The world is abuzz with news the corona virus, officially known as COVID-19. It all started in January in Wuhan, China, which is about 800 miles from the Hope Station headquarters in Chengdu.
While the virus is subsiding, life in China is far from normal.
Our Sichuan province, home to 81 million people, only had around 300 infected at the epidemic’s height. But local society has suffered a massive blow. For weeks there were empty streets and nothing but grocery stores open. Mail and delivery services were shut down and businesses of all kinds forced to close their doors indefinitely.
Now, shops are slowly reopening and people are venturing out of their homes. Malls are open, delivery services resumed, and public transportation is available. But, schools are still closed, with many switching to online classes indefinitely. Apartment complexes (no one lives in houses here) are restricting residents in the number of times they can come and go each day and refusing entry to all non-residents. Restaurants are all still closed, with the exception of some that allow take-out but not dining in. At entrances to every mall, shop, office, or bank there are temperature checks and registration requirements.
Current information about the spread of COVID-19 can be found here.
Local orphanages are staying strong.
Orphanages across China have been locked down almost completely since the end of January. This includes both Hope Station’s partner orphanages. Kids are not going to school (though some are attending online classes) and toddlers and babies are cooped up inside all day. All caregivers have been working 24/7 with no breaks, and will continue to until this situation subsides.
Since our visits have been postponed indefinitely, we’ve had to get creative to support the kids and caregivers from afar.
In week 5, we collected notes from all the 1on1 volunteers and sent a letter in the mail for the kids to read.
Families with special needs children need support now more than ever.
Crises like this always affect the most vulnerable first, and local families with special needs children are no different. Children are stuck inside all day every day with no where to go. Schools and therapy centers are all closed indefinitely, and online class is just not possible for a lot of differently abled children. Parents are struggling financially, due to lack of work, and emotionally, without their usual support systems.
Our team has stepped up to support these families in need. In January, we were serving 3 families, but now we have more than 7 families depending on us for support. Each week, Erica (our Family Care Specialist) checks in with each family personally. She offers therapy ideas that are easy to do at home, encourages overwhelmed parents, and asks if they need anything. While we can’t visit them in person, we've sent care packages to each family that include:
"Indefinitely" is the buzzword of the season.
There’s no knowing when we’ll be able to resume our normal activities. But we have been so encouraged by the messages many of you have sent to us. We firmly believe there is hope in all of this, and we will not subscribe to fear. Rather, we hold on to the “peace that surpasses all understanding,” peace that comes from the One who cares for us better than anyone else can.
Thank you for all your support for the kids, local families, and our team in this season.
Blessings to you,
"When I think about Hope Station, the first feeling I feel is gratefulness! I'm grateful I get a chance to make someone's life a little better or at least more joyful. And I am grateful to the kids at the orphanages for teaching me what really is important in life -- relationships, love, having someone who hugs us when we need it...
One story I want to share is about a little girl in DY orphanage. When I started volunteering in fall of 2018, she was just a little baby who never smiled, never played, was kinda grumpy and left behind a lot of times, because there were other cuter or more cuddly babies. Step by step, I carried her, talked to her, played silly games to make her laugh, and cuddled her a lot! This summer, I see this girl engaging in all different activities, she smiles and laughs and enjoys being taken for a walk as she learns to walk now
The biggest changed happened in her facial expression and body language though. She is not this grumpy, closed off baby anymore, that baby that almost always had silent tears in her eyes. She is a joyful, smiley, curious and determined little girl and I love that I got to see and be part of that change. Her name is Norah and she is about to get adopted by a local family."
Written by Anezka, a Hope Station Volunteer. Anezka visits both of our partnering orphanages every week and has developed strong bonds with the children there. She and her husband are from the Czech Republic, and currently live in China for business. Thank you for your generous heart for Norah and the other children--we love you, Anezka!
