Saturday, December 27, 2008

An Introduction!

Welcome to the China Home Foudation News blog! Here is a quick introduction to our work and and to us:

The China Home Foundation was established in the fall of 2008 to supplement care for the healthy, adolescent population of the Luoyang Children's Welfare  Institute – a state run orphanage in Luoyang, China – by Michael Melsi and Mike Shook.

Michael came to China for 5 months before starting law school.  3 years later, in what feels like a different lifetime, he is still here.  Michael had been teaching English in Luoyang when he discovered the city orphanage. Curious about orphan care in China, he requested a visit. The orphanage staff agreed for Michael and a friend to take what they believed would be a brief tour of the facility. When they arrived, they were ushered into a large room on the 6th floor and told "you can begin the English class now!".  Michael recalls spending the next 2 hours improvising with 50 kids following him around pointing at objects saying "blue" and "dog".

What was supposed to be a 40 minute tour lasted until the kids were going to bed that evening.  In that brief time, Michael began to form a real connection with these kids.  As the kids prepared for bed, Michael and his friend gave out lots of hugs and said goodbye.  Then came the moment that changed Michael's life.  Timmy (an adorable then 7-year-old boy) walked up to him and asked, "big friend, will you come back tomorrow?".  Michael couldn't say anything but yes, and as he likes to say, he has been going back every tomorrow since.  In the years that have followed, Michael has spent almost every day with these amazing kids, and has served the role of Uncle/Teacher/Friend/Mentor/Personal Assistant/Photographer/Cruise Director/Santa Claus.  He often says that if you told him that this would be his life 3 years ago, he would have laughed at you, but now he wouldn't trade it for anything.  He considers himself a deeply blessed man to have these kids in his life.

In June of 2008, Michael met Mike Shook, who had been working in Beijing with the New Hope Foundation – the end of a two year tour assisting with orphan care projects throughout the world. They immediately formed a deep friendship and later that summer Mike decided to move to Luoyang to join Michael in his work. During a now infamous bus ride to Pizza Hut (yes we have Pizza Hut in Luoyang!), Michael and Mike shared information and discovered that the entire 5th floor of the orphanage would be vacated by its current occupant, however, all of the healthy, older kids would remain on the 4th and 6th floors of the facility.  Thus sprung the idea that there may be potential to move into the floor and begin to work with the kids on a larger level.

By the amazing grace of God and the endless generosity of their friends at the New Hope Foundation, they have now been given the opportunity to move onto the 5th floor and turn what was once a dream into reality. In March of 2009 the floor will be vacated and the newly established China Home Foundation will be able to move onto the floor. Our vision is to provide a place that the kids can call "home" and where they have the unconditional love, encouragement, and confidence necessary to be creative and learn skills that will enable them to transition from life at the orphanage to life outside the orphanage when they reach the age to leave.

Saturday, December 20, 2008