The one child policy, a law enforced in China to control its population growth, has been a challenge for families physically and mentally. Due to culturally male-valued philosophy in Chinese households, girls and children with disabilities were immediately abandoned at birth to make way for another child to be born and avoid prosecution from government officials. Now there are nearly 700,000 orphans throughout the nation.
Buckner Orphan Care International President and CEO Ken Hall recently returned from a trip to orphanages in China, where he and 17 other volunteers delivered shoes to the needy children. In 2000, he traveled with Buckner's vice president Mike Douris to China and since established a relationship with 5 orphanages there to alleviate the situation.
Hall said that there are several reasons to their mission, known as Shoes for Orphan Souls program. "We're here to love children. We also come to encourage the workers, who love these children. We want to build relationships with the group (of orphanages) and to earn credibility for our program. But, we also come here to improve the conditions of these orphanages," he said.
Since 1979, orphans in China have greatly multiplied under the government's plan to control the rampant birth rate, a measure to counter the stress factor to China's economic and agricultural system at for its current 1.3 billion population. The plan has limited each married couple to one child. Due to its strict enforcement carried out by local officials, the plan also made way for many girls and children with mental or physical disabilities to be left on the streets uncared.
Jeff Jones, the operations director for Buckner Orphan Care International stressed that every child counts under God's site.
"Every one of these children [in China] deserves all that any child anywhere deserves." Jones said, "This may be the only time someone directly loves one of these children. We're going to do everything we can to minister to these kids one-on-one with whatever time we're given."
In addition to the obvious benefits of placing needed shoes on the orphan's feet, Shoes for Orphan Souls has also allowed Buckner International to gain positive connections with child care leaders and programs in China. A number of training conferences were conducted throughout the nation for child-care workers.
Toward the near future, Hall is optimistic that the Shoes for Orphan Soul trips can make a deep impact for orphan care in China. "We are in a country in transition. We are trying in a quiet, gentle way to represent what it means to follow Christ. We don't have a long-term strategy, but simply to be faithful and see how things develop." He said.