The Opportunity in Every Situation
What seemed like a disastrous situation led ICC into a foundational way of providing care.
Posted by Ben Chhoa March 27, 2013
Love is the foundation for everything we do at International China Concern. In the early days that meant not only loving the children we cared for, but also the buildings where they were housed. We called them Hope House and Oasis House.
When we were introduced to the site of our long-term care facilities for the first time back in 1995, the building was in a state of disrepair. No one had lived there for at least five years and the premises were used as a wash and repair place for taxis.
For several months, teams of dedicated and skilled volunteers from Mobile Missions Maintenance (MMM International) worked with local workers to completely overhaul the building. The volunteers included all manners of tradespeople including bricklayers, tilers, glaziers, plumbers, and electricians.
We added electricity and water pipes into the house, replaced walls and windows, and completely retiled the floors. We built new walls to separate rooms. We put new ceilings in. We installed bathrooms and toilets. We built a kitchen. We mended the roof. We took away the cement flooring that was covering a big part of the grounds where we wanted to have a grass area. We built a fence around Oasis House. We even put in a garden.
And when all was said and done, we finally had a place where our kids could feel at home.
But in 2004, we were given some devastating news. The buildings were going to be torn down and repurposed, leaving us with mere months to find an alternative. Where would we go from here? It was a gut-wrenching decision and one that would dramatically impact the children.
We desperately needed to find a permanent solution that would allow the children to have a reliable and stable home. This led us to establish the community group home model, a central pillar of our care work. At the time, this was cutting-edge work and these were the first community group homes in the area. What was initially a very difficult situation became a catalyst for us to take this next step that would allow the children to benefit from a family-style environment.
In the traditional care centre setting, care is given to the children in groups. This means less time one-on-one and can make it difficult to provide customised, holistic solutions for care. Also, if the children want to go out into the community, it would need to be in large groups, which doesn’t offer as much opportunity for the children to gain a sense of community.
In the group homes, the children are placed in a family-style setting. The children treat each other like siblings and the caregivers are essentially house parents. Children are given the opportunity to learn how to take care of themselves and each other. As family-style living becomes the norm for these kids, they feel the joy of being accepted and work as a group to build a loving and comfortable home.
Since starting the group home model, we’ve seen children grow in leaps and bounds. Some now help with buying groceries, cooking, and doing regular chores. Others just enjoy the loving environment that comes with suddenly discovering they have been accepted by a group of siblings where once they knew only abandonment.
Thanks to the generosity and support of our donors, ICC has been able to purchase the group homes we currently occupy. This allows us to make renovations to improve accessibility and gives us the confidence that these are stable and permanent locations for the foreseeable future.
With the community group homes in place, we can truly say we have provided these kids with your love, for life.