Today, as part of our Beyond Adoption series, we are highlighting OneSky for all children. OneSky, formerly Half the Sky Foundation, is a global NGO that over the last 18 years has trained more than 13,000 caregivers and impacted the lives of more than 130,000 of China’s most vulnerable children and its work is only just beginning…
Reaching forgotten children this holiday season
I’d like to share a note that our OneSky team received last month, from Li Kailing, a foster mother in our Family Village program:
Last Saturday, we took our 12-year-old foster daughter Ningning to a local circus performance. In the middle of the performance, the announcer walked onstage with a little girl. She introduced the girl and explained that this child had lost her parents and was being raised by her grandma who suffered from a serious disease. In order to help raise funds to send her to school, the grandma sent her to perform with the circus. The announcer asked for donations to help raise funds for this family.
As soon as she heard this, Ningning quickly stood up, took all her pocket change out, approximately 10 yuan, and put it in the donation box. I was surprised and took a picture.
When we got home later, I asked Ningning, “Dear, what made you want to donate to that little girl?” Her voice got quiet and she answered in a low whisper, “Because she is almost the same as me except that now, I have you and other people to help me.”
I was so moved by her words. I scooped her up into my arms and gave her a long hug.
Different types of orphans
This story touched us because when we first established our foundation in 1998, our goal seemed daunting but straightforward: to train caregivers in China to bring better nurturing care to orphans living in social welfare institutions. And we have succeeded. In 2011, we celebrated when China announced that it was making our model for care for orphaned children the national standard that would be implemented across the country.
But as China’s economy changed, we started to notice another problem, this one outside orphanage walls. A new type of ‘orphan’ was emerging. Young workers, desperate for work, were leaving their rural villages in search of employment and often leaving behind their small children in the care of aging and ailing relatives. Children like the young girl now working at the circus.
Our orphanage and village models
Just like Ningning, who knew instinctively that there was a simple way to help this young girl, we at OneSky also knew that we could help. We’ve learned over the years that the needs of vulnerable children are fundamentally the same — young children need loving family-like care from caregivers who understand how to foster their healthy development. They need access to quality preschool programs, and most of all, they need to know that they are loved.
So we asked ourselves… why not? Why not bring our programs to China’s economic orphans as well? And so this year, we started programs that provide responsive care in China’s rural villages so that left-behind children can receive the nurturing they need to thrive.
Just like in our orphanage programs, we are offering responsive care training to primary caregivers and establishing preschools with an innovative curriculum that focuses on the whole child. And we are also reinvigorating and strengthening these impoverished villages by creating projects such as the creation of a community garden. And it’s working.
But we can’t do it alone.
How you can help
This holiday season, we are asking for your help to reach as many children as possible, so we can continue to bring our programs wherever they are needed in China, to reach all vulnerable children.
By offering a child sponsorship as a gift, or by sponsoring a child in either an orphanage or village yourself, you will help us continue to train new caregivers in orphanages we haven’t reached yet, and also help ensure that our village programs can reach more of China’s estimated 23 million “economic orphans” aged 0-6.
We need your help. One child at a time. Because every child counts.
– guest post by Christine Marcotte from OneSky