“I am leaving for China again in a few days, and when I return, our campaign for Hands of Hope will have come to an end. We are just $50,000 short of the $500,000 endowment needed to begin China’s Orphan Relief Fund.
I am leaving for China already emotionally drained, and tonight as I have been packing, I have been thinking non-stop about how important a national fund in China is.
When I go to China this time, I will visit a whole new group of orphanages. And the last few weeks have been filled with emotional pleas from these places asking for assistance. I have frantically tried to find medicines for an orphanage where the newborns are suffering from bloody diarrhea and dehydration. I have made phone call after phone call tracking down water purification units for an orphanage where all of their water comes from rusty and contaminated rain collection units, so the children are ill. I have made calls to hospitals for two precious toddlers to have needed eye surgery, most likely too late to save their vision, which would have easily been saved if the surgeries had been done as infants. And calls for even more surgeries for children who can’t walk, and for infants who are struggling to survive with defective hearts.
I have listened to orphanage directors ask for surgeries for ten year olds with unrepaired clefts. We are sending a cleft team to China in the spring, and I have already had to to tell the six orphanages in the region that the schedule is full to overflowing with 50 children…..and so their other children cannot be healed. I have made plans for a school where only 7 out of 110 children get education. I have received requests for situations that make me cry, from orphanages where there is no heat and no blankets and the children are freezing. I honestly feel like my heart will never be whole again.
We are building Hands of Hope to give all of the children above and the 1 million more exactly that……….a chance at HOPE. It is essential, pure and simple, that China begins a national orphan fund. Essential. Every day, all day…….I talk to donors and orphanages and businesses about the orphans in China. What I have learned, is that right now, it is very hard for an American company doing business in China to give large donations to American charities doing orphan work there. At first I didn’t understand that, but then they explained that if they give to an American charity, they are essentially telling China “we believe you have a huge problem that you can’t handle.” It would be an insult. And so they donate instead to the official Chinese approved charities, such as Project Hope and the China Disabled Persons Federation, and they give millions of dollars.! Millions. Major corporations have told me that if an Orphan Relief Fund existed IN China, they could finally give. Because it would be China’s fund, and it would be China saying “we want to give these kids every opportunity.” There would be no loss of face. The Orphan Relief Fund will open the door to those children like nothing else can. The main problem is that most corporations have written policies that they can’t fund endowments. They have pledged support for programs once it begins…..but it must begin some other way.
When I was first asked to get involved with raising the needed $500,000…….I didn’t even blink. That is the honest truth. Because I knew that if I had the $500,000 to give, I would have written a check that moment. Because I believe so fully that the children left behind are just as incredible and full of potential as my Anna. And I also know that China has never before asked adoptive parents for anything like this. Up until this past year, the only three things China had ever asked me about caring for an orphan were asked in a notary office: “Do you promise to love her and not forsake her?” ” Do you promise to educate her?” “Do you promise to treat her as your own child?” That is all China had ever asked of me after they handed me the most beautiful little baby in all the land.
And now…….some of the most influential people in China have agreed that an Orphan Relief Fund is needed. And they clearly stated in the charter that the needed endowment would most likely come from “warm hearted overseas parents”. They are asking for our help. Point blank. They are asking us to consider the million other children that share the same beginnings as our children, and they are asking us to help fund it. I don’t claim to know a lot about life, but I know one thing…….I love Anna with all my heart and soul, and I will forever be grateful to the country who allowed me the privilege of adopting her. They didn’t have to let me……they looked at my file and decided they could trust me with one of their children. And now…..in a letter to parents, Mr. Xu asks the same exact thing back to us. He asks us to trust China; to trust that they ! will implement the most comprehensive orphan fund in the world. How can we not? The alternative is to tell our children someday that the idea was once proposed, but that we didn’t care enough to start it.
I have been asked so many times if I really believe this fund will make a difference. I have asked question after question from everyone I come into contact with in China and in the American business community, and this is what I know is certain. Mr. Xu will chair the fund, and one of his roles is running the national lottery system, so when he pledges a portion of the national lottery for orphans, I think he is the man who can do it. Mr. Deng, who just won the UN peace prize for his work with the disabled in China….well, if you know Chinese history, you know he is royalty in China. I still remember the reaction I got in March when I mentioned to my taxi driver that I had dinner with Mr. Deng. He almost drove off the road. Every local government official I have met speaks of Deng Xiaoping’s son with such reverence, that I know without a doubt that when he pledges his support publicly to the newly formed Orphan Relief Fund……the compan! ies and citizens of China will take notice and listen. What have I learned through my work in China this past year? What I have learned is that 95% of your success there is in relationships and who you know. And the men who will lead this fund know the most powerful people and businessmen in China. I have no doubt at all that the Orphan Relief Fund will cause significant change.
And so one more time I am going to China. And I go this week knowing that the images I see will once again strip away another piece of my heart. And I will return home leaving behind tiny babies and pleading toddlers who are cold and hungry and sick and come back to my warm home where a loaded pantry is just a step away.
Can we come up with the final $50,000? We can if we all spread the word about Hands of Hope. This will be my last post on it. I will freely say now that I have not understood the reluctance of agencies to tell their families. It has both puzzled and deeply saddened me. We aren’t raising money for ourselves…….we are raising money for a fund that can touch more children than any other orphan program in history.
And so, for the final time, I will ask all of you…..if you take joy in tucking your child safely into a warm bed, if you feel pure wonder in being able to watch your child reach for the stars in a ballet recital or a school play, if you have a child who wraps their arms around your neck and fills you with so much joy that you think your heart is going to burst……….please take five minutes this weekend to email a few friends who might not have heard about Hands of Hope or your other email groups and tell them about it. Ask your agencies. It is time for all of us to take just five minutes out of our comfortable lives to make a difference. The children who are unseen deserve this one important chance.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring. Thank you for helping China……the country that all of us will forever be linked to……thank you for helping them achieve their dream of an Orphan Relief Fund.
If nothing else, please just send the link to Hands of Hope. I believe every family deserves a chance to decide if they want their child’s name honored on it. Please send your friends to Hands of Hope The final day to order a tile is February 14th.
And I also want to take just a moment to thank Lynn and Kari Fillmore of Angelcovers, who took on such a monumental task of taking orders and building the virtual wall. I can never repay them for their kindness.
Love Without Boundaries: Every Child Counts
Love Without Boundaries