An earthquake is terrifying for adults, so it’s hard to imagine how the terror and the devastation of the 7.1 Yushu earthquake would effect little children. I’ve told you before about 8-year-old Diji Bamao, who was pinned down when a tractor flipped over onto her, leaving her unable to walk.
Now, almost a year later, I want to give you an update on Bamao and also 7-year-old Baima, another little Tibetan girl from Yushu.
When Baima was two years old and got a high fever, a doctor in her village prescribed an injection which left her unable to walk. Because Yushu is so remote, medical skills and equipment are less advanced, so neither Bamao nor Baima received any formal rehabilitation.
The good news is that a few months ago, they visited a clinic in Yushu and met the rehabilitation consultant from Christian Action. After that consultation, my good friend Eva To be their sponsor, so in mid December 2010 the two girls, accompanied by their fathers, were transported to Xining Rehabilitation Centre. Xining is a remote city to us, but for the two village girls from extremely remote Yushu, life in Xining presented huge challenges. The culture, living environment and even the food are all different from their home town.
Baima has five siblings and she is the fourth child. Their parents always sleep with the children. At our Children’s Homes we usually care for orphaned or abandoned children, so it was very special for us to have a situation where Baima and her father were so worried about being separated at night that they both cried. Instead of full-time care, we arranged for the two girls to receive day training, so that they could stay with their own fathers at night.
It was sad to find that Bamao will never walk again due to the damage caused by the tractor. But she doesn’t give up and enjoys being taught how to take care of herself and do things like having a shower and dressing herself. She’s getting used to life in the Rehab Centre and she isn’t shy in front of strangers who don’t speak her dialect. The camera-man couldn’t communicate with her, but she understood, laughed and posed for the camera!
It was good to hear that Baima is expected to walk again if she receives proper training. She’s a smart child and has adapted well to the new environment in Xining.
Both girls are brave little fighters, and their fighting spirit is something that the earthquake could not take away. Of course we will always be supportive of both girls, and continue to provide them with whatever help will encourage them to remain strong and courageous.
Every year for the last twelve years I have travelled to Qinghai Province to participate in the meetings of a significant leadership group called the CPPCC – Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the CPPCC consists of representatives of the CPC, eight democratic parties, democrats with no party affiliations, various people's organizations, every ethnic group and all walks of life, compatriots from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, and returned overseas Chinese, as well as specially invited individuals, reflecting the interests of various social strata.
In 2010, I was appointed as the Convener of CPPCC members of Hong Kong and Macao (a total of 14 representatives) and in 2011 I was also appointed as the Deputy Officer of Committee for Liaison with Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Overseas Chinese and Foreign Affairs (a total of 30 persons)
As I attended these meetings in January, I was once again surprised that I have been given the honour of having a voice in the affairs of the government. So what has been achieved by spending time at these meetings?
I've submitted 15 proposals over the years and at least two of these proposals have been accepted and implemented.
My proposal this year was again aimed at improving the standard of welfare services in China. This is in line with the suggestion in 2006 by Mr Hu Jintao, the General Secretary, that welfare facilities should be improved so that orphaned and disabled children can grow happy and healthy under the same blue sky as other kids. A 'Blue Sky' Campaign was launched after his statement.
I have proposed that the management team of all social welfare organizations who serve those who have no ability to work, no income and no legal dependents ( the “Triple Emptiness”) should operate with subsidies from the government, and thus solve the headache of the pay and benefits of all management staff. Since these welfare organisations normally have very limited income, these subsidies will ensure that the standard of service by the organization will be steadily enhanced.
During the week of meetings in Xining I worked 12-15 hours a day. In between CPPCC meetings, I met with adoptive parents, China staff, the Social Worker’s Association, Yushu disaster relief partner agencies and so on. I also had a meeting at our Xining Children’s Home with the media.
Please pray for a good outcome for the children and the poor of Qinghai as a result of these strategic meetings.
Thank you and God bless you
Regular readers of this blog will remember the name Mark MacAlpine, who didn’t hesitate to ask his friends to sponsor him when he ran a half marathon to raise funds for our Children’s Homes. Like every good marathon athlete, it seems that Mark never gives up! He did the same thing again this year – and sent not one, but two letters to his friends. But he’s not worried about being too pushy, because he’s convinced of the need to help our helpless children.
