Following the Red Thread to Qianxi, Guizhou
We love how our supporters’ red threads sometimes weave their ways into our work, often helping many more children in the process. Last year we were contacted by a family who was adopting a child from an orphanage in Qianxi, Guizhou. In one of the photos they were given, they saw an older girl with an unrepaired cleft lip, and they wondered if LWB could possibly help.
In speaking with the director, we learned that they had two children both in need of cleft surgery, and so LWB offered our assistance. We were so happy that both Tatum, seen above, and Laney, shown below, could be sent so quickly for their operations.
Through that initial inquiry from an adoptive family, we were then invited to visit the orphanage on our most recent trip to China. As always when we visit new locations, we wanted to do our research in advance, so we googled nonstop to find people who had been there, only to find out that not very much at all is online! Qianxi is in the northwest part of Guizhou, and even our friends in the local travel bureau said they had never been there. We had absolutely no idea what to expect as we began our journey – a true mystery town!
We left the capital city of Guiyang to head up the mountain on what was supposed to be a 3.5 hour trip. We were told that the road could be quite dangerous because the two lane road is used primarily by coal mining trucks. Once we got started on the drive, it became clear that it was indeed a riskier road, as I had never seen so many semi-sized trucks on a road before. Soon traffic came to a complete standstill, and our driver got out to investigate. He came back and told us that a huge coal truck had overturned on the road, and everything was blocked.
This is when the ride got interesting, as countless truck drivers decided they couldn’t wait for the way to be cleared. Instead, they tried to turn a two lane road into a 4-5 lane road attempting to maneuver around the accident. Soon, however, it was like a bad game of chicken where it was 4-5 trucks across trying to go down the mountain, staring straight at 4-5 cars across trying to go up the mountain. At one point everyone just switched off their headlights for a few hours to save gas, as it was clear we were going absolutely nowhere. That was a really interesting experience as the mountain suddenly went completely pitch black.
Finally, at about 11:30 p.m. we started to move again, and we went past the area where all the coal was spilled. We were SO thankful to finally see the exit for Qianxi. I will be honest and say I thought for sure we were going to some super tiny, rural town since no one had heard of it before. Well, guess what? It is a GORGEOUS, beautiful city.
You are welcomed to the town by a huge stallion statue, and as we drove along we could see that the new part of Qianxi is really modern with beautiful landscaping.
The next morning we met the orphanage director and his staff in the lobby of our hotel and they could not have been more welcoming. We followed them in their car to the orphanage, which was about 40 minutes outside of the new city area. As we drove, it got more and more rural. The prevailing home style in this region was a gray concrete, surrounded by beautiful fields.
We pulled up to the current orphanage and saw all the children’s laundry hanging out the balcony. As soon as we entered the facility, we could tell that this was one of those lovely facilities that has a family feel to it versus an institutional feel. The kids had decorated their bedroom walls, and the staff told us how they make the older children clean their own rooms, as they believe doing chores is an integral part of being in a family.
The orphanage currently has a very nice small kitchen, and I wished we would have had time to stay for lunch. Everything the cook was preparing smelled delicious!
This orphanage currently cares for just more than 50 children, and the vast majority of them are what many people call “true orphans,” meaning their parents were killed or have passed away from illness.
They proudly showed us their small classroom, which had about 16 kids in it having music class. We met a really sweet twelve year old boy with CP who needs a walker, and I am thankful that one will be leaving the US with a great courier next week. The kids were so friendly to us, and I loved seeing how the leadership in the orphanage knew every single child so well.
We were able to see both Laney and Tatum post cleft surgery, and both girls have recovered well from their operations (although Laney wasn’t exactly excited to see us)!
We also enjoyed spending time in the baby room, which had ten wooden cribs with mosquito netting on top. They explained that many of their babies get domestically adopted almost immediately after coming into their care. There was one baby girl who was a fairly new arrival, and they told us a local family had already chosen her to be their daughter. They have only had 14 babies adopted overseas, to the U.S., Spain and Canada. Throughout the entire visit we felt like this orphanage was really trying their best for the children.
And then one of the nannies walked by wearing this wonderful jacket:
I think that sums up what we experienced perfectly!
Qianxi is actually constructing a very modest new orphanage right across the street from their current facility. We went and toured the building, and they explained that their goal with the new facility is to make the kids feel even more like they are part of a family unit. To do this, they are using the apartment style model, where each floor will have individual apartments with a living room and three bedrooms for the kids, with a “house mom” who will oversee each “family.” Because of this, when we discussed foster care, they felt it would not really help them at the moment since they are setting up family-style care inside this new building.
We ended our meeting agreeing to help them with a new playground for the children and some mats and simple equipment for their first physical therapy room. They also know they can call us for medical help if needed. I liked them very much, and I know both projects will be utilized. We had a very nice day meeting all the kids, and we were very grateful for the very warm welcome we were given. I look forward to seeing how our friendship with this orphanage can grow in the future – all for the children!
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer