Hurry Spring!

You may have heard the theory that when spring finally comes to China, its warm, sunny weather will mean the end of the coronavirus epidemic.

If repeating something enough makes it true, this theory’s a winner. The “spring solution” has been part of every conversation I’ve had with our Chunhui team in China these past weeks as they struggle under increasingly stressful circumstances.

Chunhui Children is OneSky’s sister organization. We first dreamed of creating a local Chinese little sister back in 2008, when two major events—the Wenchuan Earthquake and the Beijing Olympics—made it clear that Chinese citizens now had both the concern and the resources, and might be ready to support programs to benefit their own children at risk. Chunhui finally was granted official registration in 2012, is now a recognized public charity, and, although it still needs our help, is not quite such a little little sister anymore.

Speaking of spring, the name Chunhui means “the warmth of spring sunshine”.  The beautiful Chinese language has many layers; the name also refers to a Tang Dynasty poem where “chunhui” alludes to the warmth of a mother’s love.

So besides praying for spring, right now, in China, the loving mamas (and babas) of Chunhui are doing their best to keep our children safe and healthy. In order to protect them, the government has now completely closed off the orphanages. All institution staff, including our program staff, must remain inside. And thanks to Chinese citizens’ help and yours, we have been able to source and donate thousands of masks and bottles of disinfectants to the institutions.

The rest of our staff in China continue to work from home and are taking some time each day to participate in online training. That will continue into March if necessary. Online chat groups have also been set up to communicate daily with staff in affected areas, providing support where anxiety is highest.

As you might guess about this hardworking team, even those who are not anxious are feeling more than a little stir-crazy. So besides studies and video chats and finding ways to distribute protective gear to the welfare institutions, our program teams have also joined in an effort to banish the cloud of loneliness and boredom hanging over the country by using social media to share parenting tips, games,  and stories for housebound families with small children. Here’s a sample:

Meanwhile, news from the villages is concerning. There are a few isolated infections in one village where we work. Thankfully, none of children or their families are affected. Our village Family Mentors are coaching parents and grandparents how to best to keep the children active and engaged while exercising necessary safety precautions. Many parents have not yet returned to their factory and construction jobs after the Spring Festival holiday since most production has been suspended. While a comfort for our children to have their parents at home during the crisis, the financial strains will only grow worse over time.

As I’m sure you can imagine, we at OneSky are also feeling our share of financial strain and anxiety. Fundraising to support our programs has slowed as everybody tries to predict how the virus might impact the economy. Our Early Learning Center in Vietnam is closed but hoping to reopen next week. Our trainings for home-based care providers is on hold. And our beautiful new center and training base in Hong Kong sits silent and not-quite finished, waiting until building supplies can again cross the border. We are so grateful to have a whole other world of learning and sharing with our multilingual online learning community, 1BigFamily. I’ll tell you more about that in another post.

There is one bit of happiness to share. As I write this, it is the first day of Tsagaan Sar, Mongolia’s Lunar New Year. Like all lunar holidays, it’s a time to celebrate with family and friends, give gifts, feast at lavish banquets, and hope for the best in the New Year. Perhaps this Year of the Rat will give us another chance!

шинэ жилийн мэнд хүргэе!

With love and gratitude,