Yesterday morning I got into Lin's car expecting to head to the Haining orphanage an hour away. Our plan was to deliver the funds for the 2 air conditioners that chrch had purchased for this lesser-funded orphanage.
I hopped into her car at the butt-crack of dawn and started rambling on in Chin.ese. Me: "Weee, I can't wait to see the Haining orphanage! I wonder how many babies are there!"
Lin: "Oh, we're not going to Haining. We're going to Huzhou."
Me: "Um, what? Why?"
Lin: "Haining won't let foreigners in so we gave the money to Huzhou."
My heart sank into my belly.
The Huzhou orphanage is freakin rich. They just built 3 new buildings to care for the elderly. they have tv's, a karaoke room, and plenty of local help in the form of foster care and teachers.
Our money should not have gone to Huzhou. It should have gone to Haining. But because the government does not want foreigners to see the "less-nice" places, we had to suck it up and see our donation sucked into an orphanage that is fully-funded by the Commies.
The last time I was at the Huzhou orphanage was in October, 2008. Yesterday when I hopped out of Lin's care the orphanage director remembered me and shouted out my name, "Xiao Mei!"
We toured the new facilities and got to see some babies for like 2 seconds. But no pictures were allowed because apparently if it's not recorded, then I can't tell you about orphans in Chi.na and they can pretend they don't exist. But while we were not allowed to take any pictures, a man followed our every step taking pictures of us.
I tried not to have a break down when the 50 something year old nanny used her pinky nail to dig boogers out of a babies nose and kept flicking them on the floor. She then held my hand as we left. That my friends, is how you get Tuberculosis. Trust me on that one.
We went to see the air conditioner and 3 washing machines they purchased. They had stored them in their karaoke room. I wanted to barf.
Why does an orphanage need a karaoke room, complete with strobe lights and a sound system? While the babies are tied with strings to their cribs and get 0 medical care because they are almost all mentally handicapped in some form. And mentally handicapped here = trash. (yesterday we saw 2 downs babies and a cerebral palsy baby. It was really sad because the CP baby for sure could be rehabilitated, but instead will just rot in its crib for life).
My heart broke as it usually does for the babies but there was another layer in this trip. A bureaucratic layer. Because we are foreigners we had to give our money to an orphanage that doesn't need our stuff - they need education in how to rehabilitate and care for children. It's missplaced giving. Chi.na is so paranoid and prideful that it hides its problems from the world. You see the Beijing Olympics on tv and shiny pictures of Shanghai in magazines...I see Chi.nese leaders smiling to my face while telling me I can't go to the other orphanage because I am white.
I left with this feeling of helplessness. Chi.na can't help itself. It knows nothing but economic charts. But it won't accept help either. Not any help that makes a difference - education or materials in the poorest areas. The individual is not valuable in a country of 1.3 bil and as I hold the tiny fingers of orphans I feel so small.
I have so many resources - and so much good has come from these sources in the 3 years I have lived here. But yet I have this deep feeling that so muchmore could happen. Websites could be made, foreign donations accepted, children's medical care sponsored...but the system does not allow this because my last name is not Wang or Wu or Chen.
So I must visit babies. And give where I don't think is necessary and then tell myself who am I to judge. And then cry a little for the burden and desparity of it all. Good thing my mom is a good listener and calls me every day.
Here's some pics, of course no pics of babies because Ch.ina doesn't want you to know they exist. Uncless of course you want to buy one for 20 Grand, and then they'd love to have a chat.
Our group in front of the donated air con and washing machines (in boxes):
"A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us."
— Henri J.M. Nouwen
The trip was happy. We enjoyed each other's company. We deepened a friendship with an orphanage's leaders and I was invited back in the fall so there will be more chances to communicate and share. Good was done, but it wasn't the kind of good we had hoped for - we weren't really caring for any needs. But that's how this kind of work goes, huh? Nothing is expected, nothing is logical. My concluding thought on the whole situation is that we must plough on.
We must plough on.
And I will make it to Haining with a donation before I leave Chi.na. Hold me to it.
walk slow. xoxo.