I am excited to let you know that I will once again be traveling to China this summer.. I never planned in my life to go once, and yet here I am setting up for my 5th trip in 11 years. I traveled to China in 2008 with my husband and son to adopt our Sophie, and then before we knew it, we were adopting Shane, then Maeleigh, then Vincent. I was honored last year to travel back, (with no extra passenger on the ride home!!!) to conduct a CVI training for Perkins International, through Perkins School for the Blind.
This summer I will be a part of a Forum that is hosted by Bethel China, an orphanage for the Blind that was started in 2003 by Guillaume and Delphine Gauvain as a foster home for blind children. Bethel conducts an educational outreach program each year for families who have kept their blind and visually impaired children, which is amazing in China, as well as for teachers, orphanage workers and medical professionals. Bethel has been near to my heart for more than a decade as we began the adoption process, and we sponsor Bethel children annually. We are currently sponsoring a beautiful little girl name Alice, who I was privileged to name after a dear friend, Alice Guarino, died of cancer. Little Alice had Retinoblastoma, the same diagnosis as our Vincent, and we are supporting her as she waits for her family to find her.
You can read about Bethel China here ( https://www.bethelchina.org/)
Bethel educates many blind children from all over China, and they have volunteers from around the world who come and dedicate their time and talent to teaching these little ones. They rely on sponsors and benefactors to continue to do their work, and are often in desperate need of supplies for the kids. Those of us who are work with children with special needs, and especially those with complex needs, know that the right materials can help to facilitate learning. In the case of children with Cortical Visual Impairment, the right materials and intentional interventions can facilitate improvements in functional vision.
As I prepare for my trip, I want to take much-needed supplies and materials that they cannot get in China. You are probably saying “But it’s China! Everything is made in China!” While this is true, China exports materials, and very few of the things we are used to getting at a store or ordering on Amazon are able to be purchased in China.
I have set up a wish list for anyone who is interested in purchasing toys and much-needed sensory and therapy materials. You can find the wish list here:
There are a number of inexpensive items, and others that are a bit more. Anything you feel you can help with would be greatly appreciated. I am asking for a number of items that are sensory-based as the children in an orphanage, especially those who are visually impaired, seek significant sensory input. Parents can understand how difficult it is to meet the needs of one child with complex needs, so imagine how it is in an orphanage with multiple children and limited caregivers. Giving the Ayis (Nannies) instruction on how to best use these sensory toys and devices could make the world of difference in the lives of these children.
Bethel is in desperate need of white canes, so if you have one your child has outgrown, or if you are a provider and have access to canes that are not too well used, please consider sending them to me. The cane sizes that are needed are:
: 9 of 60cm length, 10 of 130cm length, 8 of 40cm length, of 150cm length,
Thanks for your help and support. Feel free to message me if you have items to donate, or would like more information of how to support the children at Bethel. I will update the wish list as more ideas are added. Thanks!