Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Full of Gratitude

I believe I have written before about the charity that I have been so blessed to work with. We are a very small charity, around 10 women, who work together to raise money to provide heart surgeries for children whose families don't have the miens, or to orphan children in the Jiangsu area.

This is how the group got started over 6 years ago after a couple of Expat women found a baby on the side of a road, in her own words:

"As incredible as this seems, the heartbreaking fact is that in China it is not uncommon practice to place unwanted children in the hands of fate. This little baby boy was only eight days old. Who would care for him and allow him to grow up? Once housed at the orphanage in Nanjing , medical examinations showed his heart was not functioning properly. Born ‘not perfect' made him an outcast in society.

We remember how he fought for his life, until his heart gave up two months later. But his short life had a deeper meaning, because of him we wanted to make a difference.

During the more frequent visits to the orphanage the caretakers told us that there were ten more kids like him suffering from heart malfunctions living in the same orphanage. Heart conditions are not visible and if they hadn't told us we would have never found out. There is quite a lot of medical help for orphans with visible medical conditions, however there is no support for orphans with heart problems. Even though the People's Republic of China has constantly improved support and healthcare for abandoned children over the past few years, these children awaited medical treatment that went beyond the orphanage's budget."-Hopeful Hearts web page

These ladies started Hopeful Hearts to help these ten orphan children. They worked hard to raise money for these ten children, and continued on, to help more children as the need arose. I have been able to work with this wonderful group for almost 3 years. Now, we help orphan children, but have been focusing on poor farmer families who have children with heart conditions. We want to help families stay together, as it is so much better for a child to have a Mother and Father who love them. Some of these farmers make less than 100.00 US per year, which is unbelievably poor even for Chinese standards. A heart surgery averages 3-5,000.00 US. Just this last week we celebrated the 100th surgery! This was such a huge event for us. This has been a wonderful year so far, but we have had many applications, and have had to turn away children. With the economic situation, it is becoming more difficult to raise money.

Yesterday, we had our Spring Hopeful Hearts luncheon. A local 5 star hotel, The Sofitel, works so well with us to put on a very nice buffet luncheon for the Expat women in Nanjing. We had a fashion show, put on by some of the expat women, directed by us Hopeful Hearts women. The ladies really love watching it. We make a little over half of an average surgery from the sale of the tickets, which is wonderful, but it is difficult to raise money. So, we told these ladies here in Nanjing about a couple of cases, about how these parents love their children just as much as you or I do. And then we asked them to give more if they could. To give up an afternoon of shopping, or a dinner at a western restaurant. And if they did this, then maybe we could raise enough to save a life from this luncheon. Do you know what these wonderful ladies did? They passed around our donation box and filled it... to just over the cost of a surgery! I am so overwhelmed and happy to be a part of that wonderful day, and a wonderful group of women.

If there are any children in the hospital, I try to go with Claudia to visit them. Today, we went to see three children who are in the hospital, and took these photos. They are beautiful. One boy is actually a young adult. Our policy is that we will still help someone who is over 18, if they have a congenital heart disease (they were born with it). It is a miracle Li Ping is still living at this age, having these complications for so long. He is from the Sichuan area. His mother has raised him alone, never having enough money to pay for his surgery. They heard about Hopeful Hearts when Amity (our "mother" charity group) was down helping with the earthquake disaster. Li-ping didn't even have the money to travel to Nanjing for his surgery. He was not able to have the surgery in his area because the expertise wasn't available. We found a hospital that could help cover the cost of his travel to Nanjing. Li Ping is a very polite young man and wanted a photo with Claudia and I. He now has a hope for the future!

Ding Fu-Kang is the son of a couple who are both deaf and dumb. They farm, and struggle to make ends meet. They have come up with as much as they can to pay for their son's surgery, but can't cover the cost. Hopeful Hearts will help them cover the rest of the cost

Li Ruichen's parents are farmers in a small village. He is the cutest little boy with really pinch-able cheeks!

I am so grateful to be a part of this. These children have changed my life. I am also so grateful for Heavenly Father, who listens when a couple of women in Nanjing, China pray for help to raise the funds for these sweet little children, and listen when we pray to steady the surgeons hands. Sometimes help has come through some of you. Thank you.