Friday, March 25, 2016

Thursday at XuChang

We drove up to the orphanage and were surprised to be greeted by a new large statue of Kung
Fu panda. No one seems to be able to explain why. We just enjoyed it !!


Leslie spent much of the day reviewing therapies with the ayis. We have been so pleased with
how receptive all of the staff has been. It is so refreshing to look across the room and see the
ayis implementing what they have been taught.


 We were privileged to be able to give care packages to three of our First Hugs kids from their
forever families.  QiRui took a few sweet yams we did not eat at lunch yesterday with a plan to use them for the children. She mixed up the pureed vegetable with yoghurt. The children all loved it. And we are so thrilled with the nutrition. Look how colorful it is !!

The nannies will need a place to be able to work one on one with the children on fine motor
skills and sensory. They will work with buckets of rice or beans, scoops, spoons and plastic toys.
The small plastic gate we put up will help keep curious babies out til it is their turn !!

After we left the orphanage we were invited to a special dinner with the Director of Civil affairs,
the orphanage director and two other directors from XuChang orphanage. We had a lovely meal
and were able thank the director for the opportunity to work at XuChang. We have been so
impressed with the orphanage's openness to work with us!!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

XuChang Day 4: Training and Nutrition

Aimee and Leslie (our physical therapist and occupational therapist!) sat with all the nannies this morning to share ways to help all the children. They used the "peanut" to show how to help build strength and muscle tone, showed Ayis how building overall muscle strength will help the kids in many ways. They showed feeding methods and exercises. The children cooperated and were good "model" helpers (who did not know they were models; they thought they were just playing!!)

Moya and Krista spent time with three wonderful kiddos who had coughs so were in the baby room during training. We snuggled and fed and played with three awesome kiddos who just happened to have Down Syndrome. Peter has the most expressive face!! (and is healthy except for that little cough. Just a month ago he was in the hospital and we were so worried about him!)

After we enjoyed yet another awesome lunch in the orphanage cafeteria ( Leslie and Krista are crazy for the peanut milk they serve with lunch), Krista made her way into the kitchen to talk with the cook. We bought QiRui, our room manager, and Linda, our translator, in with us. Krista had seen the cook with some pieces of baked pumpkin. She offered some to Krista and I (Moya). Delicious! And of course, so nutritious. Krista explained that it would be easy to bake some sweet potato, pumpkin or squash for the kids and feed them bits of it all week.


We headed to the store ( called the Manhattan Mall) to get some fruit for the children for the week. An avocado was $4! Yoghurt, apples and bananas, however, were very cheap. We also bought a mini fridge. There we can keep fruits and yoghurt we buy for the kids in First Hugs. We already use a small blender to blend fruits to a good consistency for smaller kids. Krista showed QiRui how to microwave apples to make them mushy, then mix with yoghurt and banana. Yummy! ( And nutritious)

We have already seen a huge difference in our kids' faces from a month ago when we started feeding them fresh fruits.

Later we had QiRui talk to the orphanage director about the ability to cook vegetables for our kids. After some discussion which went back and forth about whether there was room in the schedule or the oven at the orphanage (not in the larger kitchen where we eat), we heard some very good news. The orphanage will buy the vegetables and wants to cook them for ALL of the children in the orphanage! Oh my word. SO happy!!

We are pleased with how much we have accomplished so far this week. We have been so impressed with the willingness of the nannies and leadership of XuChang Orphanage to learn new ways to do what is best for the children. We are very hopeful for First Hugs at XuChang.

Thanks again to all of our supporters who have helped to make this possible.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Day 2: XuChang

Today saw more evaluations by our Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist. Aimee and Leslie have already begun working with each child's ayi to teach them how to work with the children. For example, our Kendall has some challenges with eating and her nanny was taught how to use spoon placement to help Kendall more successfully be able to eat off a spoon. She also learned how to position the spoon so Kendall can swallow better.

We put together some of the high chairs our supporters bought to start showing the nannies how to let the kids "work" in the chairs. They will have a chance to feel their food, practice fine motor skills in picking up their food and work on posture and trunk strength as well as head and neck control.

Lunch was amazing again. We are eating in the orphanage cafeteria each day and the cook ( aka chef) is very talented. Today's favorites included an egg and tomato soup, eggplant and tomato dish and chicken and cabbage dishes! We are being well fed!

After nap time, we followed our Amelia on a walk with her ayi. They explored the blossoming trees on the orphanage grounds.

The children are already enjoying their new toys. A bunch of kids rushed to join their ayi who was drumming on our "peanut" which can be used to build core strength. They were so enjoying just having fun with it. The piggy bank with plastic coins was a big hit with kids practicing fine motor skills ( shh! They don't know their play is therapy!) And just putting things in a bucket  and taking them back out again was a good time.

