Touching Story Behind a Christian Nursing Home in Shandong

 Zhaoma Gospel Nursing Home, which was founded in 2009 and serves 122 elderly people.
Zhaoma Gospel Nursing Home, which was founded in 2009 and serves 122 elderly people.
By Grace ZhiJune 20th, 2017

Founded in 2009, Zhaoma Gospel Nursing Home is located in the south of Zhaoma Village, Xingfu Town, Baoxing County, Binzhou, Shandong with the village church near it. Founded by the church, the rural nursing home covers 16 mu or 2.64 acres with a construction area of 6,600 m2 or 1.63 acres. It has 95 rooms with all essential facilities like offices, a conference room, a health service room, a kitchen, and a canteen. 


The village's church near Zhaoma Gospel Nursing Home
The village church near Zhaoma Gospel Nursing Home

The dormitory is divided by gender: women live in the west wing and men the east wing. Between the two sections is a recreation room with a ping pong table. A bookshelf of hymnals and Bibles are placed in the room's corner.  After three o'clock in the afternoon, some elders and nurses gather voluntarily in the place and sing hymns and pray together. When it is hot, the meeting is held outdoors. 

Some seniors and nurses sing hymns and praise together
Some seniors and nurses sing hymns and praise together

Elder Hao, who heads the church in Zhaoma Village, is also the president of the nursing home. He used to run a kitchen utensils factory. At that time, many villagers owned factories that processed kitchenware, contributing to the rapid economic development. In 2005, the per-capita net income of the farmers reached 6,000 yuan. The younger generation was busy with their businesses while the older one felt more lonely. Seeing the need to care for the elderly, Hao and some church workers planned to build a senior citizens' home. Hao passed the factory to his daughter, then he and the workers went to investigate and study some church nursing homes in Shandong.

"I intended to build it into a first-class nursing home, regardless of hardware or software. " Says Hao. The ground-breaking ceremony took place on Oct. 14, 2005. He recalled that the church didn't have a penny that day because it had donated tens of thousand of yuan to a brother church for its new church construction. He himself spent two hundred and fifty yuan to buy a cornerstone tablet. "I felt really grateful for the result. We received a total donation of 140,000 yuan that day." Three days later, the construction started.

Though the home was registered in his personal name, a lot of local believers put in a lot to support it. Before the 2017 Chinese New Year, a villager gave twenty bags of white flour freely to the home and there is still a surplus; Hao's daughter's factory has paid the church's electricity bill for several years... More than 10 million yuan has been put into the construction, two expansions, and decorating. Some of the funds came from donations from many believers.

A report by the Binzhou Senior Affairs Commission claimed that the seniors' home was built by Christian villagers who are active in charity. "Committed to 'loving and benefiting people,' it was led by a church leader and receives regular donations from members. They make concerted efforts to construct a charitable service organization that gives back to society."

The home serves 122 elderly people, who are grouped according to their needs. Some can take care of themselves, some require half-care service, and the rest full-time care. The initial cost per month ranged from 300 to 600 yuan. As the market developed, the fee has been adjusted to from 800 to 1,400 yuan. It just broke even last year. All the nurses are Christians who are cautious to prevent injury to the seniors.

 Inside the home: a male nurse assists an elderly man to work out with the help of a senior walking aid
A male nurse assists an elderly man work out with the help of a walker

Hao shared some funny stories about the seniors with CCD. One day, a senior said that he lost 40,000 yuan. The president called on all the elderly people to look for the money. It was found at last. It turned out that the senior remembered the wrong place where he put it. Another time, a retired cadre lost a wallet during the Spring Festival holiday of 2009 but didn't say anything about it. He happened to find it after the holiday. In addition to those, the home washes their clothes and once an elderly person forgot to take out the money in his trouser pocket... "Everything happened, but there was no accident." Hao stated. 

Outside the home, there are fitness equipment and a vegetable garden where elderly people can exercize and enjoy farming. Fresh vegetables are also available. Chickens, pigeons, and pigs are raised as well. 

A vegetable garden in the home.
A vegetable garden in the home.

"The nursing home has a broad prospect." Added Hao. His next step will be to introduce more advanced equipment. For example, so the staff can watch what the elderly do through a monitor in the office to handle emergencies in time.  

Translated by Karen Luo

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