Originally written on September 17, 2016 in China
Some of our older Eaglets have been with us for many years - our eldest boy HongWei has moved to Xi'an this year to attend university; KaiKai is our next eldest and he is in his final year of senior school this year. He attends a local public school and works hard on his school work. Our next eldest boys, BeiBei and JinQiu are too old to attend our COAT school now. They began their schooling late but have had a number of years completing a few levels of primary school education. After a successful Vocational Training Program as a part time alternative to their final years of school, the boys are now working in different roles within MengLin. BeiBei works in the office on the computer completing some administrative tasks. JinQiu has a water delivery contract and also works as a teacher aide in our school. I have known these boys for 7 years and have watched them grow up into responsible young men aged between 17 and 20 years. When I met with the director of the orphanage during this visit, he proudly showed me photographs of HongWei in front of the university. The director drove him there himself. These boys are loving older brothers (ge ge) to the younger children and they all make us very proud.
Our older girls make us proud too -I have also known these girls since 2009. JingJing and XiaoXiao now run a street stall near the bus stop but we are in the process of renovating a three story shop in the nearby market place for the girls to have a more permanent shop. The new shop will mean they can work regardless of weather conditions. They are both in wheelchairs but their minds are good and they work well together. XiaoXiao loves to read and do the book work. JingJing loves to talk, talk, talk ... Our third successful grant application with the Australian Embassy in BeiJing has funded a significant part of the shop project, including furniture, freezers, fridges and also helped with the rent for the shop and the modifications required. We hope that eventually BeiBei and JinQiu will move into the top floor and live there independently. JingJing is already 18 and it is likely that she move to the 'old' orphanage when the foster contracts are renewed in October. XiaoXiao will also move when she turns 18. We are hopeful that they will be able to come to work in the market place each day and continue to be supported by our EW staff. MiaoMiao will also move to the 'old' orphanage in October. She has been assisting us a little in our homes with our more multiply impaired children. XiaLi now works for us as a teacher aide in the school. She is great with the littlies and doesn't let the fact that she only has the use of one arm impede her work in any way. In October, she will begin a work contract with the orphanage but continue to work in our school as a teacher aide.
JinLong is another of our older Eaglets that has already turned 18 and will move to the 'old' orphanage when the new contracts begin in October. He has come a long way since I met him. He is still totally dependent on those around him but he is now able to interact with his caregivers and move around with limited support.
Not all of our Eaglets will grow up to live independent lives, but we are proud of them all regardless. They may fly the nest of our Eagles Wings Homes but they will always be Eaglets and always always be loved.