Running Through China: Our Day in Fuyang
During our recent trip to the China, we visited the Fuyang orphanage in Anhui. Fuyang is a very rural area, and the main orphanage has approximately 200 children in its care. We have liked working with Fuyang over the years as the staff really wants to help the children in every way possible, despite their very limited resources. Many of you might remember that Fuyang didn’t used to have doors or windows covering the openings to the outside, or any sort of heating system despite the fact that Anhui is a very cold province in the winter. LWB helped with this need several years ago, and the orphanage staff is still very grateful to the donors who helped put in the heavy tarps over the door frames and the coal/radiator heating system.
Some of you might also remember that this is the orphanage that had made almost all of their physical therapy equipment by hand. They had sewn bolsters and handmade splints for the kids. Even with limited equipment, they still do PT with their children every day. They are really hoping we can help them with even more training. LWB had also helped them several years ago by hiring a doctor for the orphanage, and she is making a big difference here. (Actually, they said a HUGE difference). She can give antibiotics to kids, diagnose when children have infections, and sees about 30 kids a day on average for medical check ups. THANK YOU to the people who help make her salary possible!
The baby rooms we visited were full to capacity, and just like the last orphanage….every baby had a medical need. There was a baby with cleft that I know we are sending to the cleft home soon, and another baby with microtia who was so interactive and smiley. One little baby had been born without the bottom of his legs, and another little boy who appeared to be the size of a newborn was actually over one year old, but had a heart defect. It’s heartbreaking to see so many children who need medical help.
My helper during our play time with the older kids was a little boy who has suffered with incontinence following a surgery as a baby. Because of this, he has been shunned at school, and none of the local parents want him to play with their kids or sit by their children in school. The orphanage told us he weighs on them heavily, as he is extremely outgoing, polite, and smart. They believe his only chance at any sort of happiness in life is to become continent. There is a surgeon in Zhengzhou who is very famous worldwide who is doing a nerve surgery to help restore continence in children, who believes that 87% of his patients improve post surgery. The surgery has some risks, however. This little boy really weighed on our hearts as well, because he SO doesn’t deserve the hand he has been dealt in life. I can’t stand thinking he will be shunned his entire life if he isn’t helped. In a different world, I can picture him with a loving family…..at a wonderful school, being the leader of his class and getting top grades.
We got to meet with many of the children in our foster care program while we were in Fuyang. Rex is a little boy with albinism who has been on the shared list for quite some time. He is very smart and curious, and we all loved spending time with him.
We all kept commenting that it is such a shame that potential adoptive parents can’t somehow meet these kids in person, as there wasn’t a single child we met that we weren’t thinking, “oh, what a blessing it would be to have them as a son or daughter!” I think sometimes a special need can seem a bit overwhelming on paper, but then when you meet the CHILD in person…..you realize that the need is not what defines them in any way. They are just beautiful children who need someone to love them.
We had a really fun visit with the foster families, and driving away was a memorable scene. We had made balloon animals for the kids and then handed out cookie tins, and after our meeting we were heading out in the van past all the rural crop fields, and we passed family after family trying to carry their foster child, the cookie tin, and then you would see this brightly colored balloon animal as well. Other families in the village had come out to stare, and I am sure they were wondering WHAT in the world was going on. Li Yuan’s foster grandma had her in a wagon, and there was something just a little surreal about seeing her pulling a cart with LiYuan on a muddy dirt road, with the cart filled with rainbow balloons. I’m probably not making much sense – I think you had to be there to appreciate the disparity of it all.
I love being in rural China. The families we meet are so kind and warm hearted, and the orphanage staff we meet are all trying their very best with very limited resources.
Amy Eldridge is the Executive Director of Love Without Boundaries.