The majority of Chunhui big family members are front-line Chunhui mamas caring for children in welfare institutions every day of every year. As you come closer to them, you will find that the stories between these extraordinary women and the children under their care, like aged mellow wine, leave you an abiding fond memory.
Chen Xianglan is one of the first foster mamas working with Chunhui Family Program. She has spent 4000 days and nights guarding her little angels with broken wings. She keeps in mind each of the children she has nurtured in the past 12 years, she says. She loves to leaf through the photo albums that capture the sweetest days she relished with her kids.
Mama’s little tail
Yueyue was premature, delayed in physical development and language skills. She was enrolled into Chunhui Family Program at one and five months of age. She was tiny. Her big eyes stared at me without a blink, as if she was trying to read my mind. She stole my heart.
When she was two, Yueyue caught a fever. She lay on her crib, eyes closed and mouth mumbling. “Yueyue, could you tell me where you feel a pain?” I asked, holding her little hand tight, “You will get better after taking the medicine. I will stay by your side, always.” For four sleepless days and nights, I kept her company, cleaning her, testing her temperature, giving her water and medicine, and watching her closely. I was burned out but hung in there through those tough days. Fortunately, Yueyue’s temperature came down. The sixth day, she opened her eyes slowly and said “Mama, I am hungry…”
I’ll never forget that day—she spoke her first word, “mama”. Thereafter, she began to enjoy talking and beam sunshine smiles. Wherever I went, she followed and sweetly called me mama.
What is the big deal with DS? My kid is as great as others.
In 2009, I was recruited as a Chunhui mama and I thought it was nothing more than a typical job taking care of children. But when I talked into the welfare institution, I realized what was waiting for me, a group of parentless children with Downs Syndrome, Cerebral palsy, autism… Listening to the trainer’s lecture, my eyes fixed on these children, and my mind was muddled. I doubted whether it was a right decision to take the job.
My husband and I moved into the institution, where we started a family with four kids. Our first kid was Niuniu, a four-year-old boy afflicted with DS.
He was plump and fair faced. The caring little boy loved to help me do the laundry, prepare meals, mop the floor and take care the other younger kids. One day, Niu joined in a summer camp hosted by his school. The night almost fell but Niu hadn’t returned yet. I was worried and wondered what was up. As time wore on, my anxiety grew. Then, at eight pm, I heard a honk and dashed out. I saw the children got off the bus one by one. The moment Niu caught sight of me, he ran over, his cheeks flushing. With all smiles, he opened his school bag and took out a handful of bananas. “Mama, they are for you.” That moment, my eyes welled up with tears and I scooped him into my arms. “He suffers DS. So What? He has a heart as pure as crystal,” I thought to myself.
Chunhui Mama Program—Chunhui Family
Families have always been the best way we have to raise our young children. The Chunhui Family Program recruits married couples from the local community who receive our professional training and then set up loving foster homes for children with special needs who for the first time have the opportunity to grow up with familial love. Each family includes a trained full-time mom and a working dad who take care of 3-5 children who are unlikely to be adopted. The families live in apartments provided by the welfare institutions.