Perspective: A Caregiver’s Journey
ICC strives to provide a safe and loving home for our children and young adults. Dedicated and well-trained caregivers are therefore invaluable for the provision of quality family-style care.
Zhou Zhaoyang, one of the caregivers at the Hengyang Care Centre, shares her journey as the “mum” of seven boys in the Pine Family, through which she has learned much about love, joy, patience and the strength of the human spirit.
Meet the Pine Family
In October 2014, I became the head caregiver of the new Pine Family home. At that time, two of the boys came from the baby unit and the other five were new admissions to ICC from the government welfare centre at Hengyang. All seven boys, ranging in ages from 6-12, have significant special needs.
Although they are not able to eat, walk, shower or go to the bathroom by themselves, they bring love and sunshine to our lives every day. Each of them has their own personality traits and needs, such as Shushu who trusts us so deeply and who smiles just to hear our voice to comfort him; Weiwei who needs such loving attention to make sure he gets the necessary nutrition; Hehe who needs toys to hold so that he stays occupied and doesn’t suck his hands; Dingding who likes his food and is never fussy; Dede who laughs a lot but is fussy with food and likes dumplings more than any other food; Wenwen who needs lots of attention from the therapy team to make sure he can sit comfortably; and Zhuzhu who has made the most progress since being in our home.
Through my time taking care of these boys, I have grown to love each of them so much. We know and feel comfortable with each other. The boys feel safe with me and the other ladies who work in their home.
Of course, we are the “mums” to the boys, which means we also need to do the normal “mum” things, like washing, drying and folding clothes, and cleaning the house. We do this throughout the day.
Understanding Disability through Practice
Before I worked at the Hengyang Care Centre, I did not understand disability and would not have understood these children. I remember the first time I met Shushu, the first of the boys I met, I was thinking how beautiful he was, but also how fragile!
He had a big plaster on his leg after a surgery at that time, and I helped bring him back from Changsha where he was in the hospital. I remained still for the entire three-hour trip home because I was so scared that any movement would hurt him!
Since then, I have grown to love Shushu and all of the boys so dearly. All the caregivers here put our hearts into caring for these boys and our time with them has given us such big hearts of love for them. Through taking care of these special and precious children, I have learned much about love, joy, patience and the strength of the human spirit.
Besides the Pine boys, I have a 17-year-old son. During his holidays, I would arrange for him to volunteer at the Hengyang Care Centre and spend time with his “siblings.” I want him to learn to care for others, especially those who are disadvantaged and have disabilities.