Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Love & Desheng SWI, October 2009

   As always the highlight of the trip...a visit to Desheng SWI.
 Such a mix of emotions......I can never quite find the words to describe it adequately. Over the years I have visited, the feelings have changed from huge excitement to a comfortable familiarity....from the nervousness first felt in 2005, to in many ways now feeling a part of the "Desheng Family" with all that being a part of a family entails......

But always the same buzz as we arrive at the now familiar gate.......

I love to stand at the new building and look out at the Desheng karst mountains beyond.

Last year we looked out to the mist and torrential rain...this year to the glorious sunshine.

Last year the red lanterns at the gate, this year the flags to commemorate
 the revolution.
Mr Yao the director, Ms Qin the doctor, nannies and foster mothers all waiting to greet us, or more importantly, our children.
Xiao Xiao, anxious to get us in to start the
 training as there was lots of work to
So no time for a Welcome Photo!!!

I had been invited to present Training to staff, nannies and foster families on Working with Teenagers. I was honoured, but also a little apprehensive.... did they know MY teenagers???????
Teenagers have always been part of my daily life...but do I understand them? Well, actually more than I thought! It was very interesting to do the preparations based partly on my own experiences as a mother and teacher of teenagers...... and also the expertise of others older, wiser and more experienced than me:-)
 I still had so much to learn!
It was good to share my own
experiences but also learn more
along with the staff.                                                     

It was good to be part of the team
presenting, from Xiao Xiao
who translated the text, and then so ably
translated as I was talking and sharing
experiences......... to Peter the technical expert.                      
Last but not least, some drama excerpts from Foster mothers and Grace-Hope staff.
When Xiao and Susan were re-enacting the powerful loss felt by many of the teenagers we would be working with, it was hard to remain in control and was a real reminder of the emotional pain of many of the teenagers in institutions. As they acted out the tearful teenage experience, I could tell that they were moved beyond words. Certainly we all were in the  audience , and was a stark reminder of why we were there..

After training,we wandered downtown Desheng to the now familiar restaurant where we have always eaten with Desheng staff. The food was delicious as always..."hen hao"  It was very interesting to sit with Mr Yao and discuss his former life as a teacher, his own family and some of his own views. He was very interested in why we were there doing this work with the Desheng staff for the Desheng children. Matthew enabled a very meaningful conversation about the power of love from God and its effects on our lives....Very interesting!
This was now rest time for the staff...but not for us. It was time to explore downtown Desheng revisiting the favourite spots. By now the staff have stopped asking if we will be OK, know where we are going, how we will get back etc....
Last year we did this in the torrential rain,
so it was wonderful to enjoy the
sunshine this time :-)
In fact, it was so nice it inspired me to
snap the brightest spots I could find :-)

                                               I just loved taking all these bright photos :-)

On visiting our favourite shops

we were greeted with welcoming smiles and gestures which showed they remembered us from last year.

This was the amused audience as we made our purchases :-)

Soon it was time to head back to
the SWI for the afternoon where
Cindy would be presenting on care
for blind children.

Walking up the same old road
we noticed improvements from
 last pavements
and street lights.
Some of the old shops
had also vanished with new
 buildings appearing.
It seems that Desheng is changing fast like
so many places in China today.

Before the afternoon training started, there was time to chat with nannies,
help arrange the gifts for the Jinchengjiang SWI children with the Assistant Director.......
....and share the much longed for photos
sent by Desheng families. There is always great excitement, shouts of joy when the foster mothers and  nannies recognise the children they have loved and cared for during their time at Desheng.
and presents to take home to the children adopted around the world.

At the end of a long and satisfying day,
we headed back thro the mountains
at dusk .....

thro the Toll between Desheng and

.....towards the Jinchengjiang Bridge
for a relaxing evening in Hechi,
eating, strolling at night, with a
 wee trip to the Bouncy
Castle for the kids!!!!!

Next day, early start back at Desheng
where Cindy was presenting training for
children with cerebral palsy.

 Mr Yao lead us in to begin......

Cindy began her training with some real live"patients" :-) and an interested audience!
There are many children in the orphanages today who have cerebral palsy and much training is needed to help the staff to do exercises to help improve their lives, enabling them to function to their full potential
It is also important to emphasise the improvements that these precious children can experience living with a loving foster family who can help with their therapy treatments. It is really valuable to be able to help and reassure foster mothers in particular that they can do this with support and give these children a home outside of the SWI.

Meanwhile, outside in the grounds,
 the men were on child-watch! Or to be more precise - Ant Watch :-) 
There is a job for everyone here!!!!

Even the wildlife played their part to
keep our children occupied. Siona was fascinated by the colony of ants busy going about their business
Eilidh was delighted to meet a frog who seemed quite happy to sit in her hands
And when interest in that faded there were some great aeroplanes ( Matthew and Iain) flying around...... to keep the girls occupied
The famous old swing, where many of our girls have played over the years has not lost its appeal .....

...for any age group......... Our girls had fun playing with the young and the old!
Then they had a special visit from an old friend, Director Wei. He was delighted to see them again, calling them by their Chinese names and welcoming them with a big hug!

At the break, a special delivery of photos from families down to the kitchen, where the congee for the babies was being prepared in large buckets
And a lovely gift of juice for all the girls :-)
While we were continuing discussions/trainings with staff, Iain was able to take the girls up to the Playroom, donated by Desheng Families in 2005. The SWI children were able to join them and they had some great fun playing together. It was great to see the toys in use with the SWI children enjoying them. It hardly seems five years since we had gone there in great excitement helping the staff to build the toys for the many children there at that time .

After this, Cindy was able to meet with some of the children remaining in the SWI to assess their needs and suggest therapies and equipment to help improve their lives. Some of them have very severe needs and are in urgent need of help. It was fantastic that this was possible!!!!!!!!!

I was able to go to through to the baby rooms next door where I could only sit on the floor and hold hands and stroke precious faces. I cannot remember a time where I have felt more struck by the need to DO something...and yet felt so powerless........... 
Thankfully, we have made more progress than I dreamed possible at that time...and as we speak, plans are in place to cater for the needs of these children, while wheelchairs, equipments and toys are on their way with Cindy K and her family as they visit Desheng with gifts from Desheng Families.

Xiao Xiao translated all the instructions on the medications we had brought, so kindly donated by St Margaret's Church in Dunfermline. Hopefully this will bring some small measure of relief to the children in need .

All too soon, once again it was time to say Goodbye, with presents from the USA,  shortbread from Scotland,  photos of the Desheng children.....

........hand-knitted jackets for babies........

and some beautiful hand stitched quilts from a special Dunfermline lady  for the babies there.

 Last but certainly not least, a special Banner made by some very special ladies in St Margaret's Church,
 Dunfermline and presented on behalf of all the Desheng Families Around the World who have been so blessed by their wonderful Desheng children.

As always, an amazing experience, filled with many memories and special connections..................
Thank you to all who participated in so many different was wonderful to take your gifts, photos, good wishes and share them all at Desheng.

It would not have been the same without you :-)