Monday, December 08, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Kathryn and Sarah started nursery school at a Catholic school in our neighborhood this week. They were apprehensive the first day, as you can tell in this picture snapped just before leaving, but by the end of the week they were much more relaxed! Of course it helps to have your sister in your class.:-). We think they will have a great year!
This is Finley Rose-Lin (SW I, Changsha, Hunan, Nov. 18, 2002) on her first day of Second Grade at Immaculate Conception School in Annandale, NJ.
Has it already been almost six (REALLY great) years?
Best to all the proud families.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
CONGRATULATION! HAPPY 2nd ANNIVERSARY!
It's hard to believe 2 years passed since we met our precious girls. Lili-Cai is doing great, she has a great sense of humor and is an overall cheerful little girl. She loves her pre-school and playing outside with all the neighbor kids. At the moment she is also very excited to meet (shortly) her new sister.
Love to all the girls and families from Lili-Cai + Cornelia + Marcel
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
Today we went to the Shanghai Zoo. We saw everything there, and my favorites were the pandas and the tigers, Mom's favorites were the monkeys.
We went to a Japanese lunch and I had really good beef. After lunch we went to the 400 year old Yu Garden and then the Shanghai Old Bazaar. The Bazaar is over 200 years old. We did a lot of shopping, and Dad did a lot of bargaining with the vendors. Then we drove through the Bund which is a famous architectural area in Shanghai, and we saw the Hero's Monument.
We went back to the Xintiandi Pedestrian Area for dinner and ate at an outside table. It's been a great trip, but we're all looking forward to going back home tomorrow.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Shanghai - Wednesday
Today we went (on a 2-hour drive) to the orphanage where I got to meet the same Director who was there 13 years ago when I was there, and she remembered me! We had lunch with her and I thought everyone was really nice. They had a really nice banner that said "Welcome Zhang Nan to the Parents Home" (Zhang Nan was my Chinese name). I had my picture taken with 4 other children that were also there in 1995.
The Director gave me a jade pig necklace since I was born in the Year of the Pig, and 2 Olympic pens. I brought her a suitcase of baby clothes (from Jennifer & Anna Marie) and a package of diapers. We also gave her a photo album of pictures of me from over the past 13 years. The Assistant Director rode with us to see the town of Zhang Jia Gang and then we went to Nan Feng Zhen which is the actual town (village) that I'm from. He showed us the "finding place" which was a small road that doesn't even have a name. I didn't' think that much about it at the time (I was tired & just woke up from a nap in the car) but now I'm glad we saw it. It was pretty neat.
To follow along on Andy's China adventure, please click here.
We arrived in Shanghai today. It took about an hour to drive into the city where we had lunch, then went to see the Oriental Pearl Tower which is the 3rd tallest tower in the world. Great views! We went up to the viewing area where we could see our hotel and all the skyscrapers in the city. Mom was terrified of the height. We could also see the Shanghai World Financial Center which is the tallest building in China and among the tallest in the world. After the viewing area we went down to the base of the tower and went to the museum about ancient Shanghai.Then we went to Xintiandi pedestrian area for the architecture. My parents said it looked a lot like a European street but I didn't know for sure because I've never been to Europe.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Xian - Monday
Today on our way to see the Terracotta Soldier Museum we stopped at a factory that makes terracotta soldiers. I got to make a soldier with clay and a mold. Mervyn gave us some history on the Qin Dynasty - Qin took the throne as King at age 13 and assumed power at 22. He then conquered the other 6 states of China and declared himself the first Emperor at age 39 under unified China. China is named after Qin, and the Chinese name for China means "Middle Kingdom." He planned his mausoleum and ordered 720,000 slaves to make the terracotta army of over 8,000 soldiers to guard him in the afterlife which for Qin came at age 50. Each soldier is an individual with a different face. Qin died before the mausoleum was completed. After he was buried with this army the peasants rebelled and destroyed most of the terracotta soldiers. The site was discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well, and every evening when the museum (which was built on the site) closes and archaeologists reconstruct the statues.
Next we went to the Huaqing Hot Springs which were the Emperor's Garden and bathing palace. The hot springs are dried up, so we could not get in them. The Emperor had a big pool called the Star Pool which was open & when he bathed he could see the stars.
We're going to bed early tonight because we're getting up early tomorrow to fly to Shanghai.
To follow along on Andy's adventures, please click here.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Xian - Sunday
We left Beijing on another beautiful, clear day this morning. We were met in Xian by our guide, Mervin, which means "to keep a low profile" in Chinese. Mervin gave us some background & history on Xian and pointed out a couple of Emperor's mausoleums from the Ming Dynasty. We went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda where we saw real Buddhist monks. This Pagoda was build around 700AD during the Tang Dynasty. We also saw people lighting candles, incense, and bowing to the Buddha statues.
After that we went to the city wall of Xian which has an 8 mile perimeter. We rented 2 bikes (one was a tandem) and rode all the way around which took over an hour, but was a lot of fun.
For dinner Mervin took us to a famous dumpling restaurant - Xian is famous for it's dumplings & noodles, and I really, really like dumplings. I think they served us 18 different kinds, and they were decorated in different shapes (the duck dumpling looked like a duck).
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Today we went to a Pearl factory where they harvest fresh water pearls and make jewelry. I picked an oyster that she opened - it was a 7 year old oyster and there were 10 pearls inside, we each got to keep one. 7 years old is considered a baby oyster and the pearls were not precious. We learned of the 4 different colors of fresh water pearls.
Then we went to the Summer Palace which is where the Emperors stayed on their summer vacations. It was a very large garden on a big lake, also where the Pearl Factory gets their oysters. There was a long corridor with hundreds of painted pictures. Thousands of tourists were visiting the Palace and many rented paddle boats on the lake. We took a dragon boat across the lake. Dad made a friend at the Palace - a little boy asked him where we were from, what hotel we're staying at, do we like Beijing (yes), and are we staying for the Olympics (no). He spoke good English for a little Chinese boy.
After lunch we went on a Hutong tour and rode in a rickshaw which is like a tricycle with a bench for two in back - Mom & I rode in one and Dad rode in the other with Nancy, our Hutong guide. The Hutongs are several homes with a shared courtyard in back. Hutong is the Mongolian name for water well which is how the villages were created. We invited in to one Hutong home and met the lady who lived there and visited with her in their courtyard. The family were artists, her husband had a studio in the front and he is a paper cutter. I bought a tiger painting on a scroll that was made by her brother.
At the end of the day Jonathon took us to a grocery store that was a lot like a Walmart back home. On the drive home we saw sites of 2 more Olympic venues - one was for basketball, and the other was for soccer. We have free time this afternoon and tonight, and I'd like to go to Pizza Hut...we call that comfort food.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Beijing - Olympic Update
A few observations on the Olympic activity that we've noticed in the area - yesterday we drove past the new stadium, a fantastic architectural building that looks a bit like a bird's nest and can seat 90,000 people. Also drove past the huge indoor aquatic center for swimming & diving. At the Great Wall we saw the finish line for a bike race or possibly the triathlon. There were also about 20 Olympic volunteers in blue wind suits coming down the wall while we were going up. We saw members of the Croatia team at the garden area of the Forbidden City. The Olympic mascots, statues of different games, Olympic flags & banners stating "One World, One Dream" are EVERYWHERE. At the jade factory yesterday we were told that the Olympic medals would, for the first time, be encircled with a ring of jade.
Last night on CNN we heard reports of the poor air quality. However, the air here is MUCH better quality than it was in Hong Kong, and yesterday it was quite clear. Today it's even better with clear blue, sunny skies. - Hank
To follow Andy's trip to China, click here.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Beijing - Friday
Today we went to a jade factory and learned about the 3 different types of Jade. I thought it was really cool how intricate the carvings were, and we saw the carvers in action. In the store some of the sales people were making paper airplanes, so I made one, too. They thought it was pretty neat and laughed, so I made them an origami crane before we left.
Next we went to the Great Wall. We were concerned because the forecast was for rain, but the weather was perfect & clear. There are 1600 steps to the top of the wall. Mom & I didn't make it all the way to the top, but Dad did. Then he RAN all the way down. We were all amazed at how they got all the bricks that high up the mountain.
After lunch we went to the Ming Tombs and walked the sacred pathways which is a mile long. There are 13 Ming Emperors buried there from 1409 to 1644.
Before dinner we saw a Chinese acrobat show which was one impossible feat after another that they made look easy, plus lots of music, and laser lights. Tomorrow is our last day in Beijing, then we fly to Xian.
Posted by Andy at 5:40 AM 0 comments
Beijing - Thursday - Adoption Day!
Today we went to Tienanmen Square. Our guide, Jonathon, told us it is the largest square in the world. Jonathon also told us it's said that 1 million Chinese could stand in the square...or 500,000 Americans...or 2 million Japanese. Jonathon and my Dad joke around together. One building has the mausoleum of Mao Zedong, and another has a large poster with his picture on it. The square was quite crowded with lots of tourists and was decorated for the Olympics.
Then we walked under the street to the Forbidden City. It was forbidden because common people couldn't enter it. Most of the walls were red, and there were several courtyards before we actually entered the City. There are almost 1,000 buildings, and it was home to 24 Emperors over 2 dynasty's.
After a traditional Chinese lunch we went to a silk factory to see how silk is made and how strong the silk fiber is. Dad bought me a silk embroidered dragon for my room.
Then we we went to the Temple of Heaven. I thought was neat how the temple was built symbolically. It is a circle that represents the Heavens, surrounded by a square that represents Earth. The levels of the temple have pillars representing 4 at the top level for the 4 seasons, then 12 on the next level representing the 12 months, then 12 on the lowest level representing the 12 parts of the days. There are 360 banisters around the temple to represent the 360 degrees in a circle. We walked a lot today.
We went back to our hotel for a short rest. I played Scrabble with Dad - he won. Jonathon & Yao (our driver) picked us up for a traditional Chinese dinner and then a Chinese Kung Fu show. It was like a play with a story and some singing, but it had real Kung Fu moves. I liked it - it was exciting, entertaining & cultural. Best of all, it was in English.
Posted by Andy at 5:20 AM 0
To follow Andy's blog, click here.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
To read Andy's blog, please click here.
We got up very early and found the Flying Pan for breakfast. It was very American - I had pancakes, eggs & bacon, and hot chocolate. It was great. Then we took a taxi to Victoria's Peak. We took a nature walk which was very hilly, but overcast & smoggy so the visibility of the city was poor. Next we took the tram down the mountain. It was fast at times and had to slow down on steep hills.
Next we took a taxi to the Star Ferry Pier. We got there at 9AM and nothing opened until around Ten so we found an air conditioned mall and mall-walked. We found our favorite store, Watson's, and made our 1st of many purchases today. Watson's is a drug store. We're also finding that most people speak some English. When the Ferry office opened we bought a half-day pass for the Star Ferry to tour Victoria Harbour. On the Kowloon Peninsula part of the tour we saw the Bruce Lee & Jackie Chan stars, like on Hollywood Boulevard. It was after that I had a very bloody nose, probably from the pollution. Mom ran out of Kleenex and a very nice lady gave us a pack (she didn't speak any English). Dad made 3 or 4 trips to Watsons for Kleenex and other items. When it finally stopped we decided to head back to our hotel where Daddy napped and I played Nintendo. We went for dinner at Big Eddie's for American food, possibly our last of this trip. Early tomorrow morning we fly out to Beijing.
To read Andy's blog, please click HERE.
When we arrived in Hong Kong we took an express train to our hotel. It went really fast - faster than the cars we passed.
Hong Kong is very crowded, hazy & smoggy. We ate dumplings for dinner and went to bed early about 4PM Hong Kong time. We woke up at 3AM and couldn't go back to sleep, but we all feel rested and ready to explore the city today.
To read Andy's blog, please click HERE.
Today we went to Niagara Falls. The actual falls were really big and amazing. We got up really close to the falls and I saw how fast the water was moving, it was really cool. We also went to a cool Lego place. There were lots of Star Wars space ships and 19 Lego trains all running. They even had the Falls built all out of Legos.
After the Falls we drove to the CN Tower which is currently the tallest tower in the world. The 3rd tallest tower is in Shanghai, the Pearl of the Orient. We're supposed to see it next week
Tomorrow we are flying to Hong Kong. I hope they have food on the flight.
To read Andy's blog, please click on http://andytravelstochina.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I'd like to thank Mr. Wu with Gladney for helping my parents put this trip together. I'll post after the trip to let you know how much fun we had.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
We are always thankful for everyone at Gladney, who helped transform us from a happy couple to a happy family of four. Sarah is from Changsha, Hunan; Gladney adoption: 2/28/00; birthday: 05/28/99
Thanks so much,
Susan and David Friday
"MARY McFADDEN AWARD
2008 Recipient: Sarah Friday - Third Grade - Cathy Erlandson, teacher
Parents: David and Susan Friday
The Mary McFadden Award is given to a Lower School student who exhibits the
same enthusiasm for learning, compassion for others, and joy of life that
Mary McFadden brought to the Trinity campus for 32 years. The Lower School
faculty chooses the recipient."
Sunday May 25, 2008 & Monday May 26, 2008
First Days and Impressions
I arrived at the orphanage with my bags and was greeted by one of the administrative workers, Pei Lei. After treating me to dinner at the orphanage’s cafeteria, she helped me settle in at a nearby hotel Jin Jiang Inn. The hotel is a simple 3-5 minute walk from the orphanage so it is very convenient. The next day, I went to the Tianjin Children’s Home and was introduced to Madame Feng. She welcomed me to the orphanage and then had Pan Lao Shi help me settle in at the orphanage. He assigned me to help with the 4-8 year olds. I walked into the classroom and was introduced to Yin Lao Shi and her two teacher assistants. The children in the room were all dressed up in costumes and they were absolutely adorable. Some of them were dressed in shining clothes as if they were super stars. Others were dressed up as little bears. I soon learned that they were preparing for their performance on May 31 to celebrate China’s Children’s Day on June 1. I accompanied them to the auditorium, a little nervous still since everyone around me already knew each other and I was a complete stranger. I felt a great sense of community and love emanating from the orphanage’s yard as care workers seemed to know each of the children by name and vice versa. The kids, with big smiles on their faces, went into the auditorium and prepared to perform the “Three Little Bears,” a Korean children’s song. As I watched six of them with their little, furry ears on top of their heads, I knew that I would love the next few weeks I’d be spending at the Tianjin Children’s Home.
Tuesday May 27, 2008
My schedule at the Tianjin Children’s Home was set and I was to go to the orphanage Monday through Fridays from 9am-5pm. After lunch, when the kids took their naps, I could take a break as well. My days ended after sending the kids onto the bus that would bring them back to their foster families. As I interacted with the kids, I began to understand each of their stories. Zhang Yu Xiang was deaf. Unlike the other kids who could mutter words to get across what they wanted to say and how they felt, Zhang Yu Xiang had to use sign language and his tears. Xiao Xiao, a 3-year-old and the youngest boy in Class 1, had a cleft palette and difficulties eating and drinking. Qi Qi and Jing Jing both had a bad leg and limped as they walked. Neither can run nor jump very well. Xi Xi and Bing Bing both recently had surgeries for their cleft palettes and could not speak very clearly. Their words are somewhat slurred. Tian Tian’s ears were somewhat deformed, but she was full of life and could talk fluidly and clearly. Each of these children had a story of their own, and I looked forward to better understanding their stories in the coming weeks.
Wednesday May 28, 2008
First English Lesson Attempt
I tried to teach the kids some English today and they found it quite difficult to learn. All of them have very short attention spans and it was somewhat difficult to keep them in their seats. The orphanage had some simple Chinese/English books to describe colors, shapes, and animals. I tried to teach the children some vocabulary, but they forgot very quickly. I would point to the red square on the page and ask, “这是什么颜色? (What color is this?)” and some of the children would be able to respond, “红色 (Red).” After repeating this question and answer a few times, I would ask the children again “这是什么颜色?” and some kids would once again say “红色.” When I asked them how to say it in English, they would look at me with their big, round baby eyes with confused expressions on their faces. These kids spend most of their days playing. The teacher usually teaches them a hand game/exercise, helps them draw, or teaches them a children’s rhyme/song. Although the kids are all full of life, to be honest, they are also somewhat out of control. When visitors stop by and bring new toys, the boys all try to grab the new toy. Despite how many times the teachers try to discipline the children and ask them to play nicely together, the boys nonetheless just forcefully grab toys out of each other’s hands. The two girls whose legs are handicapped and little Tian Tian (who’s one of the smallest and thinnest children in the class) are often left to play with older, more worn-out toys or have to wait until the bigger children are done playing with the new. As I watched the children play, I would ask myself, “How do you go about caring for orphans?” You want to be able to shower them with love, but at the same time, you can’t let them become too out of control (为所欲为), which can be a tough balance to achieve.
Saturday May 31, 2008
“我们是福娃, 共享祖国情” (We are children of fortune, cared for by our motherland)
Today was the day of the children’s performance in celebration of Children’s Day “六一儿童节.” There were a number of festivities planned and the entire auditorium was packed with people. Madame Feng introduced the event and spoke of the orphanage and its children. She said that simply in May, a month with 31 days, the orphanage took in 24 more orphans. The orphanage currently has over 700 children, some of which live with foster families. The event featured the orphanage’s children singing, dancing, and telling jokes. Class 1’s children performed “Three Little Bears,” and as Shi Tou was performing, the furry ears put on top of his head were beginning to fall. With a frown on his face as he danced, he kept trying to keep the little furry ears in position on top of his head. The audience chuckled and then Madame Feng went up to help Shi Tou adjust his furry ears so they’d stay on top of his head. They also prayed for the victims of the Sichuan Quake, singing “感恩的心” and “祈祷.” The children’s handmade artworks were displayed as well. The event ended with the kids celebrating the upcoming arrival of the Olympics in China. The children carried pom-poms and hula hoops to create the five circles of the Olympic symbol, dancing to the Chinese song “Hero.”
Monday June 2, 2008
I went with the kids today to do their morning exercises (早操). Jing Jing, the one with a bad leg, tried doing the exercises, but I could tell that it was difficult for her to move around. She was very excited though and would jump around with everyone else. Her jumping, however, soon made her fall. She bruised her arm, but quickly got up and continued trying to do more exercises. Jing Jing’s eyes are somewhat crossed as well, and in some ways makes walking even more difficult for her. After finishing their morning exercises, the children went to the orphanage’s playground (乐园). The kids were able to ride around on bicycles and play in a little small children’s house. Afterwards, we went back inside and I drew with the children. Qi Qi really likes to draw and I helped her draw bunnies. Jing Jing was drawing with us as well and was really just drawing scribbles. I asked her, “What are you drawing Jing Jing?” And then Qi Qi cut in and said, “她瞎画呢! (She’s just randomly drawing things!)”
Wednesday June 4, 2008
Some of the children at the orphanage sometimes remind me of a movie I saw when I was young, “Little Rascals.” The children at the Tianjin Children’s Home are a lively and active bunch, but at the same time, their tempers are short and some of them are not happy unless they get their way, always. When Xi Xi is unhappy, he takes off his shows, throws them into the air, and then lies on the floor, throwing a tantrum. They each have their own unique personalities though. Vivienne, a volunteer at the orphanage from Switzerland, and I like to call Zhang Yu Xiang the “policeman.” Although he is deaf, he is very aware of his surroundings. When any of the other children bully each other, he stands up for the underdog. When it’s time to clean-up the toys and legos on the ground, Zhang Yu Xiang is usually the quickest to put away his toys and makes sure the other children do as well. When standing in line to leave or go eat lunch, he makes sure the other kids stay in line and holds the doors for them as well. He keeps a watchful eye on the other children, although he has his moments when he’s misbehaving as well. Shi Tou is quite a character as well. He’s a clever one. When someone else has a toy he wants, he starts yelling, “大家一起玩儿! 玩具要大家一起玩儿! (Let’s play together! Toys are for everyone to play!)” However, when he is in possession of the toy, he doesn’t like to share either. Ning Ning is also another playful little boy. He is full of energy and often gets himself into trouble by either spilling water on the ground, drawing with black crayons on the floor and walls, or touching the teacher’s personal items in the classroom. The other children have picked him out as the troublemaker and when something bad happens and the teacher asks who did it, the children all go “Da Bai Ning (Big White Ning!)” because he is somewhat pale and a bit taller than some of the other children in the class.
Friday June 6, 2008
English Lesson Attempt #2: Can I go play?
Today I tried to teach one of the boys, Shi Tou, how to speak some English since he was going to the U.S. soon. His adoptive parents are scheduled to come in July. Shi Tou was misbehaving and Yin Lao Shi made him sit down in a seat. He would then ask her, “尹老师, 我能去玩儿吗? (Can I go play?)” Yin Lao Shi would say, learn how to say that phrase in English from Jie Jie (the children called me “older sister”) first. I would tell Shi Tou, repeat after me: “Can I go play?” After repeating that phrase numerous times, I thought Shi Tou had finally learned it. I then told him to ask Yin Lao Shi if he could go play in English. Shi Tou said, “尹老师, 我能去玩儿吗?” Yin Lao Shi then said “No!” I then asked Shi Tou again how to say “我能去玩儿吗?” in English. And he couldn’t reply. I asked him, how do you say “玩” in English? And he said, “不累! (bu lei),” his way of pronouncing “play.” And I told him, “No! 不是不累! 是 Play!...P-l-a-y!” enunciating the syllables and sounds for him. After repeating it numerous times again, Shi Tou began to whine and said, “我学会了! 可以去玩儿了吗?” I told him to ask Yin Lao Shi in English if he could go play. Shi Tou then said, “尹老师, 我能
Monday, June 09, 2008
Despite the incredible heat, fun was had by all of the families attending the 10th annual picnic at the Larchmont Yacht Club in New York. Bossy Frog performed music for the children, the bouncy house was a big hit, and the face painting, balloon animals, outdoor games, DJ and a raffle were also quite popular. It was great to see old friends and meet new people!
Featured in the pictures are Gongzhan Wu with Beth Anne, Jeff and Whitney
Gina Pariani and Mary Chapman from the New York Office.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Dear 2007 CCAA Campers and Parents:
I am finally able to give you an update on children you met in the Tianjin Children’s Home.
CCAA has just announced that they are making arrangements for surgery and medical care for three special needs children. One of them is Guo Jing, who we said we would help. The other two are Wu Shang (age 10) and Chen Li Wen (age 9). All three girls have been in wheelchairs for years, but they might be able to stand up as a result of successful surgery. Remember, that was our goal!
All three girls have received a thorough examination and assessment by specialists. On Wednesday, they went to the hospital. For more detailed information, please visit CCAA’s website:
Let's give them our support. Let's make sure they know they are in our hearts, our thoughts, and our prayers. While donations from families are always welcome, even small gestures of affection from you campers will make these girls very happy. Perhaps you would like to send a letter, a note, or a card. If you do, please make it personal. For example, you might want to draw a picture inside or enclose a poem. Be creative.
Maybe you have a small gift you would like to send that will let the girls know we are with them in heart and in spirit. If you do, or if you would like to send a letter, please let me know by reply. You can send what you have to me at the address below. I will make sure it finds its way to the girls.
If you are interested in making a donation, please make a check payable to Gladney Center and earmarked “2007 camp”, I will make sure they are used on the three girls.
I am proud of all of you for your generosity, and proud to be your friend.
Asian Program Manager
& Director, New York Office
Gladney Center for Adoption
363 Seventh Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10001
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Here in Sichuan, Sunday was filled with both sadness and hope. For those
parents who lost their only child, it was a day of immeasurable anguish.
For those families still whole or partially intact, it was a time of sad
resolve to get on with the task of rebuilding their lives and the lives of
their children. For children who survived but lost a parent, schoolmates,
teachers, home, the holiday toys and candies were small comfort. Still,
life goes on and the children will slowly begin to heal. They will need
It is now reported that 7,000 children died on May 12.
But many, many thousands more survived. Thankfully, the numbers truly
orphaned are much smaller than first believed.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs told us that 420 children are
confirmed orphaned. The government continues to search for living
relatives of another 1072. Those numbers, though, represent only a small
portion of the many thousands of children who need help.
Children who have lost one parent. Children grieving for their lost
parents even as they have been reunited with their grandparents or other
extended family. The estimated 16,000 children who were injured during the
quakes. And countless others children who are struggling to deal
emotionally with the horror they have experienced. These are children
whose lives were really just beginning—and now must begin again.
Thanks to your generosity, we have helped the surviving children by
bringing them much-needed supplies, including supplies to the stranded
children in the isolated mountains of Aba, where roads were buried under
landslides, and to the children of Leigu, whose villages were threatened
by flood. Our sincere thanks to everyone who helped us buy and get those
supplies to the children quickly in the chaotic first days. Thanks to the
amazing crew at Gung Ho Films, to the extraordinary Sichuan volunteers
from Silk Road Telecommunications, to our volunteer shoppers and shippers
in Chengdu and around China, and to our extraordinary donors who provided
the funds that enabled us to act so quickly to get the supplies to the
Now that we have completed that first phase of our earthquake relief
effort, it is time for Half the Sky to help the youngest survivors begin
to heal emotionally. Though we have never provided emotional support for
children in the wake of a natural disaster, we have over the last decade
provided that support for 15,000 children living in social welfare
institutions who have lost their families - delivering such care is the
essence of Half the Sky.
In preparation for our first workshop with the US National Center for
School Crisis and Bereavement, our field staff spent last observing and
interacting with children living in temporary shelters and welfare
institutions. While the world is rejoicing that they survived, many of
these children are mourning the friends and family members who did not and
wondering why they are the “lucky” ones. Others are in shock, unable to
face the pain of loss of those they depended on most.
At a shelter in Chengdu, one middle schooler who was evacuated from
Wenchuan told our team:
“The first floor of the school disappeared. The second floor became the
first floor. Our teachers were too busy helping us to have time for their
own children. We carried two injured students from the collapsed building
to a tent on a mountain top. We stayed in the mountains after that and
lived on potatoes that weren’t ripe and shared 2-3 Bottles of water among
more than 60 of us every day. Later, two students died in the tent. It
rained and rained. We knew there could be landslides because we knew a big
aftershock could happen at any time, but we didn’t know what to fear any
At at the Sichuan Children’s Activity Center west of Chengdu, our team
learned about a boy who feels guilty that he was not able to save the girl
that sat next to him in class. When the building was about to collapse,
the boy managed to run out of the building. Some of his classmates were
not so lucky and he tried pulling his classmate whose leg was stuck in the
rubble. Unfortunately he did not succeed and the girl later died. Now he
feels guilty that he could not save his friend and talks about it over and
And our staff filed this heartbreaking report from the Zitong Children’s
“A boy arrived at the institution with a bandage on one side of his
head.The staff gave him a name and estimated that he is two years old.
Every time the institution gate opens he runs to it and says “baba,”
“mama,” the only words he knows. The expression of his face is one of
sadness and fear without security. There was no smile on this face during
the whole time we were there.”
On Monday, in cooperation with the MCA and the National Center for School
Crisis and Bereavement, we held our first Sichuan Caregiver Training Project
workshop at the Chengdu CWI, a milestone on that long road to bring
emotional relief to the children. While we tried to keep the first
workshop small, because we knew that we needed to have time and
interactive discussion in order to make plans for the next steps, it was
not possible. The need for caregiver support is just too great. By the
workshop’s second day, we included 90 volunteers who’d been working in
shelters as well as administrators from the two largest shelters in
Chengdu. There will be no shortage of trainees as our field staff and
experts head out into hard-hit areas today.
The questions from caregivers and volunteers were challenging. Do we try
to gently tell the children who cling to the hope that their parents are
alive that they are instead likely dead? How do we reach children who have
shut down, refusing to talk about what they went through yet screaming in
the night from memories too horrible to consider during the day? How can
we help a child who won’t eat, a child who lives in her imagination? Do we
let them see us cry? How do we keep our own sanity as we try to be there
for the children? Sadly, the experts in child trauma during disaster have
heard the questions and have seen the suffering many times before. They
were able to provide tools for caregivers and for children, as well as
reassurance that they will be there to help as the healing process begins.
Yesterday, after the workshop, we visited a shelter in Chengdu. Children
told us of seeing their friends killed, of waking up next to dead bodies,
of their fear of falling asleep, their fear of being indoors.
We know that with this workshop our new work is just beginning….we have
pledged to work with other organizations and with government to help the
children in Sichuan for as long as help is needed. There is no question
that this will be a long process and that we will need the help of all of
you, who have already given so much.
We know you want to help because our mailboxes are full of offers of
tents, blankets, diapers, and strong backs to help rebuild. These are
wonderful offers but we cannot accept them now that we have moved on to
the work of helping children emotionally.
What we do need is financial support and your trust that we are exploring
and will develop and carry out a plan for maximum impact on children’s
lives. In turn, we commit to report in detail, and often, how we are using
the resources you are so generously supplying. By the end of this week,
we expect to be able to report more fully on our midterm and long term
plans in Sichuan. We anticipate that the work may last for 2-3 years. As
the emergency eases, we will make certain that Half the Sky’s direct
involvement will be limited, as it must, by our mission (providing
nurturing care for orphaned children) but we will do our best to
facilitate involvement of other organizations that can help meet the needs
of affected children in the broader population.
Every year, in June, we launch a Children’s Day campaign to raise funds to
bring Half the Sky’s programs to more children in the fall. This year we
must do even more. We have to help the children even as we continue to run
our programs and open new, comprehensive Blue Sky Model Centers. Never
have we needed your help more.
Of the US$600,000 you have so generously committed to help the children of
Sichuan, we have spent approximately one-half on emergency relief. We
should have a full accounting very soon. We do not yet know what the cost
of our long-term effort to rebuild lives will be, but hope to have more
information as the plans develop and the numbers of children in need of
emotional assistance are clearer.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
A truckful load of donated medicines, veggie and fruit juices, etc. are being unloaded.
Donated goods at the relief station in Dujiangyan
Xiong Qiang, a resident in Chengdu, is a Gladney volunteer helping our earthquake relief operation. His reports on the situation from the earthquake epicenter have been very useful in our decision on how we should use our relief funds effectively.
In the past week or so, he has been in close contact with Dujiangyan county government. He was instructed to contact the Nanchong Social Welfare Institute in Nanchong county and the Guangyuan Social Welfare Institute in Guangyuan city. According to Xiong Qiang, Nanchong SWI’s damage is minimal, but all children from Guangyuan SWI has been moved out the damaged building, and living in the open space. Guangyuan SWI needs everything!!! They particularly requested for TENTS. They need 200 TENTS.
On May 25, Xiong Qiang and I talked on the phone for hours. We finally agreed that we will purchase the following materials with the Gladney earthquake relief fund:
1) Vegetable and fruit juice – Earthquake victims need food, water and nutrition. Vegetable and fruit juice serves that purpose better than pure water or dry food.
2) Medicines (anti-biotic, anti-flu, etc.) – For wounded and sick victims due to raining, hot, humid weather, etc.
3) Tents – Tens of thousands of earthquake victims are living in tents.
On May 26, our relief funds were wired to Chengdu. Xiong Qiang received the wired funds in the morning of May 28. He then lost no time and went to purchase medicine worth 26,000RMB, approximately $4,000, a lot of veggie and fruit juices, and 60 tents, that were all he could get from the shop that day.
With the instruction of Chengdu city government, he and three other volunteers drove to Dujiangyan with the veggie and fruit juices and medicines. The juices were delivered to a rescue station, and the medicines were shipped to the local hospital. According to the local rescue command office, use of medicines need to get the approval by medical personals.
On May 29, Xiong Qiang and his team left Dujiangyan to Guangyuan with a carful load of 61 tents and 100 gifts to children from the Guanyuan SWI. They were very thoughtful and bought gifts for children as June 1 is the International Children’s Day in China, a holiday for children throughout China. Xiong Qiang and his friends want children from the epicenter know that they have not been forgotten, and that they can celebrate the holiday with children from the rest of the country. Each gift bag includes food, candy, biscuits, towels, etc. At the Guangyuan SWI, our representative Xiong Qiang met Director Zhang, who told thanked Xiong Qiang for what Gladney has donated. Director Zhang also mentioned that Guangyuan city is assessing the damage in Qingchuang county, which is administratively part of the Guangzhou city. Xiong Qiang made Director Zhang to promise that they will let us know once the assessment is completed, and what the need is.
Asian Program Manager
& Director, New York Office
Gladney Center for Adoption
363 Seventh Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10001