Last year you sponsored me in the Standard Chartered Half-Marathon and we raised about HK$80,000. So far the operations on a little guy called Xiao Yang have come to about HK$60,000. He had spina bifida, hydrocephalus, club feet and urinary tract damage due to the spina bifida. Pretty bad start in life. In brief, operations to cure the spina bifida and hydrocephalus (fluid in the brain which swells the skull hugely if not drained) have been largely successful. He’s had two operations for the club foot and now he’s walking reasonably well. Soon, perhaps, he’ll be walking and running normally. He’s already having a go at football. Thanks!
The year before last the HK$70,000 raised saved the life of a 15-year-old girl called Douge by paying for her to come to HK and have a risky operation on the brain tumour which otherwise gave her 3 months to live. A lot of prayer no doubt helped the surgeon. You may have seen it reported in the newspapers. Read about Mark's prior runs
Now I am asking you to pledge your support again. The race is on Sunday 20th February starting at the excruciating time of 5.45 am. The second half of the 21-km race is going to be tough, but if there’s a lot of cash riding on it I’ll have good reason to complete! The money goes to Christian Action who run an orphanage in Xining and Yushu (where the earthquake happened in April last year) in Qinghai Province. I've also included the story of a boy called Ji Shan - if only for his smile after the right leg operation.
For now, just send a return e-mail saying how much you’ll pledge (and I’ll come asking for the cheque after the race!). It’ll be a great start to the Year of the Rabbit.
Best wishes for the Year of the Rabbit - kung hei faat choi, MarkMacAlpine
Mark sent his friends a follow up email to say HK$55,000 had come in with just one week to go. Now there are only FOUR DAYS to go – how about encouraging Mark by raising the donations to the same – or more – than last year’s figure of HK$80,000? I’m proud of my son Danial for wanting to give HK$300 from his lai see money for this great cause!
Thanks in anticipation of your generosity!
Chinese New Year is a wonderful 15 day celebration and I hope you're enjoying your holiday. We're making sure that our children in our Children's Homes in Qinghai are enjoying their Chinese New Year too!
Thank you for your love and support for these children who don't have families of their very own.
In honor of this festive occasion I invited one of our adoptive Mothers - Kathy Goedeken to share how she and her son Evan celebrated Chinese New Year in the US. Enjoy!
The Lunar New Year is a holiday that I added to my calendar when I decided to adopt a child from China. During the first two years when I was waiting to meet my child, I attended Lunar New Year celebrations with other American families who adopted children from China. I enjoyed talking with parents and seeing all of the beautiful little girls in their fancy Chinese silk dresses. It renewed my faith that I would also one day become a parent.
I had grown so frustrated and impatient during the third year of my long wait that I decided not to attend the New Year’s party. I didn’t think that I could bear seeing all of the adorable Chinese children with their doting parents, when I was so uncertain if I would ever get a referral to adopt.
I wish that I had known then that my soon-to-be-chosen-son was celebrating the New Year with his foster family in Xining. He was so excited to watch the New Year’s fireworks that he did a happy baby dance at 18 months old. I wish that I could have seen it! I am so grateful that he was part of a family and could enjoy this special holiday.
Last year, we celebrated our first New Year together with my parents and many other families with children from China. Evan was the first and only boy at the event. During the group photo, he sat in the middle of all the cute little girls wearing his gold Chinese silk outfit and laughed and laughed. It was a joyous moment and evening for both of us. It was a long time in the making, and I really savored it.
This year, we decorated our house for Lunar New Year and have read several books together about the holiday. Last weekend, Evan filled red envelopes with gold chocolate Chinese coins to give to his preschool classmates. I am taking the day off of work on Thursday to teach Evan’s preschool class about Lunar New Year. I will read several books about the holiday to the three-year-olds and show them the United States and China on the globe. They will make Lunar New Year crafts, eat rabbit-shaped crackers (for the Year of the Rabbit, of course!) and lucky oranges with cheater chopsticks, and have a parade behind a colorful dragon marionette. I am thankful for the opportunity to introduce Lunar New Year to Evan’s classmates. I want Evan to learn about his heritage and be proud to be Chinese-American.
On Saturday, Evan, my parents and I will celebrate the New Year again with local families who have adopted children from China. We are expecting a big crowd of over 120 people including another little boy who was adopted from China last summer by our friends. I wonder if both boys will sit next to each other in the middle of all the little girls and laugh and laugh together?
For my family, Lunar New Year is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Evan’s culture and spend time with family and friends. I also truly appreciate that I can finally celebrate it with my beautiful boy. During this holiday, I think about Evan’s nannies at the Xining Children’s Home where he spent his first Lunar New Year as a baby and his loving foster family who celebrated with him as a toddler. I am also thankful for the work of Christian Action and the donations of their supporters for my healthy, happy, smart, little boy.
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!