When we began our program, the orphanages had many babies all in a room full of cribs where they laid all day long. Our Hugging Granny program was started to bring these volunteer women into the orphanages where they could hold these babies and give them some loving attention. Over the years the role of our Grannies has changed. There are now fewer babies in the orphanages, especially fewer healthy babies, and more handicapped children. So many of our Hugging Grannies function as a physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, or teacher, especially as these therapists are hard for the orphanages to find and provide for the children.
The Hugging Grannies still give the loving attention to these children that they used to give to the babies. But in addition, they do rehab exercises with them and teach them basic life skills. Some of these children aren't allowed to attend local schools because of their disabilities, so the Grannies teach them basic knowledge, often through play, singing and dancing. And for the children in foster homes, some of our Grannies visit the foster homes and teach the foster parents to do rehab exercises with their foster child. Some of the Grannies are doctors or nurses and work in the orphanage clinic providing needed medical care.
Each Granny is considered a volunteer but is given a monthhly stipend to cover some of her expenses, such as travel to the orphanage and meals away from home. Their monthly stipend is 600 yuan, and with the current exchange rate this is about $108 per month, which includes Amity Foundations's 7% admin fee.