 We will have dinner with the head of local civil affairs this week and the orphanage director has invited the media. It will be a way to bring more exposure to the children and the orphanage and perhaps garner more interest from the public in helping orphans.

Each one of the kids we have met are so precious. We are falling in love! Thanks again for your support. We are so lucky to have Aimee and Leslie with us to help these children, train the nannies and help children that will be in their care in the future.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Photos from the First Day at XuChang


Children in the First Hugs Program XuChang, SWI Henan

         Lunchtime Vegetables


 Unpacking the donations


We visit XuChang First Hugs


After an amazing breakfast at the hotel, we headed out to orphanage by 8:30. We were so excited to meet the children. We were met out front of the orphanage by QiRui, our room manager, Yang Yang, who is responsible for First Hugs at the orphanage, and the woman who prepares files for adoption. We were welcomed and thrilled to be there. We first spent time with the some of the smaller babies in the room all the kids sleep in. We had a chance to feed them and of course our experts, Leslie and Aimee were able to start assessing some needs and how we might help them right away!

Aimee and Leslie set up the equipment Leslie borrowed from her generous audiologist and began doing preliminary hearing screens on all the kids. Krista and I (Moya) headed up to the playroom to watch the kids through the window, not wanting to disturb them interacting with their nannies. They enjoyed their fruit  for the morning, sliced banana, and then went back to playing. We joined them and played some, getting to know them before lunch and then nap time. 

Our lunch in the cafeteria was fabulous. And the vegetables waiting to be cooked were breathtaking. Really!

After we finished lunch and while the kids were still playing, our shipped luggage arrived from Beijing. We worked with QiRui, Yang Yang,  and several other staff to unpack and organize them all. By the time the kids, awoke we had decided which toys would be out for now, which would be stored to be used next week, a taggy blanket (thanks Suzanne Butler Court) was in each child's crib and the orphanage staff were so happy!  The kids came to the playroom  and dove right into the new toys. We loved seeing the smaller babies on the playmats with toys overhead and on their tummies on boppy pillows. Aimee and Leslie began evaluating each child to see how they might be helped and what they will teach the nannies in the next few days. 

We ended our day with a short trip to the mall to get a few more storage containers for sensory items and some cough medicine for Leslie. QiRui wanted to accompany us but there was no room in the car so she was going to ride with Yang Yang on her motor scooter. The words were hardly out of QiRui's mouth when Krista (literally) jumped out of the car and offered to go on the bike. She so enjoyed that ride! Back at the Hotel now and getting ready to meet with our team (Krista, Moya, Leslie and Aimee) to review our notes for the day and prepare for tomorrow.  Thanks so much to all of our supporters for their generosity. Our nannies and the orphanage staff were blown away by your generosity!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

China Trip, we made it!!

It's been an adventure filled few days since we landed in China Friday night. We all planned to meet at the terminal after collecting luggage. Aimee and Lesley arrived together several hours after Krista. Moya arrived soon after. Unbeknownst to us ( note to self: check this detail in the future) Moya landed at a whole different terminal. So she got a cab to the hotel alone. The driver got lost, pulled over and tried to figure out where to go. Eventually she safely joined the others at the hotel...although for a few minutes, she was worried.   Friday morning after a coffee at the nearby Starbucks, we spent time negotiating how to get 400 lbs of donations shipped to the orphanage. We made a new friend in the concierge and eventually all was settled by calling another company. The duffel bags were taped to the top of a vehicle! Here is Krista with said luggage transporter!

The Doubletree was then unable to get us a cab to take us to the train station and told us it would be easier to take the subway. What??!!. So we walked a block to subway and negotiated that. Leslie had her bag lifted and pushed onto the train by an employee at the door was going. We made it to the train station and found our way to our gate. "Quickly, quickly", said the man who checked our ticket. We thought we had almost 15 minutes to our train but the uniformed employee who let us through the gate and ran with us to the train indicated otherwise. We barely made it on the train-car 6 and had to make our way through 5 cars to get to our seats!

A few hours later at 300 km/ph we arrived in Zhengzhou. We got subway tickets and emerged above ground just minutes from our hotel. Whew! We had a lovely dinner at a noodle joint, met a new friend who offered us free translation any time ( she works in sales and manufacturing) and then made a short trip to Wal-Mart. The next morning, we set out to buy some things our OT and PT (Leslie and Aimee!!) need to help our kiddos. QiRui, our room manager, and Yang Yang, the assistant director met us at the hotel to give us a ride to XuChang. There was not enough room in the car so Yang Yang. QiRui and Krista took the fast train. We checked into the hotel with some issue as they wanted twice our week room charge as a deposit and our credit cards were not working. Sigh. Finally my debit card worked and Leslie went with QiRui to 8 banks to get a debit machine to take her card and spit out money.
Finally we went to dinner down the street for some delicious hot pot. We were surprised to see a robot delivering food! Tomorrow we are very excited to head to the orphanage and meet "our" kids.