Qinghai Province averages 9,000 feet in altitude. Air is thin and winters are fierce. The Tibetan Plateau, which comprises most of Qinghai Province, is vital to the rest of China and much of Asia since it's the source of three major rivers - the Yangtze, Yellow and Mekong. Thus, Qinghai is nicknamed "The Water Tower of Asia."
While China residents downstream from Qinghai enjoy its life-supporting waters, newborn babies on the Plateau suffer an unusually high congenital disability rate. When combined with poverty and other factors, babies and infants are abandoned at a sadly high level .
Christian Action began partnering with the People’s Republic of China to rescue and love Qinghai’s orphans and poor in 1997 when the province was particularly underdeveloped. When CA first began serving in Qinghai, orphans and abandoned infants were often left unattended and shared quarters with the elderly and psychiatric patients in the same government building. There was no training for parents of disabled children in the community and government employees in the Children's Home and very limited foster care. Special education and opportunities for therapy for disabled children were nonexistent. The situation seemed hopeless.
Over the last 18 years so much has changed. Christian Action now teams with the government to run 5 children's homes located in Xining, Huangnan, Haixi, Guoluo and Hainan prefectures, serving nearly 800 orphaned and abandoned children and youth (many are severely disabled).
In 2014, the Chinese government once again invited Christian Action to help address a great need: The care and development of mildly and severely disabled youth who, when they turn 18, have to leave the Xining Children's Home (XNCH) and transition to Xining Social Welfare Institute (XNSWI). CA and the Qinghai government signed a partnering agreement for the start-up of a model program--The Bridging Program--to help young people who have missed out on adoption or foster care and will require full-time care for the rest of their lives.
A new Small Group Home and sheltered workshop is being established at XNSWI for those making the transition from XNCH. Mentoring of each person's health and well-being will be vastly improved. Ongoing training and development for our youth who are entering adulthood will also be provided.
The Bridging Program is a huge answer to a long-standing prayer because this groundbreaking project will bring about powerful reform and facilitate help for those who have been neglected, or even forgotten, for such a long time. The small group home at XNSWI is among the first of its kind in China!
In addition to its work with orphans, Christian Action has also built 463 homes for poor ethnic Tibetan families, ten schools and two clinics at high altitude on the Tibetan Plateau.
As a result of the trust gained working with the government over the years, CA has been invited to co-manage 3 more children’s homes throughout Qinghai, including the area of Yushu, which suffered a devastating earthquake in April 2010. The goal is that there will be a home in each of Qinghai’s eight prefectures. Because there was so much damage done by the earthquake (when 100,000 people were made homeless and 80% of all structures were demolished), the government is still evaluating the merits of building anywhere from one to three homes in Yushu.
Christian Action is not only being positioned to save and serve over 2,000 orphans (primarily Tibetan) in a total of 8 homes throughout Qinghai Province, but it also is becoming the model for holistic care across the country. The government has responded to CA’s request and example by providing a better environment for children and youth including group homes, medical rooms, rehabilitation facilities, special education training, computer rooms, and outdoor physical activity facilities.
CA believes that wherever possible children need to be reunited with their families or cared for by loving families in the community. The foster care service CA has helped to implement in Xining has also become a model for the rest of China. A training program for parents of disabled children is now in place in Xining. Siew Mei and her team have been invited to Beijing to explain and help train representatives from many other cities in these areas.