When I traveled to China in May for LWB, I was especially excited for a chance to visit the participants of our Preparation for Adult Life (PAL) and older teens in one of the orphanages we help in Guangdong. I’ve always loved teenagers. There’s something about their earnestness and playfulness all covered up in a desire to appear grown up that I find delightful.
On the first day of my visit I had lunch with the main caretaker of the PAL teens and older children at the orphanage, Miss Hua. I asked what her main concern is for the program. She answered that discipline of the teens was sometimes challenging. As she described situations that she’s been dealing with I realized just how much respect I have for this woman who has been taking care of and involved in the lives of these teens for many years and watches them grow toward adulthood.
Back at the orphanage, she showed me a reward system and chart that she had devised to encourage each teen in her charge to follow the rules in regard to appearance, attitude and completion of individual chores including homework. It seems to be helping.
On my second day I visited with the girls when they were home from school on lunch break. All the girls were very hospitable and excited to see me. I had given each of them a postcard with one word of a sentence on the back that encouraged them to listen to their teachers and study. I also gave them instructions for them to solve the puzzle of the postcards. The girls enthusiastically told me that they had solved the puzzle and which word of the sentence each had translated. And, the girls so appreciated letters their sponsors sent to me to deliver. Each girl wanted me to thank their sponsors for their support when I got home. When I asked the girls to write a note to their sponsors they ran for paper and pen and got busy writing in Chinese and English. I had a blast helping spell words and collecting notes to carry home for their sponsors.
As I toured the teen’s living quarters, Miss Hua showed me that all the books in their small library have been read. They are in need of new books in Chinese for the kids to read in their “down” time. I passed this request along to Amy Eldridge to share with parents who are adopting from this orphanage. It’s possible that some adoptive parents will purchase books for the library when they are in China. However, this is not an easy task to do on an adoption trip. There is now a donation gift card option on the LWB website. Donors who wish to buy books for the teens can do so through that link. http://www.lovewithoutboundaries.com/SponsorEducation.php
I was able to stay for dinner before my flight back to Guangzhou and the remainder of my travels with LWB. Dinner was a delightful experience. The cook made a delicious meal of local foods. The PAL teens and staff surrounded me and took care of filling my plate, chatting with me and making sure I felt welcome. I had the most distinct feeling of family as I shared a meal with the kids.
After dinner, several of the teens accompanied me outside to the courtyard where I waited for a driver to take me to the airport. I shared photos of my family and answered questions about my life and my thoughts about their town. One of the teens, was especially good at using her new English. She asked me many questions about what it is like to live in the states. She was and patient with me as I tried to answer some of her questions in my limited Chinese. I felt like I was sitting outside with cousins after a holiday dinner…away from the adults but acting like adults. Again, the feeling of family surprised and thrilled me. These kids really do love each other and those of us who support them with thoughts, prayers and donations. I hope I have another chance to visit them soon.
Linda Mitchell- LWB Education Director