Invite your friends over and have a night of aerobics, go full haul and get a teacher in, or just follow a YouTube tutorial! (Participants pay a fee)
Invite your friends and family for afternoon tea, and have a classy catch up whilst raising money for charity. (Charge an entry fee)
Arts and Crafts fair
Get creative and make gifts that you can sell! Invite your friends and neighbours and have a fair!
Ask your friends and family to donate items they no longer want and host an auction to see what people will buy!
Head down to your local supermarket and get packing! Ask local shoppers for any donation they see fit for your services.
If you were inspired by Mariah and Mike's amazing sponsored bike ride, then jump on your bike and do the same!
Sell your old books and see how much you can raise!
Get that adrenaline rush and ask for sponsorship for the big leap!
Get baking and sell your delicious goods to your friends and neighbours.
Get your friends involved and start a Car Wash in your local area for the day. You’ll make some friends and you’ll get a tan!
Ask your neighbours if their pups need some exercise. You’ll meet some cute dogs and you’ll be raising money for a great cause.
Dress Down Day
Ask your school or workplace if you can organise a dress down day. Ask everyone involved to bring in a dollar.
Charge individuals in your school or workplace every time they forgo the eco-friendly option, bringing in a single use water bottle, pay a fine! Not only does the environment benefit, you’re teaching self-awareness too!
Invite local artists and host an exhibition of your choice in your local community. Charge viewers an entry fee.
Ask your school or workplace if you can organise a sponsored fancy dress day. Participants pay a fee.
Host a fashion show and charge for attendance. Invite your friends or local designers to show off their best dressed and have fun!
Guess the name of the teddy, guess the number of balls in the jar, guess the weight of this dog… Endless opportunities! Ask guessers to pay a fee.
Ask at your school or workplace if you can host a Hat Day, and ask everyone that gets involved to pay a fee. You could even have a competition for the craziest hat!
Ask your friends and family to sponsor you to take an ice bath. Get ready to chill out.
Make jam and sell it to your friends and family! Get ready to get fruity!
Invite your friends and family round and see who is the best (or worst) singer!
Start a sponsored litter picking event in your local area, not only will you be helping the environment, you’ll be raising money for a great cause as well!
Invite your friends round for a movie night, see who stays up the longest! Charge a fee for participants.
Offer to mow your neighbours’ lawns for a small fee!
Invite your friends round for nachos! Charge a small fee
Non uniform day
Ask your school if you can organise a non uniform day and have everyone that participates pay a dollar.
Outdoor movie night
Stick on your favourite film, set up a projector and invite your friends and family!
One person's trash is another one's treasure. Head down to your local pawn shop and sell your unwanted goods!
Invite your friends round for a poker night! Charge participants for entry.
Host a quiz night at your local pub or community centre. Charge participants for entry. Your friends can improve their general knowledge and you can raise money for a great cause!
Host a raffle for some of your unwanted goods.
Make a swear box for your friends and family, every time someone swears, a dollar in the jar. Not only will it help break a bad habit, it also raises money for a great cause!
Be inspired by some of our previous donors (remember Josiah- now Jay - and his family?) and start a T shirt drive!
Host a University Challenge in your home or local community centre. Charge for entry and participants.
Host a dinner or a date auction in honour of Valentines and raise money for the kids at Chinese orphanages at the same time!
Ask your neighbours if they would like their windows cleaned for a small fee.
Walk to school or work
Get sponsored to walk to school or work instead of taking your usual mode of transport for a week or a month. The environment will thank you too!
Invite your friends round for an evening of X-Box games. Charge a fee for participation.
Get zen with your buddies and enjoy a relaxing afternoon. Charge for attendance.
Host a zombie night at your school or community centre, half of you should be zombies, the other half civilians, and let the chase begin! Charge for participation.
Hope Station has officially begun a partnership with a second orphanage! On May 28th, Hope Station, CRDF, and local authorities all gathered together to commemorate this new partnership with a Launching Ceremony.
