Journey to Guizhou – Day Four (Liupanshui)
We took a three hour train from Guiyang, through the rural countryside of Guizhou to get to our next destination of Liupanshui. The passing scenery was beautiful, with crop terraces all up the mountains. Whereas the eastern side of Guizhou has many homes made of wood, the western side has white stone and concrete houses, but still with the traditional Chinese style curved tile roofs.
We were met at the train station by the new director of one of the local orphanages, Director Wang. She is new to the job and told us we were the first foreign team she had met. The orphanage we visited that day has only done seven adoptions since opening five years ago. We really enjoyed meeting their very kind staff, and we told them we hoped we could help increase the number of children who could find families by working together.
After a delicious lunch with Civil Affairs, we went to see the kids. This orphanage has many, many babies with medical needs. Almost every crib had a child who needed help. They had many children with CP as well and really want to learn how to do PT. We told them we could hopefully send some caregivers to Anhui Children’s Hospital for PT training, and they were SO grateful. As soon as we made the offer, they said, “When can we send someone?” I think they just feel overwhelmed at having children they obviously care for but are unable to help.
Some of the children we met included:
An absolutely beautiful eleven-year-old girl in a wheelchair. She is so smart and sweet. They have had her tested locally but cannot find out why she can’t walk. She does have pain when she puts weight on her legs, but everything else is normal. She really needs a tutor as she wants to go to school so badly, but there is no way for her to attend in a wheelchair.
A gorgeous toddler with cleft who loved our balloon animals and was SO active and laughing in her crib. This orphanage has no cleft bottles, and so feeding babies with cleft has been a true struggle. But they WANT to feed the babies, so one of the head aunties felt so terrible when this little girl couldn’t eat that she created her own NG tube. She cut a piece of rubber tubing that she would put down the baby’s throat at each feeding, and she would literally POUR the formula into the tube slowly for her to get calories. She saved this little girl’s life, albeit in a very drastic way.
A little boy who had an unrepaired spinal tumor, but it was low on his back and not broken open. He could walk in his crib holding on to the rails, so we are hopeful he can be chosen for adoption and receive surgery overseas.
This orphanage had several tiny preemies, and so we called one of our team members in Beijing and asked her to immediately send two cases of PreNan formula and a case of cleft bottles. We were all wishing the formula company had overnight delivery!
They had two babies with bilateral clubfeet – and we explained about Ponseti casting. They were very excited to know they could help the kids without making them go through surgery.
One little boy with more severe CP broke our hearts as we were handing our cheerios and crackers to the kids, and he wanted food so badly. However, due to his CP, he can’t swallow correctly and so the aunty said he could not have solid food. He was heartbroken that he couldn’t have the treat, and he just cried and sobbed the whole time we were there. Another little girl that was doing a low moaning cry was a newly abandoned little girl that they estimated was four years old and most likely deaf. She was so overwhelmed by it all.
I fell in love with a sweet five-month-old who has a huge facial tumor between his eyes. The ayis told me how worried they are about him as it is growing rapidly. Oh this baby was interactive! If you even looked at him he broke into a huge grin, and several times I would go touch his tummy and he would belly laugh. Please pray with me that the tumor can be removed. He is on our website now for urgent sponsorship here.
We were all touched by a teeny tiny little three-year-old that most likely has a genetic syndrome but we weren’t sure what. She had little skinny fingers but the tops of her hands were swollen and puffy. Her feet were flat and puffy as well, and her hands were very creased. There was just something about her that made you want to pick her up and hold her gently.
We then were shown a premature infant boy who also had cleft lip and club foot. He was born last month and left in the cold mountain air – and when the orphanage admitted him he was severely malnourished. If you pinched the skin on his legs, it stayed pinched in a peak as he was so dehydrated. But his eyes tracked Julie wherever she went, and he appeared to be making eye contact with us. He had a very weak cry but it wasn’t inaudible. THANK GOODNESS Julie and Arlene had a cleft bottle with them, and Julie immediately trained the ayi on how to use it and how to squeeze and count. I called our medical director in Guangzhou immediately, and then our Healing Home manager to see if he could go to our home in Fujian. We are all praying that he can survive the journey and get on the path to healing.
After the orphanage visit, they took us to a beautiful local park which surrounded a lake. One of the things that you notice in this region is how very young all the parents are. Many teens are married by 15-16, and so we saw many teenage boys carrying babies on their back in papooses. We created quite a spectacle in the park, as this town rarely has foreigners. Some brave little school boys started following us, daring each other to call out “hello lady!” One little boy followed us all the way to the parking lot, giggling at his bravery, and when I took his photo he totally struck a pose for me. Future politician for sure!!!
All too soon it was time for us to make our journey to the next city, and we said goodbye with many promises that we would begin to help them medically. I would really appreciate your thoughts and prayers for many of the more vulnerable children we met here.
Amy Eldridge, Executive Director