Bethel is home. Home to 70 visually impaired (VI) orphans. A safe and stimulating environment in which VI orphans of all ages and abilities can grow, laugh and experience a full, rich life.
“Bethel Love is Blind” is the banner under which Bethel runs all its foster care, education and therapy programs. Bethel Sites consist of five projects: the Doudian campus, the Beijing City Life project, the Zhengzhou orphanage, the Jiaozuo orphanage and the Nanjing orphanage projects. As of January 2015, all five care sites combined offer services for up to 70 children.
Early Intervention: Bethel Doudian
We take a holistic approach to foster care which goes much further than a house and a bed. At each one of Bethel sites, children live in small groups of six to eight children. Each group has their own home with their own set of activities and their own pictures on the fridge. By doing so, we stimulate a family atmosphere in which children can feel both unique and part of a group at the same time.
Each child has an Individual Education Plan (IEP), made at the start of every school year. Children come to Bethel at different ages, and require different areas of focus, including an emphasis on language skills, motor skills or emotional support. We run monthly training for our staff in speech, occupational and physical therapy.
A great importance is placed on providing a variety of exciting activities for all children, and introducing them to new opportunities. From a young age, children aged 0-7 receive early intervention through preschool and primary school experiences at our Doudian campus. They participate not only in school classes, but arts, music, sports and field trips.
“Bethel is a very special place. It is full of so much life and happiness. We can tell how very dearly our child was loved during her time there, and what special and personalized attention she was given. We will forever be thankful to Bethel and it will always have a very important place in our family’s hearts.”
-Shannon Hinkley, adoptive parent
The Bethel Sites are a model. We make our values tangible and our work accessible. Visitors leave Bethel with an understanding that blind children deserve to and are capable of leading equal, full lives.
Growing Up: The City Life Project
The most important long-term question to answer is: What will happen to these students once they grow up and are out of school?” The Beijing City Life project gives children aged seven and over the opportunity to live in a city environment that challenges and equips them for future independence. Together with Bethel caregivers, the children live in apartments in Beijing. During the week they attend the Beijing School for the blind with other VI children from the city.
Contact with the “outside world” is paramount if we want to have a successful integration of Bethel students into society. Life in the big city gives our children a real sense of pride, self confidence and joy.
Replicating Bethel: The Zhengzhou Orphanage
In looking for ways for Bethel to expand its coverage to impact more children with visual impairments, Bethel formed a partnership with the Zhengzhou Social Welfare Center in 2011. By partnering with existing welfare centers, Bethel is able to become a part of the cycle and create innovative solutions from the inside out. Replication of our foster care model in China is achievable if we follow a model where we take over rooms in existing orphan care facilities and train staff to Bethel’s standards.
Love is Blind in Zhengzhou is a full partnership with the orphanage. Bethel was given one classroom to launch the pilot project, which has now been expanded to include another classroom and two apartments, as the orphanage was able to witness a trial period and saw that Bethel’s model works. Over twenty children have come through this project, each making progress that was previously thought to be impossible due to their special needs.
“Seeing Bethel’s work at the Zhengzhou orphanage firsthand reinforced for us why supporting outreach work is so critical. The transformation that has taken place there is truly remarkable and can be seen from so many angles, from the shifted paradigms of the orphanage staff to the bright and hopeful faces of the children. We know that Bethel has created a model that has bear lasting returns on the philanthropic investments of the Legatum Foundation.”
The Jiaozuo Orphanage
The Jiaozuo Project is a partnership between Bethel and the Jiaozuo Social Welfare Institute. The orphanage has provided us with a classroom where ten visually impaired children come for school Monday-Friday. All of our Jiaozuo teachers have had extensive Bethel training at our site in Beijing. We are proud to offer these beautiful children an education!
The Jiaozuo Project is funded by AFAC – Asociación de Familias Adoptantes en China, and we are greatful for their support and partnership!
Being a part of it
Bethel is build on relationships. Personal links between us and our children, and between them and their sponsors. If you share our vision, there are numerous creative ways through which you can share, donate and advocate, and we would love you to help with that.