We first connected with this orphanage in April, and things moved quickly. By mid May, we had visited twice and fallen in love with their staff and children. All agreed that this would be a fabulous partnership that would benefit the children exponentially.
The orphanage has about 18 children, ranging in ages from 5 months to early teens. Some are regularly attending school, and others are living out their days at the orphanage. We are so excited to get to know each one of them on a deeper level and share their precious stories with you.
The Launching Ceremony itself was a huge success! Special shoutout to a few donors who sponsored this event for us. Thank you! Those in attendance at the event included Hope Station staff and volunteers, staff from CRDF, and 2 local officers. There were a few speeches, and then we officially signed the program agreement.
At the orphanage, we gave a collection of childcare items like diapers, wipes, toys, blankets, and more. After a tour of the facility, the kids joined us for about 10 minutes before naptime. We handed out goodie bags and hugs to each one of them.
It was an amazing day... Some of you will know how monumental this was for Hope Station. We've been on such a journey, and all we've ever wanted is to reach as many kids in orphanages as we can. This Launching Ceremony was a time to see everything come together: the generosity of our donors, lots of hard work, and years of waiting and hoping. Hallelujah for His faithfulness!
Watch for another blog post soon as we get to know the new kiddos!
I have REALLY exciting news to share with you. In a couple of weeks, Hope Station will be starting a new partnership with another orphanage!
Up until now, you've only heard about our first partnering orphanage--let's call it DY. You have loved on the kids from afar, you have cheered for them, and many of you have given oh so generously to improve their lives. In June, Hope Station will start serving children in a second orphanage--let's call this one ZJ. There are 18 kids there who are desperately in need of more snuggles, opportunities to play, and access to special needs resources. I can't wait to get to know each one of them and introduce them to you.
Don't worry, Hope Station continues to work with the kids in the first DY orphanage. They will not be abandoned! They are getting just as much love, care, and resources as they have before. Our work with them will not change, and you'll keep getting updates on those kids as always.
To kick off this new partnership, Hope Station and the orphanage are having a Launching Ceremony at the end of May. According to Chinese culture, publicly honoring each other is a very important step in our new relationship with this orphanage. It's going to be a special time where we come together with the orphanage leadership and local officials to honor each other and sign the partnership agreement.
Thank you for the role you have played in the DY orphanage kids' lives. I have no doubt that this ZJ orphanage partnership is going to start smoothly, because you guys are so amazingly supportive. We couldn't have done it without you!
If you would like to support the children in this new orphanage,
you can DONATE HERE.
Hello lovely people! I hope everyone is taking good care of themselves! In this blog post, I'd like to discuss a bit more about one of Hope Station's goals. One of our more obvious missions centers around the kiddos at the orphanages we serve, but do you know what is equally important? Caring for the caregivers!
The women who work at the orphanages in China often have been doing so for years, caring for every child as they come into the institution. In many cases, these caregivers are the only adult interaction a child may have while in the orphanage, the only glimpse of parental love they may ever come in contact with. Especially for those children with more severe special needs, the people who work at the orphanage are their lifelines. These adults are crucial to the healthy and happy childhood of these kids!
The need for parental love and support has been discussed, but think of it this way. Countries often have many children who are in the care of an institution. However, there is a shortage of caregivers. Think of one adult trying to care for ten or more children all day, every day. Parenthood is a gift for many, but what happens when you are too overwhelmed to meet every child's need, let alone your own needs? This is a job that can wear a person down if there is no support.
Many of the caregivers Hope Station works with are in this exact situation. Many kids, but only a few adults to care for them. They are stressed. They are tired. They are trying their best. Unfortunately, it is impossible for their best to meet every child's specific needs. Many of these caregivers are not trained to deal with special needs children and their methods are simply a result of them trying to keep the child from harming themselves or others.
