Sunday, June 26, 2011

After my last post I decided I couldn’t end without also giving all of you (my blog readers) the human face of CP. Here are just a few faces of Living Tree………

This little guy quickly melted my heart. Jing Wa was abandon in a cardboard box at a mear 2 pounds. He is now 4 years old and struggles with both CP & CF. He always sounds like he is breathing through a water filled snorkel but the therapy ball really seems to help.

This amazing young man is David. He is one of Tina's many success stories. David has tremendous drive and has learned to walk with the assistance of the walker. He also attends school in Beijing 5 days a week and now speaks fluent English.

Mom had her favorite too! A sweet young lady named Yu Fong. She had beautiful eyes and the longest eyelashes.

This young man also struggles with CP and moved to Living Tree from a state run orphanage. While there he was placed in scalding water by another patient. With burns from the waist down he needed the additional care Living Tree could provide.

Living Tree

For the final three days of our trip we worked at the Living Tree Orphanage in Yanjiao. This special needs facility is broken up into three groups based on age & ability. The majority of the 35 children suffer from cerebral palsy. On day one the director, Tina began with an orientation and tour before giving us our assignments.
First stop was Love Home where we found a rambunctious group kids between 4-10 with the most mobile & cognitive abilities. Next was Peace Home which homes twelve babies & toddlers. Finally, Joy Home where Mom & I would eventually be assigned, housed 10 children between ages 4 – 16 who were considered the most severe needs. I will admit at first I was disappointed I was hoping for the Love Home but, I knew if I was going to get the most from this experience I needed to be open minded.

For the next two days we worked full time feeding, cleaning, engaging, massaging & and lots of physical therapy. At first I was uneasy being so far out of my comfort zone. But, the kids were completely unaware of my apprehension & inexperience. They were simply happy to be acknowledged. We quickly learned the ropes and began to understand their different personalities and the compelling stories of how they came to be at Living Tree.
As our time at Living Tree came to a close I learned that my first cautious reaction was well worth overcoming. Before Yanjiao I would have likely avoided similar situations but now CP has a human face. I learned to look at these children with compassion rather than pity. I do hope to return someday with my own kids. It is important for young people to help others less fortunate than themselves. I want them to see it does not take super-human qualities only a change in attitude.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Light of Hope

Our first day of service would be at the Light of Hope Orphanage in Zhao Xian County, south of Shijiazhuang, about a four hour drive from Beijing, China. Home to 56 children from infants to college age. We arrived at the gate and before we could even unload the children began pouring out and their excitement was infectious. We had come with new shoes & socks for every child and like any child they were very eager to help us with the packages. Kids between 2 and 8 buzzed about; we came to learn the older children were still in school and would arrive later in the evening. Some warmed up to us faster than others but I quickly gained a few friends with my camera.

En Mei a spunky young lady probably 3 years old was fascinated by her image and soon took over the camera snapping her own shots. En Mei was abandon at the orphanage with a minor cleft pallet which has now been repaired.
Andrew’s kindergarten class collected socks which I presented to Moses the director. He was very pleased as socks are always a must. Little did I know the kids would find such pleasure in tossing the bagged socks around and creating games with them.

We were taken on a tour of the orphanage and shown the construction project our previous groups had done. The kids proudly showed off their rooms.

As evening approached it was nearly time for us to leave. The middle school & high schoolers began to arrive home on their bicycles and the little ones cheered. We watched as they each received their new shoes and then they lead us to the gate and waved goodbye.

Check it off the bucket list.

This feat has been at the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember and I can now officially check it off. Our group traveled to the Badaling section of the Great Wall on Wednesday.

First build in 7th century and stretching over 4,000 miles it truly is an incomprehensible feat of engineering. A breathtaking sight, snaking up and down mountaintops as far as the eye could see. Our bus dropped us at the bottom of the mountain and our trek began. If you stretched your neck all the way back you would see our goal, a watchtower in the clouds.

I prepared myself for a lot of steps but until I was standing up there I never realized how but I steep terrain was. We did not walk the Great Wall we climbed it. Up the mountain the steps ascended, each a different height giving your body no opportunity to find a rhythm. It took us over an hour to reach the first watch tower but the views were magnificent.

It is included on almost every list of must-see sights around the world and rightfully so! And who would have guessed going down was more challenging than going up!

Ode to the Squatty Potty

I observed this lavatory delight in Korea but not to the extent I have seen them here in China! My instinct to research & organize everything paid off. Before leaving on this trip I did a little squatty potty research and found several YouTube videos on the subject. It was only a matter of hours into the trip when I encountered my first set of squatty only restrooms. Thankfully my research paid off and I successful mastered it without getting anything on my clothes!!  I also remembered to bring my own toilet paper and enough for the rest of the ladies. Our group did joke that it would be an entirely different experience should one be intoxicated.

China Blog

When my friend Bill shared the details about his upcoming service project in China I was immediately onboard. Sightseeing all the major Beijing attractions and spending several days doing volunteer work at orphanages was just my style.

Now, here I am rolling down a Beijing highway blogging of my adventures.

Mom and I arrived safely after an uneventful flight on Air Canada and met up with our group in baggage claim. Seventeen of us hailing from Northeast Ohio and three from China. We have Ms. Cai the Chinese liaison for the FAC adoption agency. Brett, our Chinese interrupter and David, a 35 year old from Stow, Ohio who has been living & teaching in China for six years. Together we headed off by bus to our apartment in Olympic Village. By dusk we were strolling through Olympic Park snapping tons of pictures of the Birds Nest, Water Cube and torch.

The next morning we visited the famous Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City. This is where our group spotted its first “split pants” as we called it. A popular form of potty training where toddlers wear shorts/pants with a split up the seam and no underpants, giving the child quick and easy access anywhere any time. No doubt cost effective but unusual for us Americans to see bear butts in public places.

The highlight of the day was a rickshaw ride through the Hutong Village & lunch in a local family’s home.
Mr & Mrs Liu were gracious hosts and filled us with every sort of Chinese dish imaginable. The food was excellent and I was amazed by Mrs Liu’s abilities in a kitchen without a stove and no bigger than my guest bathroom. After our meal Mr. Liu was eager to share his prize winning crickets with us. Oh yes, Crickets!! Mr Cricket as he is better know is the top cricket fighter in the country and will be featured on HBO & ESPN in Japan. He explained (through a translator of course) the different cricket fighting equipment, weight classes and objectives. I now know more than I ever needed to about the subject and I can proudly say I have met the Michael Vick of Cricket Fighting!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Schools Out!

Another year in the books. :) Sydney had a fantastic year in Mrs McDaniel's 3rd grade class. She ended the quarter with 2 A's and 2 B's.

Andrew loved kindergarten just as we suspected and is reading well into a first grade level. He is excited to join Sydney at the elementary building next fall.

For their first official day of summer we hit a very crowded Dogwood Pool. Andrew took the plunge off the high dive for the first time!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Girls On The Run

Congratulations Sydney!!! She finished her first 5K race today with grandma at her side. She has been training twice a week with Girls on the Run Team learning running technique along with self-respect and healthy lifestyles. Each lesson provides girls with the tools to make positive decisions and to avoid risky adolescent behaviors.

Today her team, along with their personal running buddies ran the Girls On The Run 5K at Walsh College. Sydney finished in 36.38.