Over the last five years, New Day Foster Home has been blessed by five visits from 'Dr Mike', an audiologist from the US. This time he brought his son Logan, an education major. They spent two days volunteering at New Day, then took a two-day trip to a government orphanage. He has very kindly shared the journal entry that he wrote about his trip.
Our travel itinerary included a two hour action packed van drive to Beijing and a smooth relaxing three hour ride on the fast train. New Day Staff member Kevin was our accompanying interpreter.
We were picked up at the train station by the orphanage staff. Upon arrival at the orphanage, greetings were exchanged and we went right to work. This orphanage has approximately 740 children in addition to some elderly residents who are unable to care for themselves. We were informed that there are about 720,000 orphans in China. This orphanage is located on a sprawling complex. While we didn't get a full tour, from what we could see, there were at least five large buildings, a designated foster family area, and two cafeterias. There was also a ''baby hatch'' that accepted abandoned babies from the community.
Initially, foster children were brought to the administrative office for us to examine. We were able to quickly remove impacted wax and screen the hearing of fifteen children. Afterwards, we walked to the building that housed the babies. They ranged in age from newborn to about 8 -10 months. There were approximately nine rooms that held seven to ten babies. There were either one or two nannies per room. I didn't go into the newborn baby rooms.
The nannies were welcoming and cooperative. I was a bit overwhelmed. As is common in many extended care facilities, even in the United States, staff to resident ratios were not ideal. Thus, care is more focused on efficiency (basic needs) versus quality of care. The first twenty babies or so examined went okay. However, the next twenty just broke my heart. Many had ear infections, upper respiratory infections, and nasal drainage, and other health problems.
After I finished with the babies, which all told were about fifty, the staff took us to the foster homes. Within the orphanage compound, there is a designated area for foster families. The foster parents live in a villa with two to five children in each villa. There were about fifteen to eighteen villas. These foster homes were clean and conducive to raising children in a ''family'' environment. My emotions were slightly disheveled as I was still rebounding from examining the babies. To be honest, I was upset. When I went into first foster home, I did not realize the residual of my emotions were displaced through my facial expressions. I came to that realization when a staff member observed me. Her facial expression changed from smiling to concern as a direct result of what she saw in me. I quickly rebounded and pushed those emotions aside. I was here to serve and not judge. When I remember that ''For even the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many'', it keeps my compass on the true north.
The orphanage assistant director met with us prior to finishing the first of our two day stay. He invited us to dinner and ordered a feast fit for a king and his entire court! The director appeared to be genuinely grateful for our efforts. After dinner, he took us on a tour to a quiet place that included many architecturally unique buildings and post-card ready scenic views.
In total, I examined the ears of approximately 70-80 babies, toddlers and pre-teenagers. Logan screened the hearing of about 20 children. They orphanage staff were hospitable, appreciative, and thankful. They wished us safe journey back and encouraged us to return.
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