Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The little things in life.........

Some little things we just take for granted..........

After a crazy run round a wholesale market to buy things needed for our special children I stopped to ask Helen if there was anything else in particular we could take for the foster mothers that would make their lives easier.

Her answer was very simple - PAMPERS!

 So we shopped China style, took our van straight to the nappy street
 (Ok, diapers for you Americans ;-), asked for several large packs of XL Pampers.
                         They were instantly collected from the store & motorbiked to our van with a smile :-)
                                                             even hand delivered......
                                               Now, that's what I call service!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

However on a serious note, I was astonished at how expensive they were, more expensive than at home!!!
Helen explained that the foster mothers would be delighted, as it is so hard to care for the toilet needs of our older special children without good nappies...and they just can't afford to buy them.
As we are now in Winter and the homes where these children live will be cold, it is just awful to think of them being cold and wet without proper nappies. The foster mamas even economise by placing cheap nappies inside their precious Pampers ( removed after soiling) to prolong their life and keep their children comfortable and dry for longer!!!!!!!

So after a chat with Helen this week we decided that we would try to fund £50 a month to provide Pampers for each child in our New Hope programme.

I always worry when we make these decisions , thinking of how we can afford it?
I really don't know why??????

This morning I opened an envelope from a lovely friend with a cheque for £50 for Hope4China.
First month of Pampers for our children!!!!!!!!
Thanks Elaine
You are an answer to prayer :-)

Now to the rest of the prayer...we have 11 more months to cover for 2011 to keep these special children dry and warm.......

Please if you are able, make a donation large or small to our Pampers Fund using the Paypal Button at the top of the page to keep our special children warm and dry, especially over the cold winter months.

Thank you if you can help...please feel free to share :-)

Thank you !!!!!!
In 12 hours we received all the money we need for nappies for the year!!!!!!!
Thanks just does not seem enough...speechless xxx

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Celebrations........Teddy Bears Picnic...........Desheng

        After our inspirational Hopes and Dreams with the girls, it was time for the Teddy Bear's Picnic...

If you go down to Desheng today,

You're sure of a big surprise.

If you go down to Desheng today,

You'd better go in disguise.

For every bear that ever there was

Will gather there for certain because

Today's the day the Teddy Bears have their Picnic.

...and the girls all settled around our Parachute ( Picnic Table :-), wondering what on earth we were up to.....

 Our rendition of the song was not too brilliant.....,
and we had to explain what a picnic was........
but they soon got the idea...
and finally
all the Teddy Bears sent from fantastic sponsors around the world,
 special ones gifted from Build-a Bear, Glasgow and Edinburgh,
and some extras bought in China.....

                                                               lovingly Arranged,


        Squished ....

                                        ....were given out to our special Guangxi Girls at last!!!!!

                ( Thanks to Andrea and girls for giving out Teddies, and Papparrazzi Manna behind the camera:-), Ellen and Shawn for keeping everything (wee ones) going, Karl and Ossi for doing what the men do best :-)

It was, as always, a great relief to know that each girl had her Teddy Bear..and that no-one was missed out!!

Then the fun started as they rushed to choose outfits for their Teddy Bears...some things are just wonderful to experience, and to see these young girls, and not so young girls, rushing to dress their special Teddies in all the outfits lovingly provided by so many...........was just so heartwarming!

Wish you could have seen it :-)

Some girls found some very strange things.......

                                                         to explain....:-)

 It was also amazing to see that no-one would put their Teddy down..
they were held and cuddled for the rest of our time together.
Truly wonderful!!!!!!

In fact, I have already received so many letters back from the girls
talking about how special these Teddies are to them............

"Before I go to bed, I will hold my bear toy in my arm and think. Mr.Xu had asked me whether I hold my bear toy to cry when I am unhappy. I said I would not. I put it on my bed, when I see it I will think about you and be happy. "

"The winter is coming. I dressed my Tippy(The little bear you give me ) with as much clothes as me. Please keep you warm all the time."

I love how they all have names too!!!!!!

It is, as always,  the simple things which mean so much.......

Each year since 2005 we have celebrated our Birthdays together as we know that many of the girls do not have these celebrations. Each year there is the same excitement as the older girls arrange the candles and organise the cutting and sharing.
It is always so wonderful to hear them singing Happy Birthday in Chinese and English as we celebrate together

( Our Desheng girls seemed to have lots of fun together with lollipops and teddies)

                     All too soon, it was that time - the Photoshoot - to record the event for 2010

                                  and then the tearful part, as we all say goodbye for another year.....
It was a wonderul Teddy Bear's Picnic and Birthday party
celebrating the Hopes and Dreams of some pretty special girls,
 made possible by some amazing sponsors!

( especially the the ones who came all the way to visit!)

and of course our amazing friend who makes it ALL possible!!!!!!

We are looking forward to next year already :-)

Linda, Manna, Andrea, Ellen and Shawn

Friday, December 10, 2010

Desheng Hopes and Dreams........

Having arrived in Hechi and had a leisurely morning to recover, we are now excited to be heading to Desheng to share the Hopes and Dreams of our special Desheng Girls
- two of our High School girls even joined us early for breakfast, fearing they would be unable to get time off school to join us.
Never fear, Matthew just called their teachers and they were given special dispensation to come with us!!!!!

