"They need to go to school, be loved and given a home!" claimed Moses Feng, the president of the Zhao County Orphanage of Hebei.
In 2001, Feng, chairman and president of the county's CCC&TSPM, spearheaded the establishment of the orphanage. It has transformed the lives of more than 150 orphans and abandoned babies. Founded by the county's CCC&TSPM, the orphanage, also called "Home of Hope Christian Orphanage," is a registered NGO by permission of local authority.
The children have grown up -- some have been married, some work in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, some admitted to universities or vocational colleges and some return "home" to care for their younger "brothers and sisters."
Founding the orphanage with the heart of being light and salt
President Feng shared that he was dedicated to God by his mother upon his birth. He followed his mother to the church, accepting the values from his mother's generation that Christians should be light and salt in society. When he was young, his home was a gathering place for followers. Despite experiencing poverty, his mother often received others. To his surprise, his family lacked nothing. Influenced by his mother, he often helped the poor as a teenager as he grew up.
When he grew up, he became a successful businessman in the printing and freight transportation industries. From 1992, he started to do voluntary work in the church of Zhao County. When he delivered sermons in the countryside, he frequently brought schoolbags and clothes to the orphans there. Knowing that sending gifts couldn't meet the needs of the children who needed homes and schools more than these items, he gave up his printing work and served in the church full-time in 1999.
Two years later, the orphanage was set up.
Difficulties and challenges in the early days
Recalling the early days of the orphanage's establishment, Feng said that at that time, he felt happy, eating mooncakes and laughing with more than ten children. He cried with them when they were sharing the sad times of their own lives. They called him "Dad."
However, jealousy began among the children due to his lack of experience. With the increase in the number of the children, he was confronted with a greater challenge.
First of all, they couldn't attend the schools in the county for many of them came from the rural areas. Later on, the problem was solved with the help of the local government. Secondly, some dropouts couldn't keep up with the courses at school and their poor school performances brought pressure to the teachers. As a result, the orphanage had to find ways to tutor them.
The home also experienced the toughest two or three years of its establishment since the end of 2005. Feng stated, "We went through those years with tears."
The home used to adopt only poor orphans. However, on November 28, 2005, the arrival of an abandoned baby opened its doors to take in abandoned children. The prematurely born infant suffering from cleft lip and palate was left in the freezing winds for a whole night. Sent to the home, she lost her voice while crying. Considering that she couldn't drink milk from a bottle due to her disease, a volunteer elderly women had to feed her liquid food with a spoon. The home named her "Enhui" or "Grace."
Since then, the orphanage has adopted more than 40 abandoned children.
Their arrival led to an increase in economic pressure for the home. Generally, the abandoned ones have congenital disorders, some of which are serious, including cleft lip and palate, cerebral palsy, complex heart diseases, spinal diseases and congenital imperforate anus. The majority of them needed checkups, some hospital care and surgeries, and some even emergency treatment. It took tens of thousands of yuan to rescue a child at times.
In the hardest moments, the orphanage received help from the Hebei CCC&TSPM and the church in Shijiazhuang and Baoding and was able to get through the difficulty of their situation.
The children has their new "home"
During the first ten decades of the home, the orphanage was running in a house belonging to a local church. On June 26, 2014, it was moved into a new "home" that has a two-story building and a three-story building. The total construction area reaches 3800 m2.The new home has dormitories, classrooms, a library, activity rooms, a kitchen and a rescue center for abandoned babies.
What is the home in the eyes of the children? Their compositions on the classrooms' wall speak out their voices: "Home is warm and beautiful. My home is a very large family, and I'm a happy child in the family."
"To be honest, I didn't have a decent home from eight to ten until I was sent by my family and friends to the orphanage -- Home of Hope Christian Orphanage at the age of 11."
"Although we're different, we're like family... I'm grateful for everything here. I suffered a lot of pain in the countryside, but now I'm happy and love this big family."
Ma Lujun, one of the first children raised in the home, is the first graduate here. After graduation from Hebei Normal University in 2013, she gave up her internship in Shanghai and went back "home." She, who lived in a poor countryside since her childhood, confessed that she struggled to make the decision for it was her dream to live in a big city. Currently, Ma has worked in the home for more than three years, claiming that it's impossible to insist on the job without love.
Her moving story was reported by several provincial media outfits and she was awarded as one of the ten figures who touched the province in 2014.
Similar to her, Feng Xue, married and who has a child, abandoned her job in Beijing IBM company and Liu Shichang, who used to work in a farm of Niaoning, have come back to care for their younger family members. Other grown-ups who have already jobs bring gifts to the children when they return home in the Spring Festival.
Widely recognized by the church and society
"Everyone approves good things," says President Feng.
The orphanage has been widely recognized by the church and society. In September 2010, it was awarded as one of the fourteen Christian advanced collectives who contributed to economic and social development by CCC &TSPM. About two years later, it was honored as the provincial advanced corporation of religious charity by the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission of Hebei Province. In 2017, President Feng was ranked among the ten charity figures of Hebei.
Meanwhile, it has received financial assistance from the local government and social organizations including Nokia.
Hopes to help more children
Some people question why the orphanage keeps adopting children since the number of the children they care for increases. "Because the children need it," replied Feng.
He also states that the home which originally can only help extremely poor orphans has been forced to grow, owing to its limitations. It aims to help the orphans integrate into society. He adds that most of the grown children have found jobs after attending universities or vocational colleges.
President Feng also pays attention to another group -- dropouts at home ranging from 12 to 18 years old. They are from single-parent families or financially disadvantaged families. He hopes to offer training programs for them so that they can acquire professional skills to make a living.
Translated by Karen Luo