Li Ying came to Bethel when we opened our second house in Lang Fang. She arrived with her good friend from the same area and they were the first teenagers we received at Bethel. Li Ying was helpful and used to help with the younger children. Living at Bethel presented its challenges for Li Ying as the focus was placed on independent living. She had to learn to make her own bed, learn basic cooking skills, clean, etc. And the process, as for any teenager, was difficult, yet Li Ying moved along and learned her braille, participated in all classes and loved to sing. Traditionally in China, women with visual impairment are encouraged to just get married rather than plan a life of their own. What sometimes was perceived as being stubborn in fact played in her advantage since Li Ying could not be convinced to just settle for a husband, and she started to find jobs here and there. Finally she became the first VI barista in Beijing! We are so very proud of her.
Pan Pan came to Bethel in 2009, when he was 7 years old, speaking a dialect from western China. Before he came to Bethel, he had attended a local school for the blind, but the school kicked him out because his self-care skills were deemed not strong enough. While living at Bethel’s foster home in Beijing, Pan Pan attended our preschool where he learned life skills such as orientation and mobility skills and Braille. After graduating from our preschool, he entered Bethel’s “City Life” project. During the day, he attended Beijing’s school for the blind and in the evening he returned to our home to study life skills and we helped him develop other special interests. We taught him cello and erhu and participated in many school and public performances. Pan Pan has a special talent, when you tell him any date he can immediately tell you which day of the week it was!
While at Bethel, Pan Pan not only gained educational and self-care skills, his socials skills also improved a lot and he learned to love and trust the adults in his life. In 2016, just one month before his 14th birthday, Pan Pan was adopted by his forever family. We are so grateful to have been a part of his journey.
When Jia Min came to Bethel he was one and a half years old, but his body was very weak. He could not sit up on his own and could only eat a little food a time. The pediatrician determined his development was only that of a six month old. After many therapy sessions, he started to slowly build up strength in his muscles. At Bethel, we witnessed the first time he stood, walked and called out “mama”. Slowly he caught up to his peers, and at 3 and half years old he graduated from the baby classroom and entered the preschool. When he was 6 years old, he entered our “City Life” program and began attending the school for the blind in Beijing. In addition to attending school during the day, he learned to play piano and helped his nannies with the housework.
In 2016 he was adopted by his forever family and is continuing his studies in the United States.