Today, we took a 4-hour train ride through the mountains from Xian to Ankang in order to visit the Ankang City Orphanage (former home of our Karly Grace and many other precious children who have been adopted). Travelling through the mountains is spectacular, with many small villages, beautiful scenery, and the Han River running alongside the train tracks for miles and miles. This is my third visit to Ankang, and each time is special and I notice more spectacular scenery on the way down there. It is difficult to count the number of tunnels we went through but each time you reach the other side, there appears a new village.
After obtaining special permission from Shaanxi Civil Affairs yesterday, we were able to travel to Ankang and tour the orphanage. Mr He (“Hu Yeh Yeh”) met us at the train station with the orphanage driver and took us through the city center on our way to the orphanage. Most people do not realize that Ankang is a city with over 2,000,000 people! The city sits along the mighty Han River, so it has a few beautiful bridges we crossed on our way.
When we arrived at the orphanage, I noticed there were about 10-15 special needs children playing in the courtyard and waiting for us. Some of them were playing on the playground equipment donated by A Mother’s Love! It was heartwarming to know they still use this every day and the kids seem to really love it. The orphanage is undergoing renovation on one side and the other seems to have been recently completed. I could not tell how much of the buildings were new additions and how much were remodels. I was able to video the children playing outside while JR snapped many pictures with his camera.
Once we went inside, we were able to see the smaller babies in the cribs — some has special needs and some did not. Wen Wen was helping the nannies with the babies, especially the few toddlers who were wandering around between the cribs. It was SO great to see her again and to let her see the photo album I brought to her and the nannies showing many of the kids who have been adopted from Ankang with their families in America. To say the nannies and Wen Wen were very excited would be an understatement!!! I was very emotional when I saw Wen Wen and gave her a hug from some of the older girls who have been adopted like Ya -Ya and Fei-Fei. I want to bring her to America so badly to see if there is anything we can do for her medically but I do not think it will ever be possible. But then again, through God ALL things are possible! MeiLing was at school and did not return back before we had to leave, so I had to tell the staff to tell her hello and give her a big hug! Almost all of the nannies are still there and seem to love the kids.
After playing with the babies, I was able to take pictures of the rehab equipment A Mother’s Love purchased for Ankang in 2008. The equipment was being stored in a smaller room while the orphanage is being renovated but they assured me the equipment is used regularly. The equipment they bought was exactly the same as I had seen in the pictures. We then had a quick dinner at KFC (yes, KFC was suggested in order to keep me from getting sick from Chinese food!). It was on way back to train station so that made it more convenient for all of us. We then said our goodbyes to all and headed to an incredibly crowded train station and left back for Xian. It was the most crowded and clostrophobic I have ever been in a large room but people were pushing everywhere.
It was an emotional day for me and I was able to keep it in check most of the time, but when I saw Wen Wen for the first time and when I said my goodbyes I could not help but lose it. She is such a sweet girl (she is now 20 yrs old!) and has helped raise all of the babies that lived in Ankang. I just want the very best for her and to help her walk someday if that would be possible. Enjoy the pictures!!!!!