Education  China Project #18380

Help sponsor a foster family in China

by OneSky
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China
Help sponsor a foster family in China

Huanhuan was a quiet and withdrawn child until she entered OneSky’s Loving Families Program and felt the love of her OneSky foster mother. After a year of responsive care in her new family, Huanhuan is now thriving!

We know that children thrive when surrounded by the love of family-like care.

In China, our pioneering Loving Families Program provides institutionalized children like Huanhuan a home within a more traditional family unit.

Caring couples from the community are trained and supported to become “Mama” and “Baba” to up to five children with special needs, providing them with the love and stability that helps them thrive.

Xiaojuan is one of our courageous OneSky-trained Loving Families foster moms who, along with the thousands of other caregivers OneSky has trained across Asia, are changing the trajectories of young lives and have taught us that, with consistent love and responsive care, every child can thrive.

For Huanhuan, born with a rare brain abnormality, her foster mom’s love has made all the difference. “Huanhuan is the ‘little princess’ in the family” beams Xiaojuan. “Every day she runs into my arms and says, ‘Mom, hug,’ and of course I always do!”

Living in a family-like setting with foster siblings has helped Huanhuan learn to express herself with other children as well. “She now loves to play with other children and can express her emotions to the fullest. Whenever she sees me, Huanhuan shows a proud smile,” says Xiaojuan.

Just like other moms around the world, Xiaojuan picks the children up from preschool, takes them to medical appointments, prepares dinner, and holds them when they cry. When times get stressful, as they do in all families, she can turn to her OneSky mentor for parenting support and advice.

Xiaojuan has learned that the best gift she can give children who have had a difficult start in life is the love of family: “I want to instill love in them and teach them to love others. That’s my goal.”

Thank you for your continued support of our Loving Families Program! For more information about specific sponsorship opportunities, go here.

The power of family-like love!
The power of family-like love!
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Happy Lunar New Year!
Happy Lunar New Year!

In China, Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year and, for children in OneSky’s programs, it is a time for celebration and fun.

In the child welfare institutions, OneSky nannies prepared various activities for the children, allowing them to express their joy and creativity.

They made pretend paper firecrackers, red envelopes, and New Year wishing trees, cutting the plum branches and shaping red clay into ovals to decorate the branches.

With the help of the teachers, they wrote their wishes for the year ahead using auspicious words such as “Fu (blessings), Tiger Year, Good Luck.”

The children folded red paper and cut it along the drawn lines with scissors, proudly making delicate New Year’s paper cut-outs.  Together, the children and teachers assembled the red lanterns and hung them in the window.

“Hanging lanterns is a Chinese New Year custom, which symbolizes family reunion, prosperity, happiness, and completeness. It is a symbol of joy for the Chinese people,” the teacher said happily to the children.

Afterward, teachers gathered the children to experience the process of making dumplings, one of many important and much-loved traditions of the festival.

The teachers staged a pretend New Year’s market inside the welfare institution for the children, encouraging them to purchase food and snacks with handmade coupons. The children were thrilled to see so many varieties of food and actively took part in the market exchange.

In our Loving Families Program, the Spring Festival was also celebrated. Foster parents carefully planned activities to create a happy festival atmosphere for the children, emphasizing the significance of China’s most important celebration.

Foster moms and dads helped the children to make paper lanterns, Chinese paper-cuts, and pretend paper firecrackers while expressing their New Year’s wishes to the children. During the craft activities, the children had a lot of fun while enhancing their imaginations and hands-on ability.

“Let us welcome the Spring Festival with this traditional joy and new hope,” said one foster mom.

Thank you for your continued support of our Loving Families Program! For more information about specific sponsorship opportunities, go here.

Bringing in the Year of the Tiger
Bringing in the Year of the Tiger
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A new life for Wenwen!
A new life for Wenwen!

Thank you for your support of our Loving Families Program, which helps children like Wenwen experience the joy of living in a family for the very first time. Wenwen was orphaned at just 3 months old, left outside a welfare institution where she was soon discovered by caring orphanage staff ...

Soon after her arrival, OneSky-trained caregiver Zhou entered her world. Each morning Zhou would pick her up from the nursery and, cradling her in her arms, take her to the playroom.

Zhou took a special interest in Wenwen and quickly grew attached to the little girl who so desperately needed someone to be close to. At first, Zhou thought Wenwen was simply withdrawn, however a subsequent health check also showed that she had a hearing impairment.

“She was so physically weak, and her little face seemed so scared and devoid of hope,” recalled Zhou. “I’d move my face closer and talk to her and she would gaze back at me and open her mouth as if trying to talk.”

