*This week’s ‘Photo of the Week’ is an image from my story on the Bethel Training Center for Blind Orphans, currently being featured on the Photophilanthropy website. Below is the extract which supports the story. To see more images from this story, please click on the Photophilanthropy link.”
“I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden.” – Helen Keller, Blind and Deaf US Writer.
There are around 500,000 blind and visually impaired children in China. As a result of China’s strict one-child policy, children born with physical or mental disabilities are regularly abandoned as parents strive to have their only child born ‘normal’ and well.
In 2003, a young French couple, Guillhaume and Delphine Gauvine, founded the Bethel Training Centre for Blind Orphans near Beijing. Having sold everything they owned in the West, they relocated to China, setting up their training center as a response to their concerns about the lives of orphans in state orphanages, especially those suffering from blindness.
In December of 2003, Guillaume and Delphine took their first 3 orphans. Now, their project “Love is Blind” has expanded into a 17-acre property, housing over 30 blind orphans, with 50 local staff caring for them 24 hours a day. Their foster home is one of the only institutions throughout the whole of China which specifically provides education and care to orphans with disabilities.
When I first discovered Bethel in 2007, Guilhaume and Delphine welcomed me into their home to witness and photograph the extraordinary lives of their young children. After having been abandoned and facing the incomprehensible challenges associated with blindness at the beginning of their young lives, I arrived expecting to tell a tale of despair and sadness at the situations these children found themselves in. What I found however was the complete opposite; I discovered the most inspiring place I have ever been to.
Bethel is a place of love, joy, kindness and most importantly, hope.