Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The 2014 Austrian Embassy Charity Ski Race

Combining charity work with winter sport, family fun, and some amazing Austrian national spirit, the 2014 Austrian Charity Ski Race has come and gone once again. With over 500 participants from more than a dozen countries, the event was a huge success. Last year, they raised over RMB 445,000 for Little Flower children,  and we are so happy to have been a part of their event again this year.

This was Little Flower's third year participating in the annual Charity Ski Race run by the amazing people at the Austrian Embassy in Beijing, who--after months of hard work and planning--were able to pull off their biggest event yet. On Friday, guests were transported to the Genting Grand Ski Resort about 3-4 hours outside of Beijing, and the fun commenced. Guests were greeted upon arrival by an Austrian band, who played music the entire weekend, and everyone enjoyed an Austrian wine reception that evening. Ambassador Irene Giner-Reichl was in attendance, as were families and guests from Austria, China, and other countries around the world.

Sarah Leung and Mirjam Grueter, two of our Development Team members, also attended the race to represent Little Flower!

On Saturday, the day of the race, everyone was up early and ready to hit the slopes for charity.

There were several events in different age groups, for both skiing and snowboarding.

Even the band was outside. In their shorts, no less!

Here, Oskar Andesner, the Commercial Counsellor at the Austrian Embassy and the man behind this great charity event, has just crossed the finish line.

Across these several events, race winners included folks from Austria, China, Germany, the USA, Denmark, and others.

Everyone gathered for a group photo when the race ended that afternoon, and many headed back up the slopes for more skiing!

That evening, the charity dinner, auction, and raffle took place. Many demonstrated their national pride by attending dinner in their Austrian national costumes.

Race winners were announced, and speeches were given by sponsors, locals from the Hebei area, and race organizers. The event was an amazing amalgamation of Austrian and Chinese business cooperation, local community building, networking, and of course charity work.

Here, Mr. Andesner receives recognition for the hard work that went into putting together the Ski Race for the past five years!

This was followed by dinner, as well as the charity auction and raffle.

Raffle prizes even included some winter-inspired art by Little Flower kids. There were a few very-much coveted penguin paintings that went fast!

We are so grateful to the wonderful people at the Austrian Embassy for not only putting so much hard work into creating a wonderful event for all participants, but also for making such an impact in helping to spread the word and raise money for Little Flower children. As our capacity grows and we take in more children each year, this international and local support from the Beijing community is crucial to the continued running of Little Flower's projects. With events and partnerships like this one with the Austrians, we can continue to save lives and let more people know about Little Flower's goals of providing medical care, education, foster care, and long-term care to abandoned children in China.

We were ecstatic to have participated in the race this year. A huge thank you goes out from us to everyone involved at the Austrian Embassy!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Lantern Festival

Every year, the Lunar New Year celebration comes to a festive end with the Chinese Lantern Festival. During this holiday, people hang paper lanterns and eat "yuanxiao" or sticky rice balls filled with sweet sesame paste, red bean, peanuts, or even chocolate! The round shape of these treats symbolizes togetherness and prosperity for the new year. Our school kids celebrated the Lantern Festival last week, and they didn't skip any of the traditions!

To begin the festivities, the teachers hung paper lanterns around the classroom.

Then the students tried their hands at making their very own paper lanterns. They got creative with a variety of colors and patterns.

Here's Qiang with his creations:

But then, the real fun started: the rice balls! Any time our kids get to cook or bake, there's a palpable sense of excitement in the air! First, a demonstration:

Everyone at each table got a bowl of dough and filling...

And soon it was time to start!

Hui tries out a rolling pin method.

It can be a bit of a messy task, with all that flour everywhere, but Shan tries to be careful with it!

Pretty soon, everyone's got the hang of it. Jie's a very efficient rice ball maker.

And Zhong looks like he's having a fabulous time!

Pretty soon, everyone's got a few rice balls to cook up!

Happy Lantern Festival!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Moving Means Progress!

In our Infant Care Home, moving means progress! We have several rooms across two floors, and each room is a sort of "unit" that indicates the condition of the babies who live there. Often, as the babies grow a bit stronger or older, they'll make the transition from one room to another. Let's show you how it works.

We’ll take you upstairs first. Upstairs, we have two preemie rooms specifically for...you guessed it, preemies! The doors are always kept shut to these rooms, to keep the babies' environment as sealed as possible. No visitors allowed! This helps us prevent these fragile little ones from getting sick. But these rooms do have big windows, so you can see what's going on inside. We also have special rooms for heart babies, which have a similar no visitors rule.

After some of our preemies grow a bit bigger, and once fragile babies' conditions have stabilized, they will often move on to Baby Room 4. This is a much bigger, open room, where a lot of happy playing, time spent with nannies, and of course, more growing happens. Here, the babies can meet new friends and begin to interact with other babies.

Back downstairs is where our older babies and toddlers live. They sleep in the Toddler Room, and have meals in the kitchen. The best part is, the have the playroom, slide, and a different collection of toys to play with every day of the week. There's also music time, TV time, and playtime with all of the nannies and other toddlers.

As always, there's been quite a bit of change in the past couple months. A couple of toddlers have moved on to join foster families, some left us to await their forever families, and many babies upstairs have made progress.

Mei, Kang, and Fei have graduated to Baby Room 4.

And these two, both named Yang, have moved from Baby Room 4 upstairs to the downstairs area with the other toddlers. Look how they've changed since their arrival!

For those of you who have not been to visit our baby home, we hope you enjoyed this "virtual" tour.

Three cheers for movement! Three cheers for progress!