On her first day in the playroom, she turned her head to look left and right and take in her new surroundings. Zhou found her a rattle to play with, shaking it first to capture her attention. But, when Zhou placed it in Wenwen’s hand, she seemed scared and dropped it on the mat.

But slowly she became more at home and, when she smiled, it was like the sun coming out. It was a transformative moment Zhou would never forget.

“She reminded me of my daughter when she was very little,” she explained. “I remember my daughter smiling just like that. Wenwen’s smile was adorable … it warmed my heart and when I saw it, all I could think was that I wanted to give her all the love she needed to grow strong.”

From then on, Nanny Zhou spent as much time with Wenwen as possible.

“I held her in my arms, looked her in the eyes, and talked to her face to face. I sang songs to her, and I repeated her name repeatedly.”

Zhou even discovered a way to allow Wenwen to “hear” her. She would hold Wenwen’s little hand to her own throat so she could feel the vibration of her vocal cords.

And soon the love and care of this skilled, warm-hearted carer started to pay off.

Wenwen showed she could sit up. She could turn over. Step by faltering step, she learned to walk.

And then, she said her first words, repeating Zhou’s patient words back to her: “Ma … ma. Ma-ma!”

When Wenwen grew older and healthier, she entered OneSky’s Loving Families Program where she had siblings, a full-time foster mom, and a working dad to care for her. Every day she would return to OneSky’s playroom where Zhou followed her progress.

“When she saw me in the activity room, I’d open my arms to welcome her, and she’d run over for a hug with that big smile,” said Zhou, who was thrilled that Wenwen now had a family to call her own.

As Wenwen became a toddler, she considered herself one of the “big girls” and her blossoming confidence meant she became a self-appointed nannies’ helper. At the end of each day, she would help collect toys, sorting them into neat piles before making a start on the children’s blankets.

And, having learned how to love from Zhou and her new foster family, Wenwen knows how to pay it forward. She is always protective of her younger brothers and sisters and if a child cries, she will run to Zhou calling for help. If a little friend is sad about a lost toy, Wenwen will help find it.

Later this year Wenwen will attend OneSky’s orphanage preschool for the first time. Despite the worst possible start to life, she will be ready.

To learn more about The OneSky Approach to working with young, at-risk children, please visit our website.

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Time with dad.
Time with dad.

This past Father’s Day, we shared a special story about a stay-at-home foster dad named Huang. Through our Loving Families Program in China, he and his wife, Zeng, care for nine orphaned children.

This dad’s day starts before 5 a.m. each morning when he cooks breakfast for the family. At 7 a.m. he walks two of the children, both aged 6, to the local elementary school while the remaining seven all attend OneSky’s infant nurture room and preschool classroom.

 While the children learn, Huang and Zeng tidy up the home ahead of their return. Nine children make a lot of mess!

“The biggest difference between me and other dads in ordinary families is that, for me, it’s a 24-hour-a day job. From getting them to eat to getting them to sleep, and everything else that needs doing,” said Huang.

“We are two people entirely devoted to our family, with no time for anything else. I think we do it well. The children are bright and physically lively.”

One of those kids is Xingxing, a 2-year-old boy who came back to the family at the end of last year from the China Care Home in Beijing, a medical program for special needs children. 

Xingxing had undergone leg surgery and is now recovering well with extra care from Huang who massages his legs daily. And then there’s little sister Linlin, whom Huang and Zeng first met when she was just 3 months old.

Back then, her face was covered in spots having been repeatedly stung by mosquitos. When Zeng first saw her, she burst into tears. “I couldn’t stop,” she said. “She looked so miserable.”

The couple took her home and quietly transformed her with all the love and care a baby so needs. Later, when she was adopted, the tears came again — this time they were Huang’s. He didn’t sleep properly for days.

“He couldn’t fall asleep on the first few nights without Linlin.  He lay there and wiped his tears,” said Zeng. “I told him that she will be dearly loved by her new parents, just like we loved her.”

But for all the emotional and physical effort of being a foster dad, Huang says he is happier than he has ever been.

“I worked hard in business for 30 years, so I have a lot of other experience. Now, my heart is very calm; just being here and taking care of the children. To myself and my wife, pursuing money is unimportant. Now, we feel fulfilled and our minds are always on the children.”

Huang believes his parenting skills are better now than they were with his two biological children.

“Back then, I didn’t have much time with my family,” said Huan. “Now I feel like I have much more of a responsibility. OneSky also gives us so much support and I must not let them down.”

The Loving Families Program is one of three that OneSky provides for orphaned children. Alongside Infant Nurture and Preschool Programs, the Loving Families Program provides foster families for children whose special needs may make adoption unlikely.

