The thought of not being able to see makes my heart beat fast, but as we walked the halls of Bethel China yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t help but feel completely at peace.
Nestled in the southwest countryside of Beijing, Bethel is a school for visually impaired, orphaned children. The kids here have a wide variety of visual disabilities. Some are completely blind while others have just minor visual impairment in one eye. With either case, what stood out the most about Bethel was the joy on the children’s faces and the laughter that filled the air. But not only are these kids happy, but they’re smart. Like really smart. They navigate the halls and stairs like they have perfect vision. (I still trip about 50 percent of the time when I climb stairs.) They are doing school work, learning English, jumping on trampolines, and even riding bikes. These kids are incredible!! I think that I expected the children to mostly sit around and need help doing just about anything, but I was wrong.
This is part of the message that Chloe is trying to get out. Chloe is the Development Manager at Bethel. She has been working here for over two years, and you can see and feel the love she has for these kids. Not only is she advocating for these children to be adopted, but she is helping to develop programs within China to make it easier for them to live and function in their own society. One way Bethel is helping with this is by allowing Chinese parents to bring their visually impaired children to attend school there. The children are being educated, and at the same time, the parents are learning how care for their child’s different needs to help them live a mostly normal life. As this parental education spreads, it is helping keep children with visual disabilities from becoming orphans in the first place.
As you look through these pictures I hope you can feel the joy and peace that emanates from these children. We have only spent a short time with them so far, but they have already changed my perspective made my vision a little more clear.