All Family Here

Updated: 2011-11-20 08:40

By Mike Peters (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Residents learn how to work buttons and zippers, and master other routines of daily life once they can dress themselves. They learn English and may also learn French and Braille, depending on their individual abilities, in an environment that strives to be personal, not institutional.

All Family Here

Xiao Hua, 18, likes to show visitors the Bethel complex, including her bedroom. [Photo/China Daily]

"Our philosophy is: We don't help blind children, we teach them how to help themselves," Guillaume says.

For the ablest, there is a life plan waiting when they pass school age. Several Bethel students live in apartments in Beijing near the State school for the blind. One has begun a job at the Doubletree Hilton; others will get practice dealing with the public - and a cash register - at a new arts-and-crafts store that Bethel will open soon in Beijing's trendy suburb of Shunyi.

Whatever the ability level, each student is part of the community, on the farm, in the swimming pool, and especially in the music room. Sing-song voices spill out as a visitor walks past:

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear


Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Shine your shoes

There is a piano - and a guzheng, the plucked Chinese stringed instrument that looks to Westerners like a tabletop harp. There are drums, and shelves jammed with guitars, nearly one for each resident.

And often, there is Faguo Baba.

"French Father can play great," confides Xiao Hua, a spunky 18-year-old tour guide who has blossomed as a Braille translator since she came to Bethel in 2004. "He is very good! He plays drums and the piano. Sings songs!

"He is very good!"

You can contact the writer at


   Previous Page 1 2 3 Next Page