Bethel was founded in 2003 by Guillaume and Delphine Gauvain who saw gaps in the care of blind children throughout orphanages in China. By providing a safe, loving and stimulating environment, Bethel’s mission is to help VI (Visually Impaired) orphans of all ages grow, laugh and experience everything life has to offer.
Bethel opened its first foster home and school in 2003 with just 3 children. Over the last 15 years, we’ve had more than 138 adoptions and 328 orphans cared for and educated in our centers. We know that a family structure is essential to the healthy development of children, so we strive to create the family unit within our centers by pairing each child with a small group of nannies and teachers that act as their consistent caregivers. In this way, we can build a foundation of trust and continuously work to see our children flourish.
Hear from our founders about their original vision and their dreams for the future:
The current number of orphans in Bethel’s care has reached over 60, with 4 locations using Bethel’s successful model. Bethel’s education model emphasizes early intervention by teaching blind children how to orient themselves, utilize other senses and become more comfortable in their environment rather than becoming over-reliant on their caregivers so that they can reach their full potential and lead independent lives.
To also focus on preventative care, we share Bethel’s experiences and expertise across the country through the Bethel Outreach project. We train, equip and encourage caregivers of VI children, Bethel’s education team has designed high quality training materials and runs training workshops each year for parents and orphanage staff. We also provide scholarships to 10 children in families to attend our preschool in Beijing. This has made a huge difference in preserving families, by both providing resources as well as changing their outlook on how VI children truly can live a fulfilling life.
Bethel has been moving towards establishing educational centers in orphanages to provide more on-the-ground education and direct care. As a result, Bethel launched the Zhengzhou, Jiaozuo and Nanjing satellite projects that established centers in the orphanages, making Bethel’s highly-skilled teachers more accessible to VI children in these provinces. Since these projects have been successful, we will be opening a project in the Jing De Zhen CWI in Jiangxi Provence in 2019 and continue to build on this strong foundation by establishing more centers in orphanages.
In the spring of 2019 we moved to a much larger and central space in Beijing that will become our Family Preservation Center. We plan to provide more scholarships for blind and visually impaired children so they have a place to attend school. Since blind children are not able to attend public school in China, without Bethel our scholarship students would spend all day at home without an education and not receiving the skills they'd need to grow into independent adults. Bethel is instrumental in providing invaluable skills such as learning to use a cane or reading braille, resources which are not typically available to them. Such skills will both enrich their lives, and enable them to live as independently as possible. We hope to transition all of the orphans currently in Beijing out through adoption and focus this new school on providing more resources to our local community and family preservation.
Bethel is further advocating for the adoption of all our children. To further prepare Bethel’s children to live a loving life with a family, we continue to add volunteers to our English classrooms and specialists who can equip students with therapy. All the while, we are steadfast in striving to raise awareness about the stigma surrounding adopting a special needs child. Click to learn more about Adoption
At Bethel, we do our best to give each child the dignified upbringing they deserve. Through it all Bethel continues to push through thanks to people like you who continue to support the milestones that you have helped achieve in the last 15 years.
From all of us at Bethel, thank you.