The Bright Connection, Center for Special Needs children, officially opened in Sanya City, Hainan, China, February 2004.
The Beginnings of The Bright Connection, really began in 1997.
Bright side of life
By Erik Nilsson (
(Up-date by John 2012)
Like most proud parents, John and Maggie Davis will never forget the day their daughter took her first steps. Unlike most children, though, little Qiong Jian was already 7 years old.
The American couple adopted the girl, who had autism, cerebral palsy and congenital hip defects, after the 8-month-old was left in a basket at a university in
"Naturally, we felt sorry for her for having been abandoned. Now, here she was, in a safe environment and needing attention and care," says John.
Little did they know she wouldn't be the only special needs orphan they would nurture. Seven years later, the couple opened The Bright Connection (
On that day in 1997, however, it was all about Qiong Jian. "She was lying on her back, wrapped in a baby blanket, wearing pajamas and waving her little arms in the air," John recalls.
"We later learned this action is a trait of autism called 'filtering'. I just thought she was waving at a host of her own unseen angels."
Her real angels, it turned out, were the two foreigners who fell in love with her.
They began visiting her almost daily in the hospital. Maggie baked chocolate-chip cookies for the nurses and sometimes slept curled up with the baby.
John recalls the moment Qiong Jian really stole his heart. He was walking through the hospital hallway, holding her and humming a lullaby.
"I quietly told her, 'time to go to sleep', and, with her eyes and mouth closed, she made one of those tongue-in-cheek expressions as if to say, 'I ain't going to sleep yet'. That was definitely a personality response that touched my heart."
When the hospital said it couldn't provide full-time care for the girl, the
"We named her Grace, because as grace is freely given, so Qiong Jian was also given to us," John says. "Frankly, without grace, no one can do what we decided to do."
"We knew that Qiong Jian wasn't the only child in
They opened the Center in 2004, the same year Qiong Jian took her first steps.
"The rewards of running The Bright Connection are seeing the individual progress of the children," John says.
This started with watching Qiong Jian walk on her own for the first time. At the beginning of her physical therapy, she used two walking sticks but later needed only one.
When her parents noticed she sometimes walked without the stick touching the ground, her physical therapist decided to swap it for a banana, which she held to keep a sense of security. Today, she gets around without any walking braces - or fruit. ( in 2008 she had Spinal Fusion surgery because of severe Scoliosis. This has set her back somewhat in walking, but she is overcoming daily ! )
"Now, she can look around and appreciate her environment, and now everyone can see her beautiful eyes and smiles," John says.
One boy with cerebral palsy loves his new walking braces so much that he sleeps with them. He's also learning to be aware of his mouth - how to keep it closed and how to improve his speech.
"Working on motor skills that most of us just don't even think about, like stringing beads, is a real challenge for our kids," John says.
"But they love being praised, being tickled and laughing at a fun cartoon. And seeing the kids learn to help each other, like one child can pick up and hold a cup so she gives a drink to her little buddy who doesn't yet have that skill, is a wonderful sight to see."
The Americans found their foreign status helpful in starting and running the Center.
"It's brought a bit more attention to what The Bright Connection is doing," Maggie says. "We have no complaints. The community, the local folks all pat us on the back and let us do what we do with approval. And if we need special help, we usually get it."
A local masseuse refused payment for helping their daughter during her physical therapy and several local companies donate money and services.
The couple's dream is to expand the Center to care for 100 children .
In addition, the Center will expand its current staff from 20 and increase salaries, as many of the employees live and work at the Center all day, every day.
"They deserve it," Maggie says. "It's no ordinary job and worth more monetarily than we are presently able to pay, so it's definitely a servant's heart sort of job."
The children vary in abilities and needs. Some can walk, some can crawl and some can do neither. Some can talk, some can babble and some are silent.
"But all of the children know when love is expressed to them," John says.
"Some will come for a loving hug. Some can smile and look at you with a twinkle in their eyes."
当她的父母发现她有时没有坚持走触地，她的物理治疗师决定换一个香蕉，她举行保持一种安全感。今天，她得到周围没有任何行走括号 - 或水果。 （然而，2008年以来因脊柱侧弯Fussion手术，她走路的进展已设置有点，但她每天练习会带来改善）。
脑瘫男孩喜欢他新的步行括号，以至于他与他们睡觉。他还学习要知道他的嘴 - 如何保持它关闭，以及如何改善他的讲话。