Mifan Mama’s Shining Star Foster Home

Mifan Mama, or rice mother, was founded in Shanghai in 2009, with the aim to better the lives of Chinese orphans, through providing basic necessities such as clothing, medical care, food and education. Since then, Mifan Mama has grown as an organization and now has specialized projects, such as helping orphaned children through school and even to college level education. 

Talk went to find out about one of the largest projects Mifan Mama is currently working on, Shining Star Foster Home in Minhang district. Shining Star specialised in care for children who are blind or partially sighted and therefore need additional help with their learning and personal development, something the orphanages may not always be able to provide. We went to visit the home and met with Julie Garrett, Operations Manager and founder of Shining Star, to find out more about the organization.

Presently there are six children in the home, aged from one and a half to eight year olds. Eight is the age when the children are encouraged to move back into an orphanage; going into mainstream fostering or orphanage. Shining Star focuses on getting the children ready for school and gives them the skills to be able to lead a normal life with their disability. At Shining Star we also met with local volunteers. Mifan Mama always encourage people to get involved whether it is directly engaging with the children, or working on the fundraising and local awareness of the project. All children have their own individual lessons and schedules, in order to get their education to a level at which they could join a school and thus encouraging their independence. Not only do the children receive this personal attention for their own development, but they are also frequently taken on day trips to the city or even just the local mall or supermarket to gain exposure to everyday life. This practical learning is highly beneficial. As within ordinary orphanages, this level of individual care is more difficult to cater for due to the large numbers of children living there. These day trips, for example to a soft play center, also provide opportunites for interaction with local children and discussions about their differences, which is something those who work at Shining Star encourage for the children’s learning and understanding. 

Another learning curve the children encounter is the large volume of volunteers who come and go frequently. This is also encouraged by Garrett, who explained that this teaches the children to understand that in life, people are not always going to be around and that things move on, as they will, eventually, from Shining Star.

It is inspiring to see such young children dealing with adversity. They appreciate how far their learning and social abilities have developed since being introduced to Shining Star. We also discovered at the end of our visit that two of the children will have their congenital cataracts removed, which means they can gain partial sight. Without the help of Shining Star and their donors helping with medical care, this could never have occurred. It was an educational and humbling visit and we would encourage anyone based in Shanghai to get involved with the organization. 


Shining Star Foster Home. 28 Long Beach Garden Villa, 1533 Huqingping Lu, near Zhuguang Lu. Tel: 13918719179. Web: www.mifanmama.com. Email: [email protected]