Saturday, May 31, 2014

Many Thanks Again to the Austrian Embassy!

In February, the Austrian Embassy in Beijing organized and hosted their 5th annual Charity Ski Race. Special guests included the Vice Mayor of Olympic candidate Zhangjiakou Mr. Zhou Limin, Austrian Ambassador Dr. Irene Giner-Reichl and several colleagues from other European embassies, as well as high-ranking managers of Chinese ski resort developers and operators. The embassy had a record year, with over 550 participants, 118 racers from 14 countries, and nearly 600,000 RMB raised!

This year, Little Flower was lucky to have been their benefitting charity. Recently, they held a Garden Party and Handover Ceremony to celebrate the donation of all proceeds to Little Flower.

It was a great night, with Little Flower's founder, Brent Johnson, in attendance. The man behind the Austrian Charity Ski Race, Dr. Oskar Andesner, presented the donation.

He created the very first ski race event in 2010, and it has grown larger every single year. This year is actually his last year organizing the event, and we just wanted to express our appreciation for all the work that he and his team have put into the ski race each year. Three cheers for the Austrian Embassy!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Our Spring Charity Celebration a Success!

Last Saturday, Little Flower--with the help of some amazing people around the Beijing community, local and international sponsors, volunteers, and our staff--held its Spring Charity Celebration, with food, good company, and an auction and raffle featuring some pretty amazing prizes. It was a great way to work with the community, introduce Little Flower to new friends, give out fun prizes, and raise money in the process.
The masterminds behind the event were Jim Zimmerman, a great friend to Little Flower, and founder Brent Johnson. Jim did an amazing job of spearheading the effort to secure some extremely enticing auction and raffle items, including round trip tickets from Beijing to Hawaii, paradise vacations in Mexico, the Phillippines, and Mauritius, and autographed vintage movie posters.

When it came time for the event to come together, even more people pitched in. Little Flower staff helped to set up and work during the evening. Of course, in between all that work, there was also some time for group pictures.

Little Flower Group Homes Manager Ruth and our Curriculum Director Maria were our information table representatives, there to answer any questions that people might have about what we do.

Here was the raffle table. Everyone was excited to try their luck. With the grand prize being a pair of roundtrip tickets on Hawaiian Airlines from Beijing to Honolulu and a stay at the Outrigger can understand why!

We also had a bunch of silent auction items, including holidays in China and abroad, fine wines and cigars, autographed books by famous authors, antiques, and memorabilia. A huge thank you goes out to everyone who helped find these items, and the wonderful people who donated them. 

A free flow of wine, drinks, and snacks were served throughout the party.

And some of our older children from the Little Flower group homes gave short presentations about their experiences and time at Little Flower. Afterwards, they got to draw the raffle tickets and announce the lucky winners.

It was a great success, with about 140,000 raised. Though this is only a small fraction of our monthly budget, every bit counts, and 100% of all the money raised will go directly towards childcare. Thanks again to everyone who pitched in to run this great community event!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Venturing Outside the Baby Home

Spring...a time to escape the indoors after the long and grey winter; a time to leave the playroom behind to go in search of another exciting playtime venue; a time to put on a jacket (if needed!), and go outside! Wen leads us to the Baby Home's backyard to get some fresh air.

In early April, when the days were still a bit short, the blossoms on the trees called for some pictures with our sweet girls. Min was very excited to take a closer look at the beautiful blossoms, while Wan was rather skeptical, trying to find out what the fuss was all about. Hua seemed happy to be out and about with her friends and nannies.

After some weeks, the jackets could be left inside, and the toddlers were able to spend their afternoon play time outside. When the air is clear and the sky is blue, our staff brings them out.

Once outside, every child discovers his or her preferred activity pretty quickly. Yang loves the sandbox!

Wan likes to play with the outdoor toys, especially the ones that move (there's a red plastic car that she especially loves). Chen is into inspecting the grass and flowers. He even gave one to Kuan! Though Kuan was probably a bit confused. What is this Chen? he seemed to say.

Jie prefers to sit on the nice, cool grass.

Even when there's a mat right there next to her, the grass is her preferred spot.

Qiao also took advantage of the sand (definitely something she can’t play with inside!), while Yang, Wei and Hua love posing for the camera.

We love going outside with our toddlers! Almost as much as they do.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Record Number of Intakes

April was an extraordinarily wonderful and busy month for Little Flower. It was extraordinarily wonderful because we saw our projects expand and many of our children adopted. It was extraordinarily busy because we had a record number (49!) of intakes in just one month – more than three times as many in a normal month.

Intakes of new children to our Baby Homes, transfers to Group Homes, and adoptions always happen throughout the year. But in April, it was a kind of perfect storm, in which all of these factors came together and led to our current record capacity across all of our projects (we currently have 199 children across our Infant Care, Foster Care, and Long-Term Care projects in two locations).

The main trigger that led to April’s record intake number was the opening of 10 new Group Educational Foster Care homes in our second location in Shanxi Province, where we also have our our second Baby Home and our Long-Term-Care home. These new foster parents all started with 2 children in their families, which allowed us to place 20 children in these new homes. Being a big change not only for the children but also for the foster parents, it was best to give them the time they needed to adjust to their new environment. Steadily, we plan to enlarge these Group Homes until they reach a similar size as our Group Homes in Beijing (4-6 children per family).

Here are two of our new Group Homes in Shanxi Province. 

Zi, one of the youngest children living in one of our new Group Homes:

Sheng, one of the older children, working on his school work:

Some of the children we could place in our new Group Homes were transferred from our Infant Care Home. Moving children from the Baby Home to the Group Homes resulted in unoccupied spaces in the Little Flower Shanxi Baby Home.

Would free beds mean time to relax for our nannies and caregivers? Nope. One inquiry after another dropped in, and within no time, the Baby Home’s capacity reached its capacity once more. However, many of the new intakes in Shanxi happened to be very fragile babies who needed more advanced care and were therefore transferred to our Beijing Baby Home shortly after their arrival. 

Dian, Yao, Kuo and Li: 4 of our new intakes at the Baby Home.

Of course, transfers to Beijing meant more free spots in that second location and more intakes.

On top of all that, we had three of our foster children picked up this month to head off to their forever families in America. It was a bittersweet moment for their Little Flower foster parents, but we were so happy to see their adoptive parents finally able to see their boys after months of waiting. April was definitely a crazy month! By the end of the month we had 61 children at the Beijing Baby Home (our highest number up until then had been 59), and a total of 199 children in all our projects. We're so proud of all of the caregivers and staff that step up to care for all of these children 24 hours every day.