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ImmerQi works with several NGOs and charitable organisations in and around Beijing. One of our longest serving relationships has been with an foster home which cares for visually impaired children. Thus far, ImmerQi has provided 4 fantastic volunteers as well as assisting the organisation financially and in other ways by attending fund-raising events and corn harvesting. A member of staff from the foster home has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the benefits of partnering with ImmerQi.

Please introduce yourself and your organization.

Our foster home is an organisation that supports children with visual impairments across China, ensuring that they live life to their fullest potential. We run four projects for kids aged 0-15, aimed at early intervention, primary school and secondary school education, as well as a home with specialized education for children with multi-disabilities.

What is your position within the organization?

Development Manager

Why did your organization decide to seek volunteers through ImmerQi?

Our partnership with ImmerQi began as ImmerQi was interested in providing technical support – the decision was made that ImmerQi would use their organisation’s strengths and support our volunteers.

Has the standard of participants provided by ImmerQi been satisfactory?

Yes! They have been wonderful.

How have volunteers provided by ImmerQi contributed towards your cause?

There have been 4 volunteers so far who have contributed in significant ways, including but not limited to roles such as mentoring, helping transition a class of children with autism into a new home, and establishing and running a bilingual pre-school class.

How have you ensured that the volunteer has an enjoyable and worthwhile experience?

We have tried to ensure that each volunteer has a significant project to work on. We have been fortunate with our ImmerQi volunteers so far as they have brought specific skills that add to our team.

What kinds of projects have volunteers been working on?

Mentoring, writing sponsorship updates, helping transition a class of children with autism into a new home, and establishing and running a bilingual pre-school class.

What kind of support have you provided the volunteer with?

Housing and hopefully a comfortable place to live and people on site who can speak some English. A line manager who organizes their schedule (eg. If they are working in education then they join the education department team). We try to meet up with volunteers in the city at weekends and bring them to church if they want to go. We show them how to navigate the local area – introduce them to drivers, supermarkets and restaurants.

We even found one volunteer a husband!!!

What are the benefits of having a foreign volunteer within a charitable organization in China?

Foreign volunteers often have skills and experience in areas that our local staff does not have. They also have a network of their own friends, families and churches and their share our vision and mission with their network.

However, there are some disadvantages. Sometimes foreign volunteers are highly trained, but lack Chinese language skills, which means that they often have to build up skills from the beginning again. For example, one volunteer is a trained child psychologist, but it is difficult for her to have therapy sessions without having a translator. Instead, her role as a teacher allows her to get to know the children and analyse them within class and introduce practical ways to support them.

Would you advise other similar organizations to welcome foreign volunteers?

Yes, but only if they have an interesting project for them and can provide support.

Have you learned anything from the volunteer (i.e. cultural, business, language, methods of care)

Many things! Ami, Tabitha and Priscilla have all been able to bring new teaching and training techniques to our organisation’s teachers to help with working with children with autism, early-intervention and working with children who have suffered trauma or abuse.

How do you feel the volunteer has developed from being a part of your organization?

I think volunteers leave with a better understanding of the bigger picture related to child visual impairment and social welfare in China. Volunteers have to put the kids first.

Have ImmerQi assisted your organization through their CSR initiatives? If so, how?

Apart from the volunteer programme, ImmerQi has supported us financially through fundraising initiatives, both as a company and as individual colleagues, raising over 13,000rmb for our new Changping home. The ImmerQi team has also come to our organisation to help us with our farm harvest, and supported our Christmas Concert.

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