Scripture reminds us not to despise the day of small beginnings. Little did teachers realise what would happen due to their visits to abandoned babies in an orphanage or their provision for families struggling alone with the challenges of caring for special needs children: a pioneering work was about to be birthed!
Agape has been key in establishing a number of welfare-based projects, each with a clear purpose and vision, and has appointed project managers responsible for their day-to-day running and finances, with oversight provided by the main Agape board and office. Some of the projects are registered as subsidiary NGOs and one, the Agape Farm, has been established as a small social enterprise business.
HZ Agape is made up of two programmes, employing 18 members of staff: Shekinah Shalom Childcare Centre and Eagles Wings. There are 48 children cared for in the childcare centre, of whom 80% have cerebral palsy. There is a focus on rehabilitation and this year 2,257 rehabilitation sessions took place for these children. There were also various activities and outings for the children and staff. Eagles Wings has 16 students who are being taught life and social skills. It is hoped that some of them will be able to get jobs, and so they are being trained specifically for this. They have also been learning about traditional Chinese culture and what is celebrated in each different holiday. They have been on outings to look at nature and to find out about the world. These are young people who were previously shut away out of sight, either in institutions or in their home because their parents were too ashamed to let them be seen.
This year, a Disabled Sports Meeting was held where disabled young people could show their talents, raising their profile in the community, and showing the potential that these precious ones have. Staff are also being trained with professional courses.
For those who live at home with parents, a parents’ group has been set up to help support them. A lot of this work involves coming alongside the parents, educating them about their children’s conditions and what is possible with training and help, plus teaching them to continue with the rehabilitation and training at home. Most have never had these opportunities for support or teaching before. This work with the parents is as important as the work with the children themselves, as they seek to show the Father’s compassion and love through their lives and attitudes.