China Orphanages

by Bryant Figueroa on Oct 29, 2015

We are so unbelievably proud to share the correspondence we received below along with the incredible pictures they chose to share with us. The story brought tears to our eyes, and we are so grateful that we were able to help, even in a small way. These are really the stories that matter!

Baby K'tan outfitted Cindy Baker-fox (RN, BSN, IBCLC) with Baby K'tan Baby Carriers to bring with her on her medical mission to orphanages in China. We were thrilled and honored to be able to partner with Cindy.

Here is what Cindy had to say about her trip:

"I'm so sorry that it has taken me such a long time to get back to you about the carriers you donated for my China medical mission trip in August. The 4 carriers that you sent me where donated to our first orphanage, which was located in Shandong Province. The orphanage had 13 infants and several more toddlers. The infant room was staffed with only 2 caregivers, which required each nanny, as they are referred to, with the care and responsibility of 6-7 infants each shift. Most of the baby's were left lying in their beds with propped bottles, due to the lack of personnel to care for them. Our focus during this trip was to provide medical exams on each baby, and screen them for medical issues that needed specialty care. We saw approximately 50 children ranging in age from 15 days old to 11 years. Each child received a brief exam while others required more in-depth care. As the only Pediatric RN on our team of 4, it was my responsibly to assess their growth and nutrition. Malnutrition was the primary medical problem that we noted and addressed. The degree of malnutrition was something that we do not see in this country. It was heart breaking. After spending several days teaching the caregivers about proper formula preparation and intake requirements, I knew that I had to teach the staff a different way of interacting with the babies, in an attempt to help them thrive. The carriers could not have been more appropriate for these staff members. They had little to no time to hold the baby's and they definitely did not have time to carry them around. Their interactions were primarily with diaper changes and some feedings. The caregivers did, however, love their babies but did not have the time or resources to hold and love on these little ones. On our last day at this orphanage, I presented the staff with the 4 carriers. I was able to show one of the nannies how to put it on and properly use. She was hooked. She found a carrier for the other nanny and our translator. The four of us took turns carrying around the different babies as they awoke and fussed. Everyone was thrilled, especially the babies. A few of the babies were unsure of themselves as they were not accustomed to being held much less carried. We had such a wonderful time loving on these little ones. The director of the orphanage was so grateful for your selfless donation to his little unknown orphanage. He was touched that so many strangers from another country cared about his children. If I accomplished only one thing on this trip, it was to show the orphanage staff that loving these little abandoned babies was essential to their survival, and the donated carriers gave them an opportunity to do just that. They all thanked you. I thank you! Attached are the pictures we took as we were putting on and carrying around the babies. Feel free to use them as you see fit.

Teaching an orphanage caregiver how to use the Baby K'tan

Teaching an orphanage caregiver how to use the Baby K'tan

Our second orphanage was a large orphanage in a different province. I have chosen not to reveal the name, or location, of this orphanage due to the conditions we found. This orphanage will eventually house up to 600 children, ranging from newborn on up. It was new to New Horizons for Children, the Boston based organization that I went with. No one had any idea what we would find. Even though this orphanage was in a more affluent part of the country, many of the children were not in good condition. Most of the infants and children were handicapped or gravely ill. As a part of the culture of this orphanage, the nannies and caregivers did not hold the babies. Again there were only 2 caregivers for 12-16 infants. Bottles were propped and baby's were left to lie in they cribs for several hours at a time. Many had bedsores and demonstrated signs of chronic malnutrition. I spent much of my time assessing the nutritional status of many of the infants and teaching basic infant and nursing care. They had a few nurses on staff, yet their skill levels were much lower that that of any level of nurses in the US. I spent a good deal of time role modeling and teaching things like swaddling, bathing and feeding a small premature infant that they had. I was able to have the caregivers and nurses practice holding babies and comforting them. I wished I had had more carriers for this site, but I'm not sure they would have been as receptive to the concept at that time, due to the severe conditions we found and the multiple problems that we had to address. Since our departure, the orphanage director has requested that our team return and assist them in additional changes that are needed. As a result, part of the team is returning to this orphanage later this month. I will not be accompanying them this time. The director of the China program at Wide Horizons, would like to bring a few carriers with her and teach the staff how to use them. Most of the infants that we encountered are not adoptable, which is one of the services provided by this agency. Consequently, these infants and children will spend most of their lives lying in a crib or a bed. Anything that I can do to alter that for even one child, I would like to do. I would like to request a few more used carriers, if they are available. If not, what would be the cost to purchase 2 such carriers. I would like to send them off to the director asap. The director believes that the staff is ready to learn how to hold and bond with these infants. Please consider this matter. Thank you so very much for what you did for us and a few abandoned baby's in China. The attached pictures have been cleared for you to use on Facebook or in what ever capacity that you choose. Please let me know if there is anything else that you might need."

Sincerely, Cindy Baker-fox, RN, BSN, IBCLC