And Huang’s dedication to the children has not gone unnoticed by the OneSky Family Mentor who provides support.

“He has a real growth mentality,” she said. “He has a remarkable peace of mind and works so well with his wife and the local community. I watched how he hugged Linlin and how the children he cares for follow him around.”

The final word goes to wife Zeng, an equal care partner and every bit as big a hero as Huang. She gives her husband top marks. “He’s busy all day long, cooking breakfast, sending kids to school, cleaning, gardening, etc. He’s doing a really good job,” she says, proudly.

To learn more about The OneSky Approach to working with young, at-risk children, please visit our website.

Time for play.
Time for play.
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Ruhai and his nanny forge a bond.
Ruhai and his nanny forge a bond.

In an orphanage in China a 4-month-old baby boy named Ruhai was lying quietly in his crib, watched over by his new nanny, Zhang. He would never know the love of his real parents, but Zhang was determined to do her best to help fill that void.

She observed the child, mesmerized by his chubby little face, which, to her, had the appearance of a blank slate. He registered no emotion as she knelt down next to him, introducing herself.

“Sweetheart, nice to meet you. From now on, I am your Mama. I promise I will often take you out and play with you. Can I hug you?” she asked, touching him gently.

Ruhai remained silent but looked at her curiously with his mouth slightly upward, exposing the most beautiful dimples Zhang had ever seen. “But he turned away quickly. He didn’t have any feelings towards me. Neither attachment, nor resistance,” she said.

Still, Zhang greeted Ruhai with a friendly smile, then cuddled him. The moment her hands felt his warmth and weight, she immediately fell in love with Ruhai. Though it took time for him to learn to love her back.

Thanks to her OneSky training, Zhang had become educated about the importance of early bonding and attachment to a child’s development. According to Alice Wong, OneSky’s Chief Programs Officer, Global: “When a caregiver provides loving responsive care to a child, they are teaching the child to trust you and others, as well as themselves, to communicate, explore, and discover the world in which they live.”

Over time, with Zhang’s consistent love and care, Ruhai came out of his shell emotionally and thrived, reaching age-appropriate physical developmental milestones. By the time he was 7 months old, after working with Zhang on various exercises during playtime, he was able to lift up his upper body while lying on his stomach.

Because of Zhang’s responsive nurturing, Ruhai’s sense of security had increased. For instance, when Ruhai showed interest in something, be it a toy or the surroundings, Zhang told him what it was used for and encouraged him to give it a try. Zhang would praise him for his accomplishments, even the smallest one.

Zhang said she will never forget how, when he was about a year old, he began to call her “Mama,” very distinctly. From then on, every time he saw her, he would open his arms, saying “Mama, Mama” aloud and couldn’t wait to run into Zhang’s warm arms.

By the time Ruhai turned two, he was very comfortable playing in OneSky’s Infant Activity Room, where caregivers help young children by creating a rich environment with diverse stimuli. Ruhai particularly liked to wander around the book area and fetch his favorite books.

“Mama, read this book!” he would say to Zhang, who he had known since being a baby. The two would then cuddle up and read together, with Zhang teaching him the beginning skills of learning to read. Sitting on her lap, with a well-loved book in his hands, his self-confidence improved as well as his language and cognitive development.

By the time Ruhai turned three, he had moved onto live in a foster home near the orphanage as part of OneSky’s Loving Family Program, so he could experience the joy of family-like love, with new siblings and two dedicated parents, determined to give him a second chance at childhood.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, for a time, the orphanage’s activity room was closed and Ruhai was unable to come and see Zhang, as usual. So, she recorded some lessons for his foster mom to play for him and arranged to video chat with him by cellphone.

Ruhai called out to Zhang excitedly over the screen: “Mama, come back soon. I miss you so much!”

With teary eyes, Zhang comforted him. After hanging up the phone, she realized how vulnerable children are during times of crises. “We should continue to give them love and the nurturing they need to grow,” she said.

Luckily, for her and little Ruhai, the lockdown was finally lifted; the activity room opened again. As soon as Ruhai saw his “Mama Zhang” as he approached the familiar playroom, he ran towards her, his eyes filled with joy.

Zhang could see that he was now a very happy, adjusted little boy, with a family to call his own — his old days of being a blank slate long forgotten!

To learn more about The OneSky Approach to working with young, at-risk children, please visit our website.

 

A happy little boy.
A happy little boy.
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OneSky

Location: Berkeley, California - USA
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Twitter: @oneskyorg
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OneSky for all children
Berkeley, California United States
$11,989 raised of $15,000 goal
 
382 donations
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