In the Guangdong province, we have a program called PAL, which stands for Preparation for Adult Living. It had become very clear to us as we followed children over the last four years, that many kids who grow up in orphanages don't have an opportunity to learn a lot of important life skills that a child would learn growing up with a parent. For instance, if an orphanage has a cook on staff, then chances are the kids don't get to take part in helping to prepare meals. They are usually just served the food when it is ready, and so they don't get to learn how to cook for themselves for when they enter society. Also, most orphaned children don't have access to "allowances", where they would learn the skills of saving money, spending wisely, and bargaining.
LWB is trying to tackle some of these real life issues for teenagers living in orphanages, and one of the ways, which might seem quite small, is by occasionally giving the teens a small allowance at special times like Chinese New Year, so that they can go out to the stores and markets and learn how to bargain. This year we also began giving each teen 100 rmb (about $13) on their birthday, so that they could choose the presents that would bring them the most joy on that special day but also so that they can once again have an opportunity to practice money management.
We just got in some photos from a wonderful teen's birthday. Emily has always been such a special girl to me. She had been involved in a severe accident with her legs which left her unable to attend public school when she was younger. She ALWAYS has a beautiful smile on her face and is just always so happy with any small thing she is given in life. I was really looking forward to seeing what she chose with her birthday funds.
I just love the first photo of the girls shopping because it shows what a fun afternoon they had together. After spending a GREAT deal of time in the shoe aisle (go Emily!), she decided on the following:
Cup -- 5.90 RMB
Shoes -- 39.7 rmb
bobby socks -- 6.9 rmb
T-shirt -- 19.8 rmb
Chewing gum -- 1.2 rmb
ham -- 2 rmb
Hamburger -- two. 7.9+7.9= 15.8rmb
Total: 91.3 RMB
We all wish we could have been there for her special day. And Emily...I do love those pink shoes!