Love Never Fails
This winter, with the sudden spread of a new virus the lives of everyone in China were disrupted. Chinese New Year, which had always been the livelist and most important holiday for Chinese people, was unprecedentedly quiet and even deserted this year. The streets were empty, family dinners were cancelled, and everyone had locked themselves in their own homes, all because of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The epidemic started from the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province, the most populous city in central China and a major transportation hub. Then, it quickly spread to the rest of China due to its highly contagious nature and the travel rush before Chinese New Year. Hunan province, which is the main location of ICC’s work, happens to be the neighboring province to Hubei and thus has also been hit by the epidemic.
The new and unprecedented conditions made it all the more difficult to protect and attend to the needs of the many medically vulnerable children who live together under institutional care. In response, ICC’s Rainbow Project, which cares for high-needs children with disabilities in Changsha’s No.1 Welfare Center started closed-off management in order to minimize the health risks for the children and the staff. During this special time, 15 caregivers worked 24-hour shifts and stayed inside the project to care for the children since Februray 1st. For 10 days, these caregivers shared everything in their lives with the children they cared for, eating with them, living with them and taking care of them. He Fang is one member of this team of caregivers in the Rainbow Project.
On January 31st, when the Welfare Center announced the beginning of the closed-off management, He Fang was on her work shift in Rainbow. After she heard about the new change, she volunteered to join in the first work team to care for the children 24/7. Among the other caregivers on the team, He Fang is the youngest. When she decided to stay in the project, her husband was working and her children were cared for by her parents.
During the quarantine period, He Fang along with her coworkers were busy all the time. They took very good care of the children, measuring their body temperature, sterilizing the room, doing physical exercise, playing with and interacting with the children. Everything was in perfect order as the caregivers did their jobs meticulously.
In the past couple days, there was basically no distinction between work and life for them. Because sterilization was the highest priority when it came to preventing infections, the caregivers would use a sterilamp or disinfectant to sterilize every corner of the room whenever they got time. When the sun was out, He Fang would wash and dry all the beddings in the children’s rooms, so that they could take their rest in a safe and clean environment.
“How are you, He Fang? Are you tired? Do you miss home?” One day, a manager asked He Fang this question, as her hard work and dedication to care for the children was obvious to all. “I’m definitely a little tired, but I’m not homesick yet. En Quan Yuan (the name of the location of Rainbow project) is also my home. In a time like this, my biggest wish is to guarantee the safety of these little children.”These simple words have captured her heart as well as those of many other Rainbow staff.
After 10 days had passed the isolation period needed to be extended and many of the staff needed to stay. He Fang volunteered to stay on. Her supervisers were worried that she wasn’t able to care for her family, but she responded: “It’s okay. My parents can still take care of themselves. My kids are also behaving very well and taking online classes. Also, my husband can care for them as well. They are all supportive of my decision to stay.”
The hard battle to prevent the spread of coronavirus is still going on up until today. In the afternoon of February 10, the second team officially started their shift, and He Fang was with them. A new round of hard work has begun: feeding, bathing, changing diapers, and so forth. By shining their light in their unique positions, caregivers like He Fang are completing ordinary tasks with great care and faithfulness, and truly made the ordinary extraordinary.
In the midst of all the severe challenges caused by this epidemic, ICC is beyond grateful to have people who lived out its vision to bring love, hope and opportunity for every child with a disability in China. They gave us the perfect picture of what love really means – “It is not self-seeking. It always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Because of people like He Fang, we can have the reason to hope that even though the epidemic may come to steal, kill and destroy, life can be given to the full, because love never fails.