Jun 18, 2011

no foreigners allowed.

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):

The main building of the orphanage:

the two ladies who recieved us, giving us framed drawing by the kids:

the usual "after orphanage visit" relationship-building lunch:

"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.


mom2three said...

Thanks for your article. My daughter was adopted from Huzhou SWI in 1999. She's 13 now. She's perfect in every way. She's a dancer and had she stayed in China I don't think she would have had much of a life. I never got to go to Huzhou to see where she was born or where she spent her first 14 months, so thanks for the pictures. She had foster care parents I beleive. We have photos of them when they brought her to Hangzhou to us. I understand your frustration about not being able to help where help is really needed. Stay strong.

Ke Xiao Mei said...

Wow! This is a wonderful note to recieve! I could send you more pictures of Huzhou if you woud like. The foster care system there (and in all of Zhejiang Province) is the best in China, so she must have been cared for very well before she met her family! It is true though that if these babies are not adopted, the future is rather bleak. It's wonderful that she is a dancer and being raised by a good family. That makes my heart happy to hear of a baby that "got out." It's hard to just see this side of things all the time and is good to be reminded that there are little miracle stories all around. So you went through Hangzhou for the adoption? It's a popular place for that, I have seen families who have just recieved their child in groups around town. Thanks for the well-wishes! :)

Ke Xiao Mei said...

also, the lady on the right in the picture of the two Chinese women in black shirts has been working at the Huzhou orphanage for 20 years, so she probably knew your daughter! Small world.

low208@optusnet.com.au said...

Thanks for this info. We adopted our son from Huzhou SWI 2 years ago.I would so love some photos and info about the orphanage. It is very hard to find and get especially about the children and their condition. We have been wondering if the SWI needed anything or if we could help in any way. Janine

Inger said...


Anonymous said...

I was trying to find information abaout this orphanage. We adopted our son from this WI for å year ago. Wonder if i recognizes
the Director at one of your picher? Do you have more information and picture ore do you have other link with info abaout this prphanange ? Is it ok to take direckt contac witht you/the WI ?