinners with 100 women from Beijing in attendance.
The examples above are all doors that have been opened because of you. With your support, we have the ability to directly care for children in need, providing a safe and loving environment. It is you that help our children grow to live a dignified life in their path towards independence, while being a positive voice for the community. From all of us at Bethel, thank you.
A note from Guillaume, our founder:
Dear friends of Bethel,
Delphine and I first wish to thank you for supporting this cause that is close to our hearts. We were 25 when we started Bethel in China and started to learn Mandarin. It has been an adventure for sure! If you have ever tried to do anything in China, you must learn to be flexible, to adapt quickly and be ready for anything. All in all, whatever the landlords, village chiefs or government threw at us we have always moved forward, and for one good reason: the children we care for are worth it. As the old saying goes "when life throws lemons at you, make lemonade", the Chinese would probably say "when life throws dough at you, make jiaozi (dumplings)"! In the last 15 years we have had to move our larger site several times. During this period, we also broadened our scope of operations from "exclusively" caring for visually impaired (VI) orphans to also train other institutions in this field. A milestone was the publication of a manual we made from scratch in Mandarin, which was the first in China of its kind. We also started an online community for families with VI children. We advocate for these VI children in the Chinese society via national TV ads and printed ads which were published in trains and airplanes. We also advocate for our children to be adopted, which is the best gift of all. We have widened our target population to include not only VI orphans but also Vi children with families, many of whom are from poor families. We included these children in our preschool and have seen families move from hundreds of miles away just so that their child could have an education at Bethel. We have opened satellite centers in Zhengzhou, Nanjing, Jiaozuo and plan to open several more in 2019.
In the beginning of 2018, Bethel China became officially registered in China. This is a good step, but came with its own set of challenges. Just recently, the government asked that most children in Beijing be returned to their local orphanages. I am so thankful that 10 years ago we planned for that day and started to open satellite centers in local orphanages. We knew this day would come so we were prepared. It remains a challenge as some children have specific medical/educational needs and some of them come from orphanages where we don't have a project. We are working hard to either start projects there or partner with existing organization who can help us in the mean time. Another effect of the registration is that the government wants Bethel to relocate our school. So we had to move again and found an amazing building in the city which has been approved by the government and we have signed a 10 year lease last week! We need to find $3,000 per month for the rent.
Finishing 2018, we were able to provide care for 52 children throughout four provinces. We were able to host a special simulcast conference on Turst Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) to other NGO's in China, to help them better care fore children that deal with trauma. Six of our children were matched to amazing families and were adopted.
We are looking forward to 2019 and thankful for all that was accomplished in 2018, thanks to you.
From all of us from the Bethel team we'd like to send you our best in the new year.
Delphine & Guillaume
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