Journey to Guizhou – Day Two (Kaili)
The Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture is located in the southeast corner of Guizhou. 80% of the people in this region are ethnic minority, with the largest group being the Miao. The capitol city is Kaili, and that is where we began our day.
We started with a formal meeting with members of Civil Affairs and Director Chen, who had prepared information for us on the history of the main Qiandongnan orphanage. This facility serves 17 counties and helps approximately 100 children each year, the vast majority entering the orphanage with medical needs. We really liked Director Chen, and he kept telling us how much they prefer foster care as he feels every child deserves to know the love of a family.
When asked, Director Chen said one of their most urgent needs is for PT assistance. They truly want to help the kids in their care, but they have no therapists on staff. We explained our training program in partnership with Anhui Children’s Hospital, and they were very hopeful that LWB could provide this support so that 1-2 of their caregivers could learn how to help their children with special needs.
We are hoping to set up an LWB foster care program in this region and have identified the first group of children we would like to come into our care. One of the little girls is a new arrival to the orphanage who is deaf. Doesn’t she have the sweetest little face?
This little girl was born without knees. She was walking, however, and we hope that if she enters our program we can arrange for a more detailed exam to know exactly what her orthopedic needs are.
The baby we worried the most about was a little girl with heart disease whose lips were so blue. We were told that she gets short of breath quite frequently, and we are hoping to send her to Shanghai as quickly as possible for surgery. She has been loaded to our sponsorship page for medical care, and if you would like to help with her surgery you can click here.
After a wonderful morning meeting the kids, we were treated to lunch at a Dong minority restaurant with officials from Civil Affairs. It was so much fun as a local singing group came to perform for us. In Dong villages, the young girls are serenaded by the boys playing a three string guitar called a pipa. They choose their husbands according to who sings the most beautifully. The Dong are known for having very clear and pure tone voices, and the music was something we will never forget.
After lunch we drove to a Miao village up a winding, 2-lane mountain road. This was the largest Miao village in the province, with 1200 families. As we stood looking out over the vista, it honestly took our breath away. Without a doubt, Kaili was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It was like the China you see in picture books, with terraced mountains, waterfalls and streams, and the traditional Chinese wooden houses and bridges. The Miao women all have long beautiful hair that they tie up in buns and decorate with flowers. Their ceremonial costumes are so intricate, with silver necklaces and headdresses, and they hold celebration festivals, filled with singing and dancing, thoughout the year.
The hospitality we were shown on this day was humbling. This region is extremely poor, but the love for the orphaned children we met was enormous. As we waved goodbye and started our long journey north to Tongren, we gave thanks that we had been invited to partner with the people here to impact even more children.
Amy Eldridge, Executive Director