AGCI is in China! Our team is just wrapping up their second week in China. Continue following our posts and learn more about how we’re advocating for China’s orphans!
From Tiffany Williams, China Program Director, 9/20/15
On Friday, our team (and Lilian) packed up our suitcases, said goodbye to Xiamen, and headed by van to Longyan. It was nice to just look out the window and observe the cities, beautiful forests, and many banana trees along the way during our two-and-a-half hour drive.
Longyan is a prefecture-level city in the southwest of Fujian province, bordering the provinces of Guangdong to the south, and Jiangxi to the west. There are about 2.5 million people that live in Longyan. Although it is more remote, many of our foster families live here. These foster families welcome children from Xiamen into their homes, and the foster care system that we currently work with was actually started by the Longyan orphanage and has now grown to include Xiamen and Zhangzhou.
When we arrived in Longyan and entered the orphanage, the director and staff immediately greeted us. We were so appreciative of the opportunity to see the therapy and activity room where many of the children receive services, as well as meet and assess children cared for in foster families. We continue to be impressed by the care that children receive from their foster families and for those children currently in the care of Longyan orphanage.
We enjoyed seeing the progress of so many children, including Rosalie and Isaiah (pictured right)—both children are still waiting for families. What a treat to also deliver families’ care packages to their children!
It was so wonderful to see the progress of Isaiah. When I first met him in the special care room a couple of years ago, he was very floppy, his arms and legs moved almost like Jell-O. I was very worried about him. His special need was identified as hypotonia. Now through foster care and therapy, he is able to bear weight on his legs, sit unassisted, and crawl! He is precious.
Many who meet Isaiah find a special place in their heart for him, as he is a real charmer. He has a joyful spirit and it’s easy to connect to his special personality. He is now three years old. The love and dedicated care of a family would help him reach his full potential. Please contact us if you would like more information on him!
We were also thrilled to see Rosalie (pictured left), who is just adorable. Rosalie is four years old and is currently in a wonderful preschool class. It was so fun to see her pre-school teacher, who I just love! She really cares about these kids and has been the teacher for several of our kids who are now home. Rosalie is smiley and playful. She is making great progress and is now babbling and walking with assistance. She brings a smile to everyone she meets.
After visiting and assessing the children in foster homes, we took a break and headed to a large room where we were given a traditional Chinese lunch, cooked by a staff member in the Longyan orphanage kitchen. There were so many dishes, and I can say with confidence that it was the best meal I have had yet in China. It was amazing! I would love to learn to cook from her.
At lunch, we learned more about how Longyan chooses foster parents through existing relationships and trusted referrals. They complete a home study and visit each foster family monthly. We have now had the privilege to get to know some of the foster families personally. Many are so sacrificial. We learned of one mom, who lost her son after an unexpected accident that week. Although she was clearly grieving and mourning, she remains committed to the children in her care. She even shared how thankful she is for the opportunity to care for children in her home and how much joy she receives from them.
It has also been especially fun to see some foster families’ excitement first hand as they learn a child has a forever family. As we get to know different foster families, it has been great to see consistency in their care and see which child each foster family cares for after a child leaves their home.
In the afternoon, after lunch, we were also able to meet some of the children cared for in the Longyan orphanage. We hope to have the opportunity to place these children soon! After a full day, we headed back to the hotel.
Lilian saw my passport and saw it was my birthday, so she surprised me by asking if she could take me to dinner. We all went to dinner at a popular Chinese restaurant within walking distance from our hotel to celebrate, and she gave me a birthday toast! I am so thankful for her friendship and her work at the Xiamen orphanage.