Hope Station is working to help these people. In addition to working with the children at the orphanage, Hope Station also works closely with the women who raise the children. On our visits, the caregivers are given support in the form of extra helping hands and suggestions on practices that may meet each child's specific needs a little better.
Helping caregivers is just as important as working with these kiddos directly. Hope Station raises up champions. These caregivers are the main example of those champions. A well-trained caregiver is able to help all the children they come in contact with. Let us not forget to thank them and offer them support. They have committed to helping others, but they are human and need help as well. Progress is not possible without the cooperation of all involved.
This blog post was written by guest blogger, Sarah
Hello once again, lovely people! We're back with another blog post and this time, the topic is PLAY! Who remembers playtime as a child? I know I do! My sister and I would dress up in all sorts of outfits and put on shows to act out for our parents. Or we would draw with chalk out on our driveway, teaching each other how to sketch out silly characters. I always saw playtime as a natural, obvious part of my life. Both at home and at school, childhood education focuses on play. How do we help this kiddo engage in an activity to learn the names of colors? Turn it into a game and try to find as many things as you can in the room that are green. How do we teach a kindergartener the alphabet? We turn it into a song and dance along to each letter's name. Playing is natural for children, right? It's comes as easily to them as breathing, doesn't it? Not the case.
Play is taught.
For children living in institutions, the day is very tightly scheduled. Wake up, eat, go to school (for the children that are able to), help take care of younger children, eat again, and go back to sleep. There is very little free time for the child or the caregiver to relax and play together. Think of it this way. Many times, children play games that are based on a story they have made up. A daring hero coming to slay a fierce beast, a magician casting spells to fly, or even a family cooking dinner together. Many of us hear children coming up with new details to their play stories all the time. However, what if the children were never told stories about daring heroes, never shown how to explore impossibilities like magic, never able to experience a family cooking and sitting down to dinner together. Will they be able to make up stories if they have not been taught the basis of imagination? The answer is too often no. The children and caregivers in orphanages are so limited in time due to the many tasks that need to be completed, that there is no space to fit in stories or playtime. For orphanages so understaffed like the one Hope Station members visit, there can be up to 10 children for 1 caregiver at a time. There is no possible way for a child to receive the attention and individual time to practice how to play.
Play is such a vital part of development. Responses from others teach children the meaning of facial expressions and allows them to copy. Picking up and moving toys allows smaller kids to develop fine motor skills. Encouragement and interaction with loving people encourages a kiddo's confidence, confidence that will lead to making their own decisions in the future.
It's important to remember how precious play is! Hope Station wants to give all little ones the chance to play to their heart's content, both with their current caregivers, and hopefully one day with their forever families.
This blog post was written by guest blogger, Sarah.
Hi lovely people! I’m an intern working with Hope Station for the next few months! I’ve already learned so much from this position and I’d like to share some of that insight with you all as I go along! For this blog post, I’d like to discuss the effect of institutions on children. Also, how we as a worldwide society should work towards a better future for all children. The basis for this post is a TED Talk by Georgette Mulheir, titled "The Tragedy of Orphanages". It is an eye-opening call to action, so I'll add the link below if you wish to listen for yourself!
TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/georgette_mulheir_the_tragedy_of_orphanages
Listening to the hardships of children is difficult. Anyone who has taken a public speaking course knows that emotional language in effective in captivating an audience. However, Mulheir uses statistics to illustrate the life of children in institutions. Numbers are usually the death of emotional speeches, and yet my heart hurt nonetheless. Mulheir sees babies staring at the ceiling, only moaning to show their distress. Caregivers do not have enough support or time to care for each child's specific needs. This lack of interaction and love creates future problems for little ones and we have yet to find a solution. In many cases, families are forced to part with a child due to poverty, lack of resources, or the absence of support. We put children into institutions, saying the quiet ones are so "well behaved." We fail to realize that they are already used to being lonely. We are blind to the nightmares we have created for our world's little ones. When these children leave an institution, they the have to process their own difficulties, often unsuccessfully. Many children who have grown up in institutions struggle with mental illness, crime, and drug abuse later in life.
