A Special Day

Last weekend a friend from Bring Me Hope (the summer camp organisation), Effie the Chinese director, took a child from a private orphanage in Henan Province to Beijing for medical treatment. The girl was 14 and has butterfly disease or Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) which causes the skin to break and develop blisters from minimal contact. It's a vary rare disease and there isn't really a cure, so her skin had some big scabs and blisters. Effie took her to BJ to see a hospital to try get some treatment. They got some cream and learned how to wrap her skin to protect it some... but no cure. However, despite all of this, and what you might imagine would leave a girl feeling down, she was one of the most joyful people I have met. One of the first questions she asked me was if I love Jesus. Unfortunately she was stared at, a lot... And she is old enough to realise when people treat her differently...  




We took her to a few different places around Beijing. This was her first time to travel anywhere, especially to Beijing so everything was new! We started at Forbidden City, then walked over to WangFuJing street for lunch. We had pasta and pizza, her first taste of western food, Finally, we took her to a big lake area where we went on boat rides which she loved! It was truly an amazing day!! 





On Sunday she wanted to go to church before she left Beijing so Effie and I stayed with her in the youth section. It was Father's day and they were each given a postcard to write a message to God. Hers was this... 'Dear Father, please heal me'..... Friends, I wonder what our dreams were when we were 14. I'm sure it was likely to have this or that, or to go here or there... This girl has so much hope. I have so much hope. Could you join me in praying for her?



Hair Cut Adventure

Getting a hair cut in China is a fun adventure (and so cheap here in the village too!). Ciara (my sister) and I decided to go get our hair cut one lunch time this week - and had an interesting experience! I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted but I decided to go crazy as I'm away and it can always grow back. Let me first state they cost 15¥ (€2) each. 

Ciara went first. Hair washed in a very uncomfortable chair, then he got to work. See below:





Then it was my turn. I decided to go with a mohog and tried to explain this to the man. Unfortunately it didn't translate well through my broken Chinese and what he did first was not what I asked so he finally understood and I got a new hair style. Not exactly what I had in mind but i embraced it! 





Then, after a lot of gel and hair spray, I had my new hair cut. A bit different right! It was so fun seeing everyone's reactions that afternoon as they jumped back in surprise. This was definitely a China moment!







My Life Here

Wanted to share a bit about my life here for the summer. There's some photo's of the beautiful campus and my room. Monday to Friday we get up early to have breakfast before prayer meeting at 8am. We then start work at 8:30. Lunch is at 12 and then we work again from about 1-5pm, though the kids nap from 1-3pm so no volunteers go in at that time, unless they are tutoring the staff in English. I spend my days either helping in the office or in the foster home helping the staff and other volunteers. I often go in to make sure the other volunteers know where they should be and what they should be doing. In the office I'm either helping with planning or social media. Every Monday there are different seminars open for people to join and learn. Topics range from sign language, special needs and disabilities, and orphan care in China and adoption. I will be helping deliver the last two on orphan care in China and adoption from China - this will be a great opportunity to further develop my presentation skills. Saturdays are free and we often do some sort of sightseeing into the city, though some weeks I will just rest and spend some time with the long term volunteers here. Sundays we mostly go into the city for the International Church.

That's a quick glimpse into my life here, it's going great - of course there are some frustrations but overall I'm having a great time and learning lots. Now enjoy some photos:

The Campus 

On the left is the dining hall, on the right is the offices downstairs and the volunteer dorms are upstairs. The foster home and backyard are behind the building on the right. 

Dining Hall where we can eat breakfast and lunch. 


The Office

One side of the office! 
My desk in the office for the summer (beside the Education and Volunteer Manager)

My Room

I'm sharing with 2 other guys. We have a small kitchen area and a bathroom. It's quite a decent sized room!

Bathroom on the left, kitchen on the right.  
My bed is the bottom bunk.  
Our kitchen area! 





Two weeks in

I've now been here for two weeks, it has flown by, yet it feels like I've been here forever! 

What have I been doing so far?
Well each day is a bit different. The first week involved a lot of planning and helping assign jobs for the different summer staff, some of which had changed since they were originally invited to come. We then worked on training everyone into their roles and getting everyone set up. A few highlights:

Last Tuesday morning we had a big ceremony for a company that has sponsored all the diapers/nappies, tissues and wipes that New Day has used for 11 years. This has saved ND SO much money which can then be spent on higher staff ratios and surgery costs. My main role for the morning was assisting Kevin who was coordinating it all, so setting up projectors and screens for slideshows, having the gifts ready and making sure all the volunteers knew what they were to do. After two short speeches and a performance from the preschool kids, and 3 of the summer staff singing a song, we had different activities in the backyard for the kids. There was a large bouncy castle slide which everyone loved! Especially the nannies! As all the kids came, including those living with foster families locally, so I got to see baby Natalie again, the girl I named last year! See this link for a photo! 

