Bethel’s vision is to see ‘Independent, visually impaired orphans living a fulfilling life as equal members of society.’ In order to do this, blind children must be given an education and life-skills training that will help them to develop the skills to become as independent as possible.
In 2011, Bethel began to partner with the Beijing School for the Blind, and nine Bethel children between the ages of 8 and 12 moved into two apartments next to the school. Each child is high functioning and very clever.
They live in small groups with two assistant teachers. The children in the Beijing City Life Project are learning to look after themselves as independently as possible. They go to school, do their homework, help around the house, and try to earn pocket money, and their ayis help to look after them by teaching them as many independent skills as possible.
The students have all adapted well to the school, and they are able to attend classes with other blind students in Beijing. They also are developing a better understanding of the ‘outside world.’ However, being integrated into society also has brought up more questions that the children have about their lives, visual impairment and orphaning. Bethel has a counselor who invests time with the children and who helps and encourages them.
Since the spring of 2011, Bethel has seen these children thrive and grow. One student has received a scholarship from the school for his excellent work, and the money is going towards extra music lessons for him.
Bethel is very excited about this project. It is so important for high-functioning visually-impaired children to be given as many opportunities as possible to develop skills that will allow them to be as independent as possible as they grow up.