Believing In Every Child
In early 2004, Love Without Boundaries was working with the Shantou orphanage in Guangdong province. Dr. Huang, the orphanage doctor at the time, told us how very sad he was that so many children in the orphanage were unable to attend school due to being born with special needs which weren’t readily accepted by society.
At the time, this included children born with issues such as missing limbs, albinism, cerebral palsy, and other health needs. Many public schools were not willing to accept these children as students, and so the Shantou orphanage had many children who were not receiving any type of education at all. For many kids with special needs in orphanages, their days were often spent in one room all day, watching TV or simply sitting and staring ahead.
Dr. Huang then said the words that began LWB’s first education program: “If these children can’t go outside to school, wouldn’t it be wonderful if school came to them?” And our very first “Believe in Me” school, located inside the orphanage, was born.
It was honestly quite a challenge to set up that first school. We quickly learned that in 2004, special education was very limited in China. Curriculum was almost nonexistent. The first three teachers we hired all quit within days. The most vocal one quit after just a few hours, stomping out of the orphanage saying the kids were scary and cursed with their special needs.
We began to wonder if we could actually make the school happen, since there was such a stigma surrounding children born with any type of disability, but then two 18-year-old girls applied who had just gotten their preschool certificates from a local vocational school. They visited the orphanage and immediately started talking gently with the kids. When we saw them reach out to hug the children, we knew that their young age didn’t matter at all. We could provide the special education training they needed, but their hearts were already perfect.
Within a month, our classroom doors opened, and the children in Shantou soon had music, art, and stories added to the lives. Their joy was truly palpable.
Over the years, LWB went on to establish orphanage schools in many different provinces, and the results were always the same. The orphanage staff would tell us how the children simply bloomed and became more confident under the guidance of the teachers. We heard again and again that when school time was over, the students would literally barricade the door, begging the teachers not to leave as the kids loved class time so much.
One of the most wonderful results of the schools, however, was our ability to closely follow the progress of the children and to advocate for as many children as possible to have their adoption paperwork filed. Through the Believe in Me school program, we have been able to provide extra services to the children as well, such as medical care and supplemental nutrition. In addition, this past year we added a daily dental hygiene component so the kids can have good oral health.
We believe education is a basic right of every child, and we are so grateful to everyone who supports our Believe in Me school program. Sponsorships are just $25 a month, and many children are still in need of someone making a commitment to support their tuition. We invite you to visit our education page to see some of the children needing help!