Because of the Coronavirus Epidemic, I Became a Temporary Caregiver
I am a special education teacher working at Hengyang Care Centre. Because the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia, I was temporarily transferred to the Sunflower Family at ICC care centre to work as a full-time caregiver on special 48 hour shifts. This has been a great challenge for me. Even though I have worked at the centre for more than a decade, this is the first time I feel like I don’t know what to do, questioning myself how I can manage to do my work well.
On the 6th of February, I came to the Sunflower Family with a nervous heart. There are two children, Guoguo and Shengsheng, who already knew me because they are my students. Upon my arrival, they welcomed me in their unique way, waving their hands with shy smiles on their faces. Shengsheng even said to me, “Hello, teacher!” I was nicely surprised, and responded to them one by one. Then, I introduced myself to the other children and told them about my work for the upcoming weeks. They looked at me with their innocent expressions. I wasn’t sure whether they understood what I said or not.
“Welcome, Ms. Liu!” Ms.Cao, one of the Sunflower caregivers said to me with a polite smile. She showed me the worksheet for the Sunflower Family, and told me about the different routines of different children in the family, such as what time a child needs to eat, what medicine a child needs to take, which child needs to sleep in a specific posture, and so forth. Although I always knew that every child in our Centre requires special individualized care, I would never have imagined how complicated the caregiver’s work is if I were not here in this position at this time.
Despite the many uncertainties I felt, I started my work in this new temporary role. I was sure that I could always ask for help if there was anything I don’t know. With the help of Ms. Cao, I was able to do my job smoothly. In addition to taking care of the children’s daily lives, Ms. Cao and I would spend our free time with the children playing football, listening to music, and singing. It seemed that the children in the Sunflower family gradually accepted me, a stranger who suddenly came to their home. Each of them was behaving well and as I built relationship I could see they could understand and follow simple instructions.
A boy named Guoguo is the caregivers’ little helper. Every day, he completes many simple tasks within his ability, he even gives a hand to his friends who need help. If he has free time, he accompanies his friends Shu-shu and Bobo, sitting with them and holding their hands, just like an older brother who was protecting his younger siblings from harm. Without any restriction, they freely communicate with each other in their own special way.
Liu Li with Guo (left) and Huan
Liu Li with Bobo
When it was time for me to finish my shift, I had a lot of mixed feelings. Looking back on the past 48 hours, I had a new understanding of the caregiving work. In order to take care of the children well, the caregivers work with their whole hearts and have to overcome so many difficulties. Though we are going through a critical time, these caregivers are persevering in their positions, doing their daily work with extreme care and dedication. Their goal is to make sure that every child at the care centre can find refuge in their motherly love.