Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Making a yogurt... potted plant?

We love to eat yogurt... and the only thing better than eating yogurt is making your own!  The little ones in our early learning center had fun learning how yogurt is made.  And then they turned their yogurt into... potted plants!  Are you confused yet?  Well, scroll down to see how they did it! 

Making the yogurt is simple enough... start with some milk:

Then add some yogurt culture and a little sugar:

And then all it needs is a warm place and a little time.  By the next morning it's all done!

Some crushed Oreos would make a good topping, don't you think?

Well, now that we have all this lovely "dirt", we might as well plant something. 😊

And there you have it... we made yogurt and turned it into little potted plants!  Wait... did we say potted plants?  We meant a delicious snack!


Wednesday, April 3, 2024

A "Window of Opportunity"


 Research around the world has shown that children who receive quality early childhood education are more likely to do well academically, socially, and emotionally later in life. Early childhood is a critical period of neurological development, known as a “window of opportunity”. During the first few years in life, the child’s brain undergoes rapid development.   What happens (or does not happen) during this "window of opportunity is crucial and foundational for all future learning, behavior, socialization, well-being, and overall development.  Through our Made for Love project, we set up early childhood classrooms for the children in our care, so that they can benefit from a stimulating environment and enriching experiences.

Our model of early education consists of the Montessori philosophy and theme-based learning. Together they create learning opportunities for foundational skills, such as gross and fine motor skills, cognitive abilities, language acquisition, early math exposure, and art & craft experience. It also stimulates important soft skills like imagination, curiosity, and exploration. These skills pave the way for more complex learning and social interactions later in life.

It is vital that an early education environment provide abundant opportunities for children to interact with peers and adults, to have fun together, to gain a sense of belonging and togetherness. Such an environment enables children to learn and practice social skills, empathy, collaboration, problem solving, and self-regulation, all of which are essential for academic success, relationship, and overall well-being.

We also provide ongoing staff trainings on pedagogies, adult-children interactions, the effects of trauma and play to our teachers.  To reach out to more children in need of quality early education, we collaborate with several other orphanages, training their special education teachers, helping them setting up early childhood classrooms, and providing monthly supervision. 


For children living in institutional care settings, our early education program serves as a bridge between the orphanage and the outside world so that children can know more about the world and their role in it.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Growing Up So Fast!

 Little L was abandoned in 2016 as a tiny newborn with a serious intestinal obstruction.  She was only a few days old when we agreed to help coordinate the immediate medical intervention that was needed to save her life. 

Since her surgery and recovery from that, she has been cared for in our children’s home project in a northern province. 

L has been wearing glasses and undergoing treatment for strabismus since she was a toddler.  The ophthalmologist was waiting to see if she would need surgery to resolve her vison issues, but aside from that she has been pretty healthy!

 L is now a beautiful 7-year-old who is eager to help her foster mom with chores like folding laundry, doing dishes and caring for the houseplants.  She’s been doing well in school, though she can be a bit forgetful about what she has learned in class! 

She recently traveled back to our Beijing medical home for a follow up with the ophthalmologist, and he has finally determined that she will need eye surgery after all.  We had hoped to schedule that this month, but the surgeon's calendar was quite busy, and we didn't want to keep her out of school waiting for a slot to open up.  So we're now waiting until she is on summer break and can return to Beijing when the surgeon has another opening.

Once again, we’ve seen how our assistance is not only vital to saving the lives of vulnerable children in China’s orphanages, but also in providing stable, family-based care as they grow.  All of this is possible because of your support!

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Learning about colors

 The children in our medical home had a fun lesson on colors, learning about the primary colors and how they mix to form an infinite range of other shades.  

Everyone had a chance to try out a few color combinations for themselves:

Then we did a fun craft project coloring different vegetables.  Each vegetable was actually a plastic bag affixed to the back of a cutout on paper. Different color combinations of paint in the bag can create some very lovely vegetables!

After that we had a chance to blend some paints and embellish our work by painting directly on the paper.

Since we had all those lovely colors mixed up, we finished this lesson by doing a few more paintings.  

It was a fun day, and we learned a lot!

Friday, March 1, 2024

Created to Love and Connect

Recently we introduced our Made for Love project and explained the background about why we began this initiative and what we are doing.  Now we would like to give you a little glimpse into our goals and the philosophies that guide our work.

The most important principle that guides our work is the belief that children are created to love and connect.  Everyone knows that children need adequate nutrition, clothing, medical care and shelter.  Yet even when these are not lacking, we still see the terribly harmful effects of institutionalization. 

 Numerous evidence-based studies have demonstrated the crucial role that nurturing relationships play in determining both physical and emotional well-being during infancy and beyond. Indeed, human beings are born with intense needs for love, care,  and connection.  These are essential to a child's healthy brain development.  

We believe that meeting these emotional needs is every bit as important as meeting the child's physical needs.  This is true, perhaps especially true, for children who have been diagnosed with physical and intellectual disabilities.  Not only does scientific research prove this, we have seen with our own eyes - children's lives are literally transformed when their emotional needs for love and connection are being met. 

But, how do we help children who have become separated from their families? It is not within the scope of our work to facilitate birth family reunification or adoption placements.  What we can do is to provide nurturing relationships and a rich and supportive environment for the children in our care - starting as early as possible. 

In our work, we strive to support children in forming meaningful and stable connections with caregivers, group home parents, and early childhood classroom teachers. These important adults play a critical role in meeting children’s emotional needs and fostering healthy attachments. By offering love, consistency, and responsive care, we can help children feel safe, treasured, and capable of forming trusting relationships.

It is also important that the children in our care enjoy meaningful and joyful relationships with peers and siblings. What a blessing it is to have someone to play with, sometimes fight with, and grow up together with!

What is equally important for children in institutional-care settings is to be able to participate in a supportive environment which is rich in cultural and social activities. The outside world is brought to the children through well-planned everyday life and educational activities. We do our best to create a nurturing environment where children feel accepted, valued, and supported, where they learn to understand the world they live in, love themselves and the people around them.

Children are made for love.  Love and a sense of value and belonging are among the greatest gifts we can offer them!

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Off to a good start!

This February we’d like to share the story of Q - a little boy who arrived at one of our baby homes last fall.

Baby Q was abandoned last October in a central province as a tiny newborn, and when he arrived at the orphanage they asked if we could help him.  He was very tiny, weighing barely 5 lbs.  He also had a heart murmur, which may be the reason that his family decided they were not able to care for him.

Despite his low birthweight and heart murmur, little Q seemed otherwise healthy.  He soon settled in to a very predictable routine of eating, sleeping and snuggling with his special nanny.  It wasn’t long before he had put on quite a bit of weight and was sporting a double chin!  

We were able to consult with the cardiac specialists, who confirmed that while he did have some minor heart issues, these would resolve over time and would not require surgery.   We were so glad to hear that!

Q is a very easy-going little fellow, who smiles often and loves to be held.  We are hoping his orphanage will consider an adoption placement for him in the near future.  We are grateful for all of our supporters who have made it possible to help Q get off to a good start!