So we have identified a very obvious problem, now what? What can we do? Thankfully, it is possible to make things much better. A big part of the solution is raising awareness to the issue. After that, it's time for action and action usually means money. However, THE RESOURCES TO HELP ARE THERE! The money available needs to be allocated towards family support programs. We need to encourage people, not tell them to give up.
As Mulheir says, child institutionalization may be the one "form of child abuse we can eradicate within our lifetime". More support for families means less pressure to part with a child, less trauma related to the lack of a parental figure, and less problems for innocent children who just need love.
Hope Station works to help orphaned children in China by raising up champions in caregivers. This is VITAL! All children need love and proper support to grow up happy and healthy. Yes, we can need to improve conditions in orphanages. However, we at Hope Station want to emphasize that CHILDREN NEED FAMILIES! No matter how wonderful the building is, how knowledgeable the staff are, or how advanced the education is, an institution will NEVER be able to compete with the love of a family.
This blog post was written by guest blogger, Sarah.
Her voice was aching with frustration, and the stress of her job was etched into the lines on her face... “Sometimes she just wakes up in the middle of the night and starts screaming and scratching herself.” We stood in the middle of the activity room listening to this seasoned nanny as she described her struggles in caring for Riley. Battling with blindness and obvious yet undiagnosed nutritional issues, young Riley sits in the corner of the activity room all day, every day, covering her ears. Without warning, she will start screaming, scratching the back of her neck until it bleeds, and biting the edge of the table. “We can’t ask her what’s wrong, she doesn’t speak,” the nanny said. “Sometimes she wakes up screaming and scratching at night and rolls out of her bed. We have to tie her into bed to keep her from hurting herself.”
Oh mercy. My heart aches for Riley, as she battles alone in her head. And my heart aches for Nanny Y who just wants her kids to be safe but feels completely out of options.
There is a better way. We listened to Nanny Y and affirmed her heart for Riley. And then we got to open her eyes a little bit more to the great sea of solutions in special needs care.
So she’s scratching herself in the night… How about some mittens so she can’t break the skin when she scratches?
So she covers her ears all day long… Maybe she doesn’t like the loud sounds in the room, let’s try some noise cancelling headphones.
So she has aggressive outbursts and she can’t tell you what’s wrong… Let’s take some time to notice her situation and surroundings during her outbursts and imagine ourselves in her position. We’ll see what that can tell us about what she’s feeling.
This is real life here. Hope Station is all about raising up champions who are motivated by love and equipped to care, and it happens through nanny training every. single. week. Nanny training looks like coming alongside these brave ones and looking at the situation with eyes and hearts wide open. That’s where the real impact happens. Help a child and you’ve changed a life. Help a nanny and you’ve changed all the lives she’ll ever touch.
This is Riley. She has been at her orphanage for years, and we’ve recently started spending time with her. Riley is blind and has a sensory processing disorder. She spends a lot of time curled up on the floor, covering her ears and wrapping her arms around her middle. Sometimes, she sits for hours crying in this position. Riley is an easy target for other children who have aggressive tendencies, and in an orphanage with •50 children• and •only 5 nannies,• she and the others spend a lot of time in a room unattended.
We’ve started wrapping her up when we arrive at the orphanage—it’s like a tight hug that brings a huge smile to her face. There is so much •MORE• we want to do with her, but frankly, we don’t have the manpower because we don’t have the funding.
Please help Riley get the care and attention she needs. Your donation will give Riley a loving champion to come alongside her, fight for her needs and make sure she’s getting the best.
GO TO 📲 www.hsorphans.org/donate
A note from Rebekah...
If you've ever wondered what it would be like to start a nonprofit from the ground up, to open a home for ORPHANS with special needs in Asia, you've come to the right place.