May 29, 2008

Received travel approval!

Psalm 107:8-9 - Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

We received our travel approval on May 27th! We will be flying off to Hong Kong on June 12th (back on June 29th) and will meet Josiah on June 16th, the day after Father's Day. We leave only 2 weeks from today! We will post a more detailed itinerary as we receive information. Print Friendly and PDF

May 21, 2008

Day 111 - Half the Sky Update - May 20

We're on day 111 of our wait for Josiah. Our wait for travel approval began May 6. Our agency said we should hear something in 2-3 weeks. So, it looks like we may not travel until late June or early July. At least this way, Steve will not have to take one of his vacation days b/c of July 4th. :-)

Letter from Half the Sky:

Dear Friends,

As I delay writing this report a bit longer each day, I realize that, likeso many, I find it harder and harder to read or write those grim statistics or tell the sad stories. We wish we could be done with this death and disaster and start to move on. But still the numbers come.

There are 34,073 people confirmed dead, 245,108 injured, still more than 35,000 still missing.

Yesterday, after those three silent minutes in Sichuan, people began tocall out, “Rebuild! Rebuild!” Today, when I was feeling I couldn’t openanother casualty report, I read instead a report about new babies bornduring and right after the quake. They have names like ‘Li Zhen’(Earthquake) and ‘Born in a Tent’ and ‘Long March.’ They, like all thesurvivors, will carry these terrible days with them always. But theirlives are just beginning. For them and for all of the children whosurvived, Sichuan will begin to rebuild.

As hope of finding more survivors fades, we find hope in each bit of goodnews –

During the past week we managed to reach every single orphanage in thehardest-hit areas but one - Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. Today we finally made contact. They said, “The institution buildings areno longer safe to live in. All the children live in tents. The governmentprovides us with enough food and water and daily necessities. Now we onlyworry how and when we can possibly rebuild.”

Of the 24 children (all of whom were from hard-hit Anxian County) who wereported were brought to Mianyang Zitong SWI because they were newlyorphaned, I am very happy to tell you that 13 of them were reunited withrelatives.

The children of Suining SWI have now been able to move back into theirorphanage building.

More displaced children are arriving daily at shelters in Chengdu, but noone is giving up on finding living relatives yet. Yesterday, 70 childrenwere brought to a large hospital in Chengdu for urgent treatment. Some ofthem had joyful reunions with family, but of course, not all. One veryyoung girl signed her own consent form to have surgery on her broken arm. Ma Lang wrote, “She was a sweet and tough girl, and the doctors, nurses,and volunteers loved her very much.”

Ma Lang and two other HTS staff are now in Mianyang and we expect morenews from them soon. Meanwhile, our relief operation is going into fullswing, with tents, tarps, medicines, beds, blankets, rice, diapers, food,clothing and baby formula moving in and out of the Chengdu CWI forimmediate delivery to distressed areas.

As we get closer to realizing our small part of meeting the basicchallenges of shelter and emergency supplies, it is time to embark on themost critical project for the long term – helping the children heal and goon with life. This is, of course, why Half the Sky exists and how ourorganization can best help Sichuan’s children rebuild. Now we will begin the process of training caregivers, foster parents, shelter workers andvolunteers of all backgrounds to work with newly orphaned and displacedchildren.

We believe our long experience working with children orphaned by AIDS andother children who were not infants when they lost their parents has givenus a solid foundation for this work. But this week we are recruiting ateam of pediatric psychologists, trauma specialsts and social workers tohelp us adjust our training methods to this special circumstance. (If youare, or know of, a Mandarin-speaking professional working in this field who would like to volunteer for this project, please let me know!)Within two weeks, Half the Sky’s entire staff of field supervisors will beworking with caregivers and new foster parents all around Sichuan. Our work is just beginning. Thank you so much for making it possible!

More news soon.... Print Friendly and PDF

May 16, 2008

Today's letter from Half the Sky

Isaiah 54:10 - Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

I wanted to include the maps below again to show where the earthquake was and how far Josiah is from it. Click on this link to see a larger copy of the first map.$File/rw_EQ_chn080516.pdf?OpenElement It's a really good map that shows specifically where the destruction happened, where lives were lost and where people are still trapped.

The earthquake was in central Sichuan (brown). Josiah lives in southern Henan (also brown). Sheehan lived in Shaanxi (purple). I heard through my Xi'an Yahoo group that the children at Sheehan's old orphanage were evacuated, 12 children to a crib, but everyone was ok, nobody hurt:

Josiah lives in Xinyang, in the south of Henan. We will travel to Zhengzhou (north central) and then hopefully to his orphanage in Xinyang when we go.

Here is another letter from Half the Sky. Jenny mentions that 24 more children were brought to one of the orphanages because they are now orphans due to the earthquake.

Dear Friends,

I dearly wish I had more good news to report. The very best thing I cantell you is that we have not had a single report of injuries from thewelfare institutions.

As of this morning (Friday) there were 19,509 people confirmed dead. The State Council today said there will likely be more than 50,000. Today’sgovernment report describes one terrible scene after another: thousands homeless, thousands missing, thousands injured, thousands trapped or buried alive. Hope for survivors is dimming. There is an urgent call for body bags to prevent the spread of disease. There have been over 4,400aftershocks.

