Last month, our Beijing administrative staff arrived in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, ready and excited to inspire change. Thanks to the generosity of Half the Sky Australia (HTSA) supporters, Half the Sky opened its 56th Children’s Centre and 24th provincial Model Centre and Training Facility. For many of our Beijing staffers, this was their first time participating in the magical transformation of a build.
Although Half the Sky has done this 55 times in the past, we never cease to be amazed by the speed at which transformation occurs. This time was no different!
Half the Sky’s Programme Finance Manager, Vera Zhou, who is usually at her desk in Beijing crunching the numbers that ensure programs stay cost effective, was awed by the transformation of the babies. She was especially touched by one-year-old Jingjing, one of the 56 babies in our new Infant Nurture Programme:
Jingjing is a beautiful, healthy baby with big eyes that at first stared into space and steadfastly avoided any contact her new nanny Zhang Lihua. After just a few days, I noticed that Jingjing began to take the toys her nanny gave her, but didn’t play with them. Whenever Jingjing heard a noise, she would drop the toy and fearfully look around to trace the sound. On day three, Jingjing greeted Nanny Zhang by throwing herself into her arms. Later that day, I saw Jingjing contentedly nestling on her nanny’s lap. By day four, Nanny Zhang and Jingjing were co-conspirators, whooping and shrieking as they tore up scrap paper, rolled it into small balls and joyfully threw the balls around. Best of all, when they finished, I saw Jingjing look directly into her nanny’s eyes and smile for the first time.
Children’s Programme Coordinator, Maggie Yu, who is responsible for sending out progress reports to sponsors and adoptive families, was most impressed by the training:
It was very interactive and motivating!
For example, caregivers who had never met before were asked to pair up and try to identify each other’s strengths in front of the group, as a special exercise to illustrate the importance of open communication.
Being able to identifying children’s strengths and adapting to their individual personalities is an essential skill when providing loving and responsive care to a child.
Xu Lin, one of the new Kunming preschool teachers, said the training she received in Kunming helped her to connect with three-year-old Xinmao, one of the 30 preschoolers enrolled in our Little Sisters Preschool Programme:
When I first met Xinmao, I used soft, gentle words and body language to communicate, just as I had learned in my training. But Xinmao didn’t respond at all. Again, following my training, I was patient and persistent.
Things started to change when I learned that Xinmao loved being outside. He was captivated by the seesaw on the playground and even cautiously played on it with me.
Soon there was another breakthrough when Xinmao, with my help, made a caterpillar out of play dough and proudly showed it off to everyone around him.
The next day Xinmao got frightened when he saw an ant moving across the ground and moved closer to me for protection. I felt that meant he was truly starting to trust me. I reassured him and to my surprise, he reached out and gave me a hug!
Our Beijing team had the pleasure of witnessing another life-changing moment during their visit: the first meeting between children enrolled in our Family Village programme and their new foster parents.
In total, 32 children will be joining foster families in Kunming and learning firsthand what love feels like.
On July 11, we gathered to officially celebrate the opening of our new centre. Orphanage officials and staff gathered to watch the children and their caregivers perform songs and dances. Together, we celebrated a new era in childcare for the children of Kunming.
Thank you for helping make this centre possible! If you would like to support our Kunming and Changsha projects, and receive an Australian tax receipt, please donate here.