The day little Wenwen was orphaned at just 3 months old was also the day she was welcomed unconditionally into a loving community.
She had been left outside a welfare institution where she was soon discovered by caring orphanage staff.
Soon after her arrival, OneSky-trained caregiver Zhou Rong entered her world. Each morning Zhou would pick her up from the nursery and, cradling her in her arms, take her to the playroom.
Zhou took a special interest in Wenwen and quickly grew attached to the little girl who so desperately needed someone to be close to. At first, Zhou thought Wenwen was simply withdrawn, however a subsequent health check also showed that she had a hearing impairment.
“She was so physically weak, and her little face seemed so scared and devoid of hope,” recalled Zhou. “I’d move my face closer and talk to her and she would gaze back at me and open her mouth as if trying to talk.”
On her first day in the playroom, she turned her head to look left and right and take in her new surroundings. Zhou found her a rattle to play with, shaking it first to capture her attention. But, when Zhou placed it in Wenwen’s hand, she seemed scared and dropped it on the mat.
But slowly she became more at home and, when she smiled, it was like the sun coming out. It was a transformative moment Zhou would never forget.
“She reminded me of my daughter when she was very little,” she explained. “I remember my daughter smiling just like that. Wenwen’s smile was adorable … it warmed my heart and when I saw it, all I could think was that I wanted to give her all the love she needed to grow strong.”
From then on, Nanny Zhou spent as much time with Wenwen as possible.
“I held her in my arms, looked her in the eyes, and talked to her face to face. I sang songs to her, and I repeated her name repeatedly.”
Zhou even discovered a way to allow Wenwen to “hear” her. She would hold Wenwen’s little hand to her own throat so she could feel the vibration of her vocal cords.
And soon the love and care of this skilled, warm-hearted carer started to pay off.
Wenwen showed she could sit up. She could turn over. Step by faltering step, she learned to walk.
And then, she said her first words, repeating Zhou’s patient words back to her: “Ma … ma. Ma-ma!”
When Wenwen grew older and healthier, she entered OneSky’s Loving Families Program where she had siblings, a full-time foster mom, and a working dad to care for her. Every day she would return to OneSky’s playroom where Zhou followed her progress.
“When she saw me in the activity room, I’d open my arms to welcome her, and she’d run over for a hug with that big smile,” said Zhou, who was thrilled that Wenwen now had a family to call her own.
As Wenwen became a toddler, she considered herself one of the “big girls” and her blossoming confidence meant she became a self-appointed nannies’ helper. At the end of each day, she would help collect toys, sorting them into neat piles before making a start on the children’s blankets.
And, having learned how to love from Zhou and her new foster family, Wenwen knows how to pay it forward. She is always protective of her younger brothers and sisters and if a child cries, she will run to Zhou calling for help. If a little friend is sad about a lost toy, Wenwen will help find it.
Later this year Wenwen will attend OneSky’s orphanage preschool for the first time. Despite the worst possible start to life, she will be ready.