I am very fortunate to be the Mother of my two beautiful girls. They are both gorgeous, inside and out and I am so proud of what they have achieved in their lives so far, especially with the upheaval that this expat life brings. I had a beautiful Mum myself and though I lost her nearly fifteen years ago, two days before I became a Mother myself, I still think of her every day. Mother's Day is a time to remember times with my Mum and to spend time with my girls.
Mother's Day 2011 was spent with my girls at the Lao Wang orphanage in the Anhui province in China. Lao Wang is the parent of a disabled child, he could not understand how any parent could abandon their child. A flood destroyed his factory and he became bankrupt in 1994. He then opened his now empty factory to provide for orphans, disabled and healthy, newborn to adult. He received very little from the government and relied mainly on donations to run his orphanage. Expat Julie Martens came across the orphanage in 2009 and asked the children what they would like her to bring, they answered rice! So Mifan (Rice)Mama (Mother), the charity was formed.
We were there to deliver a truckload of donations of food, clothes and other supplies. We had spent the day before on a bus, travelling for nine hours to get there. When our bus pulled into the orphanage, there were so many expectant faces, though the children didn't quite know what to make of us. They were very happy with the lollies that we handed out and watched while the truck was unloaded.
Was very interesting, that the favoured box was not that containing toys, but the box of books. So sad that most of these children, however bright, would possibly not get the opportunity of an education.
We had the honour to meet the benevolent, Mr Lao Wang, who has devoted his life to these children in need and Julie Martens, the gracious lady behind the charity responsible for the donations, Mifan Mama. What a difference these two people have made to the lives of so many children.
We walked around, talking, holding, playing. There were moments of anguish and moments of pure joy.
It nearly broke our hearts to leave this cheeky little boy behind. He instantly fell in love with my eldest daughter. She spent hours carrying him around, playing with him, feeding him, cuddling him.
This young man was very happy to be told that the t shirt he happened to be wearing, was the uniform of the school my girls went to. I really hope that he went on to get an education.
Some of the kids were happy to play with the toys, things they had never seen before.
Others were happy with some attention, a game, a laugh.
Some were locked in their own little worlds.
Some couldn't get enough interaction.
To see tiny babies, with disabilities so easy to fix but with no funds available was so distressing.
To meet the carers, usually retired farm labourer couples, who are with the children 24 hours a day 7 days a week was uplifting, they give so much for love in return.
One of the greatest gifts I have ever received was given to me by this little baby girl with a severe cleft palate. She was crying, I went in and talked to her, cuddled her, stroked her. She stopped crying and she smiled, really smiled. The biggest most beautiful smile I have ever seen.
I have had many Mother's Day celebrations, with my Mum and as a Mum, breakfasts, picnics, chocolates and flowers. Be hard though, to better this one, a day spent with my girls, giving to children with no Mum, with not much of anything at all. My girls didn't complain of the nine hour each way bus trip, the 40C heat, the oppressive humidity, the dodgy truck stop noodle meals. They gave their time, cuddles and love to children in need. My girls made me so proud that Mother's Day, the best Mother's Day gift of all.
Happy Mother's Day to all the Aussie and Kiwi Mum's out there xxx
Most of these children were later moved to a government run facility built nearby, with better facilities and access to education and medical assistance. Mifan Mama provides support to other less fortunate orphanages that need assistance. They still visit the new orphanage to see the children develop and to take them treats.