On Sunday we went into the International Church and got to meet a friend who I met two years ago through the China orphan community! 


Today (Tuesday) we took 10 of the kids on a field-trip to a large play centre in a big hotel in the city. They kindly hosted us for free and gave us a great lunch too. It was so much fun! 10 kids, 8 volunteers and 5 Chinese staff came along. They had large slides, padding everywhere and netted enclosures. The kids had a LOT of fun. We each had one kid as a buddy for the morning and helped them play and made sure they were ok. I was with this boy (see link) and we had a lot of fun - he was fearless going down the big slides! There should be a blog post on the New Day blog soon with lots of photos. I'll post a link when that's there. 

I've also been able to help a bit with one boy who has a medical condition that has delayed his development. As he is getting the right medical treatment he can now start to catch up. So I've helped Ciara my sister do his physical therapy, and also taken him outside to the beautiful backyard which he loves! 

What will I be doing going forward?
The woman in charge of the social media has to go away for a week or two, and I have been asked to take over while she is away. So I will be running the New Day Facebook page and the New Day Blog while she is away. I have run the Instagram page for the past year which has been a lot of fun sharing stories and photos every day, but this will be a big step up. New Day has over 12,000 Facebook followers and many who daily follow the blog too. This will be an awesome opportunity!! 

Can't share photos of the kids, so if you're not on my email update list, contact me to get on that! Thanks :D

First few days

Wednesday was my first day here in China, which I blogged about already. Was a long but great day catching up with everyone here!

On Thursday we headed into the city to teach the new summer staff how to get in by public transport. (Summer Staff is the program I am doing this summer at New Day. Summer staff are either here for one or two months). It involves taking a 40 minute bus ride to the nearest subway station and then up to one hour on the subway into the city. It's farily easy going out, but coming home is the difficult part figuring out where to get off the bus. We first went to the Pearl Market, a 5 floor market with different items on each floor (electrinics, clothes and bags, pearls...). We had some fun bartering for things, trying to get a good price. We got some dumplings (jiaozi) for lunch and then moved on to WangFuJing street, which I guess is like the Grafton Street or the 5th Avenue of Beijing. We walked along there and walked through some street markets close by, including the 'snack' section full of scorpions and insects (yum?). It was a fun day getting to know some of the other summer staff a bit better. We got back in time for dinner.


Friday was full of orientation and planning. At 8am we have prayer meeting and after that we had orientation all morning. Firstly we had a general introduction to New Day and the summer staff program. We talked about what ND does and also what we will be doing this summer and what is expected of us and how we can make the most of the experience. The others had an 'introduction to Chinese' lesson, which will be followed by 1hr of Chinese class everyday for the next two weeks. I didn't need to do this so I helped with some other things in the Foster Home. After lunch we had foster home orientation, going over the history of the foster home, some of the incredible stories of what has happened in the lives of some of the children and also going through the rules. The rules are there for very good reasons, such as washing hands to prevent infection spreading and staying in assigned areas to not spread germs and to make sure no one area gets too crowded - after all we are in the children's homes. After that I sat down with the volunteer coordinator to plan out summer staff roles for June. We had to juggle people's skills and preferences to have a balanced team. It was fun doing that and feeling trusted, but took some time!


Saturday was our day off which involved a bit of sleeping in (till 9:30am, so not too much!) and chilling about. Got to chat to some of the other summer staff a bit, have lunch with one of the Chinese staff and help two of them buy a new bike to use while they are here! It's fun helping translate for people, even with my basic Chinese. In the evening we all watched a movie.


On Sunday we went into the city to the international church and then out to lunch. We had to rent a big bus to take us all (summer staff and long term staff and their children). We got up early and went to the 9am service, leaving New Day at 7:15am. This morning was actually a bilingual service which was cool as half the songs were sung in Chinese and half in English. After we went for lunch and had a few different options. 5 of us went to Kro's Nest and had some great pizza! We even had some leftovers. We also stopped by the imported store and I bought some pasta and pesto for those days I can't eat any more rice or noodles!

The real work starts on Monday and we are all looking forward to getting to spend more time with the kids and experience more of New Day! That's all for now, it's been great having a few days to get used to the time difference again and not be too busy. I am very excited for what is to come this summer!