HTS Director, Child Development, Ma Lang has arrived in Chengdu and sendsthis note: I am deeply touched by your moral and emotional support. I only slept twoof the past thirty hours. The first thing I did after landing was todonate some medicine to the Chengdu Red Cross. It was very much appreciated – exactly what was needed. They gave me a wish list forfurther donations: antibiotics for children and adults, medicine fordiarrhea, cold capsules (not instant medicines that must be mixed inwater), bandages, gauze, tape, iodine, cotton swabs, herbal medicine tostop bleeding and some for pain relief. Other much-needed donationsinclude tents, tarpaulins, warm clothes and shoes. People in Chengdu aredoing everything they can to help with the earthquake rescue. I saw allsorts of vehicles carrying things to the donation centers. I registeredfor blood donation and was put on the waiting list – the blood center wasoverloaded with donated blood and it’s difficult to transport the blood tothe hardest-hit areas. More to come… Lang

Here is the confirmed information we have regarding welfare institutions: The following institutions not mentioned in yesterday’s note suffered noserious damage:

Chengdu 2nd SWI, Chengdu 3rd SWI, Ziyang SWI, Neijing CWI, Chengdu SOSchildren’s village, Leshan SWI, Ganzi CWI, Guang’an SWI, Suining SWI

The following report damage, but, again, no injuries. Your generousdonations will help meet all of these requests for assistance:

Bazhon CWI – Severe damage to building; children are fine.
Meishan SWI – Cracks in buildings, have evacuated all children (50+) totents. They have adequate food, water and clothes but request 20 cribsand bedding.
Guangyuan SWI – Damaged buildings, all children have been in tents for 4-5days, often in the blazing sun. They request food, baby formula water,diapers, bedding and other daily necessities. They urgently need drugsand food supplements to protect against disease and heatstroke.
Nanchong SWI – There was substantial damage to buildings, all children(100+, more than half under 6 years-old) are living in tents. They needmore tents, disposable diapers, children’s clothing, wagons, cribs andbedding.
Deyang CWI – Dormitory for school-age children was severely damaged. Although the other buildings seem fine, pending inspection, all childrenand staff have been moved to tents. There has been constant rain and muchthat was pulled from the buildings has been ruined. They request beddingand children’s clothing. They still have disposable diapers left from ourassistance during the winter storms but will be running out of those aswell as infant formula in the coming days.
Mianyang Zitong CWI (update) – Children have been moved back from themilitary base to a safe building in the institution. There is adequatefood and water but they request clothes, bedding, infant formula, diapersand medicine for colds. They are now caring for 66 children, 23 of themunder 2 years. Sadly, 24 new orphans – earthquake survivors - arrived at the institutionyesterday.

We are still unable to reach these orphanages: Abazhou CWI (52 children)and Mianzhu SWI

Please give what you can to help the children who survive go on with theirlives.If you would like to donate to Half the Sky’s Children’s Earthquake Fund, it would be great if you would do so at Global Giving. My apologies forgiving incorrect information yesterday; the Ford Motor Company isgenerously matching EMPLOYEE gifts to Global Giving, not ALL! Still, itis an easy and convenient way to make a donation and helps HTS by handlingprocessing of your gifts. Now maybe some other corporation would like tostep up and match ALL donations?!
If you prefer to donate directly to Half the Sky, of course that’s fine.Here are the various ways: You can donate by calling Half the Sky (+1 510525 3377) or on our website:'s+Earthquake+Fund

Thank you for your tremendous support. Although it is heartbreaking to write these reports, we are so honored to be in a position to help during this terrible time.

with love,
Jenny Bowen

Half the Sky was created in order to enrich the lives and enhance the prospects for orphaned children in China. We establish and operate infant nurture and preschool programs, provide personalized learning for older children and establish loving permanent family care and guidance for children with disabilities. It is our goal to ensure that every orphaned child has a caring adult in her life and a chance at a bright future.

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May 13, 2008

Earthquake in China

Here is an email I received this morning from the organization that oversees Josiah's home. Josiah is far (based on the map on google, it looks to be at least 1000 miles away) from the epicenter.

Dear Friends,
We have received many emails and calls about the terrible earthquake thatstruck Sichuan and Chongqing yesterday. We have reached the threeorphanages where Half the Sky operates programs: Chengdu, Chongqing and Yibin. All is well. At each place, the children were all evacuated untilthe tremors passed. The buildings suffered no great damage. And no childwas injured.We will reach out to other welfare institutions in the province today. Should we learn of any problems or earthquake-related needs, I’ll postanother note.

Some of you have also written regarding the EV71 hand-foot-mouth virusthat has affected many, particularly young children, in several provinces.The orphanages are taking special precautions and no child in aninstitution has been reported infected. We are monitoring this also.

While Half the Sky exists first and foremost to provide nurturing care andeducation to orphaned children, we are pleased to be in a position to bethe eyes and ears on the ground in China for all of you who have suchconcern for all aspects of the children's welfare. We are so grateful tothose of you who make our presence in China possible.

with love, Jenny

Jenny Bowen
Executive Director
Half the Sky Foundation Print Friendly and PDF

May 06, 2008

Day 96 - We got LOA!!!

We got the call from our agency today that our letter of acceptance (LOA) arrived. They will overnight it and we sign it and send it back and then we wait for our travel approval (TA) from China. Then our agency will set up an appointment with the consulate in China and they will give us our travel dates. Then we will book our flight. It's likely that we will travel in June. We'll post as soon as we here the dates! :-) Print Friendly and PDF

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