Gathering the Team at Hechi Hotel...ready for the 30 min drive to Desheng..well most of them :-)

And before we know it, there we are at the gates of Desheng Primary School. Having some time to wait for the rest of the team, it was lovely just to wander around and watch the children as they played outside - they are doing some exercise with their teacher here.....

                                       Of course as soon as they were aware they had visitors...
 it was a different story!!!!
 When the bell sounded for the end of morning lessons, some walked sedately down with their teacher
                                               to meet the parents waiting at the gates
                                                   Others had a bit more fun along the way

                                                    LOVE these wee excited faces :-)

But, WHERE is Ossi?

                                                        A Penny for these thoughts........

After all the other children had left, we gathered together all our special girls
from Desheng Primary and Middle school.
 It was so good to see them all again and see how much they had grown since last year.
Sometimes it was hard to recognise them?
               Then the girls  piled into the vans  as we all made our way downtown to 
"our" restaurant"
 to meet the rest of the girls from around the Desheng area
 When we read the reports the girls write each year, it is amazing how often they refer to this yearly event as their Highlight. Each year we meet, we bring letters, photos, gifts from sponsors. We celebrate all our Birthdays together and just enjoy sharing time with our daughters who spent their early years in Desheng and the older Desheng girls whom we have come to know and never ceases to amaze me at such times, how small our world can be, and yet how amazingly vast!
                              How amazing that we have all been brought together in this way?

Before we left for China, knowing how many girls we would visit, and of course remembering our first time visitors, we made sure we had a name label for EVERYONE so we could all enjoy getting to know each other.

So, it didn't take long for this lovely girl to find her sponsor visiting her for the very first time. Andrea has sent so many lovely letters, photos and gifts, building up the special relationship with this lovely girl....but how much more exciting to meet in the flesh!
                                           Special, special moment...the expression on that sweet face.......
 "Needless to say it was fabulous to meet in person - particularly touching moment when Teng Fang and Lucie exchanged the wish stars that Ellen had helped them make." Andrea 
 ...and the joy and excitement on this little face as she meets the sponsors she has communicated with for years
 .                ..this time last year, this lovely girl was at our Desheng party, one of our girls.
       This year she is working here - very capable - obviously in management - and doing a great job!!!!!

Mrs Manna and her family meeting "their girls" for the first time - I know it was so special for all of them...but have to say these meetings were one of the highlights of my whole trip :-)
The whole purpose of Hope4China bring Hope...and these visits are just the icing on the cake!!!!!!
It is so important to these girls to know that they are special and valuable - sponsors coming all the way to visit them is just the job!!!!!!

And I would just like at this point to thank ALL the amazing sponsors who give these girls the priceless gift of Hope for the future ( maybe YOU will be with us, next year ;-)

Now time to relax and eat with new friends, and old :-)

After all the introductions, and eating together, it was time to move on to a new area in our work.

Ellen explains......
All of us grow up formulating some sort of dream, a vision of how we’d like our future to unfold. When we are young, that dream generally knows no bounds, and we aren’t yet obstructed by the boundaries of wealth or education or talent. We just ... ‘dream’ ... and tuck our hopes into our heart

For our GGEF girls, their sponsorships help keep their ‘dreams’ alive, longer than we can appreciate. We were fortunate to be in the company of over 130 GGEF girls during our recent visit to Guangxi, and their inspiration and ‘hopes’ emanated from them like a beacon. Perhaps most remarkable is their insight and perseverance to be successful, and to make the most of the life they have been dealt.

Part of our intention during our visit with the girls was to engage them in a ‘life vision’ exercise ... something they would create that would visually represent their desires, their hopes, their dreams, and their ‘focus’ for their future. We wanted to help ‘plant some seeds’ for them, and to remind them that what they hold in their hearts is possible, regardless of the discouragement they may encounter along the way.

To achieve this, I knew that we would need a ‘visual’ exercise to help the girls take what was held in their hearts, and give it ‘life’, some sense of reality. In my coaching work, one of the first activities I ask people to engage in is to create a ‘collage’ – a type of ‘Dream Board or Vision Board’. I ask them to choose images, words, prose, symbols, etc. that are meaningful to them either in terms of what they want to preserve in their life, or what they want to create for their life. This ‘visual’ translates into a constant reminder to strive towards those desires.
We had limited time with the GGEF girls, so I created a scaled down version which came in the form of a small 3 inch by 3 inch little book, folded in an origami style that the girls filled with their hopes and dreams. In this form, the girls could carry it with them, or keep it safe somewhere private. I prepared dozens of phrases, words, quotes and life values in mandarin that they could choose from (and I included the English translation so that we could understand the dreams held by the girls). Additionally, many of the girls frequently wrote their own messages in their books. We provided plenty of colourful stickers to complement the girls’ Hopes and Dreams.

The result was quite rewarding as we listened to the girls take turns explaining how they chose to complete the activity, and why they selected some of the life values and principles that they did. Many of the GGEF girls shared their creation publicly; for others the exercise was handled with a more private sense of pride. Even our own girls created their ‘Hopes and Dreams’ booklets!

For me, watching the degree of eagerness, creativity and joy among the girls as they created their ‘life visions’ brought a sense of validation that regardless of where we are in the world, we all have dreams and we all have a heart that hopes they will one day come true.

It was wonderful to watch as Ellen led the girls through these activities...and it was fantastic to know that we could share in a little part of our girls Hopes and Dreams.........