In 2006 we were introduced to the work of Shepherd's Field Children's Village in Tianjin, China. The work being done there immediately touched our hearts as we saw how the neediest among us can be helped in such a generous and loving way. The mission of Shepherd's Field is to resurrect hope in the lives of special needs orphans, most of whom have been abandoned due to dire health issues, by providing medical, emotional, and educational care. With this special care, the children are brought to a level of stability that allows them to be adopted, which otherwise may not happen. Shepherd's Field has an unprecedented ratio of one nanny per three children, much lower than the national average of about one per twenty. Here, the children are able to form personal attachments and receive the care and attention that nurtures healthy physical and emotional wellbeing. The homes are designed to model a normal family environment, deemphasizing the institutional feel often associated with traditional orphanages, and encouraging a loving, healthy atmosphere.
Early in our relationship with the orphanage, RWF sponsored 2 of the 75 children at Shepherd's Field with a monthly donation of $35 per child. This small amount helps to provide heating, food, medical, and general day to day care. After a year of receiving newsletters describing the work happening there, we decided to visit the facility in China and see it for ourselves. Upon arrival we discovered that both the level of care and the need of the children were profound. The facilities only included three twostory houses at that time, which housed 25 special needs kids. The houses provided a homelike environment and it was obvious these children were in a very caring setting. Being in the flooring business, we quickly noticed problems with the existing floors in the homes. There were loose planks and separated boards which were a nuisance to some of the little children learning to walk. Motivated by the work of Shepherd's Field, we offered to replace the problem flooring.
At that point, the orphanage didn't realize our company only produced the flooring. They believed we were offering to come and not only provide the flooring but install it too. We were a little worried at first and didn't know how to tell them we were only manufacturers, but then we had an idea. How better to involve our clients, many who are flooring contractors, in this great mission? Not knowing how they would respond, we asked six of our best customers if they would be willing to join us to install the floors at the orphanage
Unbelievably they all responded with a resounding yes. Not only did they offer their time and talents, they were also willing to pay their own way. As a result, in 2007, RWF produced 9,000 sqft. of engineered walnut flooring and took a team of eleven to Tianjin, China to start a new chapter in our company. The project was a success and all that participated were eager to know when they could go back and continue the work.
In 2009, Shepherd's Field expanded their facility by adding a school and cafeteria, so we returned again and installed an additional 8,500 sqft. of walnut flooring. The next year they added three more houses that enabled them to accept and care for more children and so we again took a team of wood flooring contractors and distributors and installed another 8,000 sqft. of flooring.
By this time, we as a company realized that we had found our mission. Each of our team members have had the opportunity to take part in a project at Shepherd's Field. Having been so motivated and energized by the work, we’ve decided to directly align our company to support orphan care around the world. To date, Real Wood Floors has provided 25,500 sqft. of flooring and over $50,000 in financial donations to the work of Shepherd's Field.
Dang Huanhan was two years old when she arrived at Shepherd’s field in 2006 and given the English name Fiona. Some of our team had the pleasure of meeting her on the first trip we made to the orphanage. She suffered from a serious heart problem and pulmonary hypertension. Though she was small in size due to her illnesses, it was her determination, love, and exuberance in life that could have filled an auditorium. Fiona loved school, loved to sing and dance, and developed an unbreakable bond with her teachers, nannies, and peers. Unfortunately her ailments proved to be insurmountable. Bringing much heartache to those who knew her, Fiona passed away in February of 2010. We would like to honor the joy and love of life exhibited by this small, young girl, by continuing our involvement with Shepherd's Field and other orphan care facilities in the world.
Our wish is for our customers, vendors, and even competitors to partner with us in our mission to enrich the lives of orphans around the world in helping to bring them hope, enhance their health, and increase their joy.
Shepherd’s Field is in the process of completing construction of their largest facility to date at over 40,000 sqft. This new addition will provide assisted living apartments to the older children who can no longer be adopted, and also house a vocational training facility with ample room for a cottage industry that the older kids can be involved in. With this facility in place they will have the means to provide for not only their own needs, but also allow them the opportunity to experience the dignity of work in such a way that will help to financially drive the facility they live in. If this dream comes to fruition, it could be the beginning of a sustainable and reproducible model that can provide for orphan care in this type of facility the world over.
We plan to return to Shepherd’s Field, once they are ready for us, to supply and install the flooring in these new facilities. We hope to continue our vision of taking partners with us to help us complete the work.