On Wednesday, January 23rd, we had the chance to visit the orphanage and to see the place where Yuan-Yuan was found. This was our main purpose in making the trek to Guilin, and it was well worth it. Before getting into that, though, here is the view from right outside of our hotel. These are the Sun and Moon towers in Guilin, and they are right on the main waterfront and they look really cool.
Also, on this day we captured what I think is the cutest picture of the entire trip (so far), so I had to include it here. Nikole hit a home run with this panda hat. Yuan-Yuan loves it.
On our journey to the orphanage, we saw a lot of the more rural side of Guilin. Overall, it appeared to be pretty low on the socioeconomic scale. The rough roads made it hard to capture photos of the sights of the town on this trip, else I would include those here. There was also lots of construction. One street had a significant number of buildings collapsed to the ground, with people picking bricks out of the rubble. Because of the changes taking place, we were lost several times, and the driver had to get out and ask. We finally made it, though, and this is what we saw when they said we had arrived.
This orphanage is more than just an orphanage. It is the Social Welfare Centre of Guilin, and our guide told us that this center is both an orphanage and a place for the elderly. It is actually a very nice facility, compared to what you may normally think of a Chinese orphanage. Nikole and I read a book in the last few months called Wish You Happy Forever, which tells the story of how a foundation called Half The Sky has been transforming orphanages around China for a while now. We found out after we were matched with our daughter that this orphanage is affiliated with Half The Sky, which is definitely a factor in the quality of this orphanage. Also, our guide David said the director has been the director for about 20 years, and she is very good at her job.
This trampoline is especially neat for Nikole and me, because two of the videos we saw in the last several months were of Yuan-Yuan jumping on it. During this orphanage visit, it was absolutely joyous to watch her get excited and run to it and jump some more. This time we could see it with our own eyes!
Another great thing about this visit was that Yuan-Yuan’s teacher came out to see her. We could tell the teacher really loved Yuan-Yuan, and we were able to tell her how much we appreciated the job the teacher had done.
I mentioned that the facility also cared for elderly people. These exercise units were all over the grounds, and from what we could tell, they help with stretches and flexibility. Actually, we saw a lot of these things around the cities we have been in.
And finally, one of the most touching things we saw on this trip was Yuan-Yuan’s finding place. Her report says she was found at a bus stop on the Bus #22 line. David said he would take us there, and sure enough, he did… And, it’s right outside of the orphanage. It’s just across the street. Every person has a story and Yuan-Yuan is no different. While we won’t share all of Yuan-Yuan’s story here, as it is her story to tell, we were pleased to see that her finding site was so close to the orphanage–she wasn’t physically alone very long. This reality calmed our hearts a bit.
That sums up our great day. We are very excited to have had this opportunity, and hopefully we will be able to share this experience with our daughter over the years and it can be a positive experience for her. It’s part of her story, and we want her to own it and know where she came from. We love knowing that she was in good hands, and we love knowing that the orphans and the elderly in this facility are getting such great care.