Dec 18, 2009

My Soapbox gets Higher at Christmas Time.

Hello little blog,

Yesterday was the annual orphan Christmas party. Because of circumstances beyond our (HICF orphan ministry) control we were not allowed to have the party at the hospital that we frequent, but instead were told to plan it for an orphanage an hour away. I had never been to this particular orphanage before and was not sure what to expect. So, we planned the party like usual, collecting donations and gathering a crew of people to sing and spread holiday cheer.

The hospital workers rented a van and picked us up, which is always wonderful and 15 of us headed to the orphanage. We had been told that there would be 20 kids and that they would be ranging in age from babies to school age children who attend school, but when we arrived there were only 10 severely handicapped kids all under the age of 8. It was a little saddening because we had not been prepared for their handicaps and most of our toys were irrelevant for their abilities.

My sadness over this was soon squelched though. Usually at these parties there is a lot of undercover business that takes place. People wander around smiling and playing while me and the other leaders hone in on the orphanage workers and talk numbers - surgeries, needs, allocating money, etc. Yesterday we were able to secure a heater to replace the broken one in the orphanage.

We also were introduced to a 3 month old baby who needs heart surgery and apparently there is no money in the orphanage funds for him. We will begin by looking at the chrch budget and then we have 2 months before the planned surgery to see what we can do. I think there is not enough money in the budget but with a special offering the high price tag can be paid. I do not know where money comes from in the US for orphan medical care, but there seems to be a lack of funds here for the most needy children who have no chance at adoption.

It was an overall successful visit. The orphanage took us out to lunch to a "farmer food" restaurant where they wanted us to try the "local" food. The best thing was a dish of corn and sugar and Beijing duck! Beijing duck is such a delicacy I was so excited that they gave it to us.

It was wonderful to score more connections in that town with the orphanage and its employees, one of the women and I connected well, she even had me to an interview for the news in Chin.ese! That was crazy, talking into a microphone in Chi.nese about the chrch. Who knows where that will go. haha. I hope we can continue to have a relationship with this place.

Here are some photos. The most frustrating thing is that we are technically not allowed to take photos at the orphanages, so I have little documentation of my visits over the past year. These are taken stealthy or outside. It is good to know that some babies will be warm soon and that hopefully this child can get his heart surgery and live a long life. Every child deserves a chance at living, no matter where he is born or what condition he may have. This I place my life on.

The room at the orphanage with a broken heater. This will be replaced within the month by our biggest contributor. whooohooooo Hallelujah.

The main room of the orphanage in the chaos of the visitors. I got behind that man in the brown leather jacket because he was really angry people kept taking pictures. Take that, mean man.

(taken at the restaurant): Surgeon Yang, me, Caxie (my mentor from chrch), Li Na (Chin.ese mom, works at the hospital), Lin (Chin.ese big sis, works at the hospital), and Jane (helps to translate, from chrch). These are the people who make stuff happen. I am honored to be among them and learn from their example of social work and caring for children. Caxie is moving to the US on Christmas Day and I am taking over her role as coordinator. I'm scared, she has big shoes to fill. But these Chi.nese people are some of my favorite people in the world and I know everything will be okay. It always is.

Taken from my pocket, haha. The babies lined up to hear Christmas songs. The one in the yellow chair kept clapping and would put his arms in the air when the songs stopped, it was amazingly precious.

Please keep this orphanage in your thoughts. I used to think that huge social issues like child abandonment and parent-less children were something just to see on CNN or TIME magazine, but it's not. There are real issues that real people can solve in our own neighborhoods the whole year round. Let us remember this truth this holiday season, wherever we live.

cheers. xoxo.

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