Settled into ICC

I arrived in HY, Hunan Province over 5 weeks ago now. It really has gone by so quickly and I have settled in well and it feels like home already. In my first week I settled in, was shown around the ICC centre and introduced to lots of kids. At the end of my first day I was given a list of 45 children here who either are currently on the adoption list, or soon will be. Wow.

[warning: long post ahead!! and can't share photos of the kids online for privacy reasons so if you'd like to be added to my email newsletter get in touch]. 

What does ICC do here?
ICC has been working here for 10 years now and have seen a drastic change and improvement in the children's care. Last year the welfare centre (orphanage) built ICC a new big facility on the same grounds which allowed them to increase their overall capacity to 160 children. So many children given 'Love, Hope and Opportunity'  - ICC's slogan. There are 5 floors to the building here, in a U shape. On the left side are the childrens homes with 4 homes on each floor, seperated out into different ages and genders and there are 7-8 children in each home. Their model is for each child to live in a family style environment.

The incredible ICC facility built last year.
The other side of the building holds classroomes, therapy rooms, activity rooms, craft rooms, workshop rooms and offices. Each of the children here gets some sort of either education, therapy time, circle time, activities, life-skills classes etc. based on their ability, function and interest. There are very few organisations in China working to care for children with the level disabilities that ICC does. It's incredible to see the opportunities these children are given to live a more meaningful life. Of course the needs here are still endless and there is always more that needs to be done.

ICC also has two community group homes locally with 8 boys and 8 girls. These kids are able to be more independent and two even go to local public school, many of the others are educated by ICC teachers near their homes, and some of them who are older are employed by the ICC centre.

What am I doing here?
There are two main aspects to my role: direct work with the kids and more behind the scenes.

For working directly with the kids I am with the youth worker. I am splitting my time between the main centre and the community group homes.  There are so many boys here and almost all the caregivers are female, all the therapists are female, as are all the teachers. It's so important for boys to have male figures in their lives. I am helping with a woodwork type class at the centre for many of the older boys with intellectual disabilites that happens for 3 different groups on Wednesdays. I will be spending some time with some of the boys in the main welfare centre who don't get to go to classes and activities like the kids in ICC's care. At the community group homes (where I will be half of the work-week), some days we take a few of the kids to play badminton or do another activity, other days we bring a Wii to play with, sometimes we take them out to a local park by a river. We will soon be helping some of the kids who have finished education to set life goals and help them work towards that to give them an independent meaningful life into adulthood. I've been asked to teach geography classes by some of the kids who heart that's what I studied at university, so we will try and fit that in soon! 

The biggest thing I am doing behind the scenes is helping with adoption advocacy. What a privilidge it is to be able to help with this, we are hoping to see many more kids, especially the older boys matched with families. The way this works is I get to know the kids and gather info and photos and send them to our American based advocate who aims to connect families with the children who can use adoption agencies to pursue their adoptions. While most of the children and young people here, due to age or severity of disability will not have the chance to be adopted internationally, this is possible for many of the children and we will do all we can to make it possible for those who are able. I'm also helping with some other random projects for one of the directors and hope to soon be involved in social media and raising the profile of ICC's work through that platform.

Our ICC team at Walk the Wall Event.
I am so grateful for the support and prayers of so many people! Of course there are ups and downs here, amazing days and frustrating days, that is to be expected. The community here is beyond what I imagined and the friends I have made will last a lifetime. I still need some support so if you are interested in supporting me get in touch, I have a way for this to be done tax deductibly for my US friends too.