Monday, July 18, 2011

Early Intervention........New Hope.......Wonderful Opportunity to give back...

New Hope for Special Children exists to enhance the life of children born in China with special needs of varying kinds. One of our aims is also to show families around that it is possible to be able to keep a child born with such needs, for that child to grow and be loved in his/her own home and reach their fullest potential with help and support provided.

Helen works with children from Grace-Hope Foster care programmes to provide training & therapy, love, support and encouragement to foster families and children with profound additional needs.
These children have been abandoned by parents who have perhaps been overwhelmed by the needs, lack of money to deal with them, lack of support from family members where there is still stigma attached to such needs...........
We are stepping into the breach to show how these children can be loved, cared for and encouraged to reach their full potential with the right support.

Only this week Helen sent this video clip of parents of our New Hope children in the Grace-Hope Foster Care programme, which was shown on national TV in China. This is showing parents in society that help is out there, and encourages them to believe that they too can help their child with special needs.

The work done by the staff in Angel house is
( and deserves a page all of its own - later!)

BUT this week we have been given the opportunity to
 "put our money where our mouths are" 
with the news that a young Jingxi  mother of 10month old twins,
 one with cerebral palsy, 
has been abandoned by her husband and in-laws 
and has lost her job because she needs to care full time for her baby. 


                                                Because she is determined to keep her baby!!!!!!!

     She does not have the means to provide the treatment necessary, but desperately wants to help her child.

Grace-Hope in conjunction with Angel House have put together an emergency package which will help the baby over 3 months at a cost of £700/$1200 in total. After this period monthly visits to Nanning should be enough for mother and baby to thrive.
This is the first time we have gone out on a limb and promised hope and treatment without having the necessary funds, but just feel that it is so important to meet with this mother at her point of need, before she and her child become another sad statistic........
She is already hopeful and greatly encouraged by the support she has been shown, and we pray that with financial support this can continue........

A Grace-Hope donor has already provided money for special formula to build up the little one, 

We have already raised £458/$749......thanks to all who have donated!

 All we need now is around £242/$395!!!!!

This is the difference between this courageous mother having hope that she can keep and provide for her baby,
or that baby becoming one more precious soul growing up wondering WHY?

I know that within the adoption community this will be a situation close to our hearts, and I know that we will be able to find the money to help this mother and child.

Please if you are able to help in any way, little or large, you can go to Grace-Hope Website; click on


                          Then click on the link for Jamie's CP Rehabilitation Fund on the right hand side.

                  If you are in the UK, you can click on the Paypal Donate Button on

or send a cheque to 
38 Garvock Hill
KY12 7UU

I know we can do it!!!!!!!!!!

Please feel free to share wherever you think families might help.
It does take a village.............

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Yizhou Girls Create Their 'Hope'ful Vision

More than twenty years ago I read that each of us will touch the lives of at least 10,000 people in our lifetime. Ten thousand. At that time, email had just about entered the scene in a moderate way, and the explosion of the internet was taking swift baby steps. Even in today’s ‘instant communication’, for each of us to impact the lives of 10,000 others seems an arduous possibility, so twenty years ago it could easily have been dismissed as wild fantasy.

Fast forward to 2011 and I am in awe at how 'spot on' this prediction was then. When I consider how each of us learns something and then we pass that knowledge along to someone else, our influence builds as those individuals pass it along, and so on. Before long, our inspiration is lingering in a stranger’s thoughts without us being the slightest bit aware. So, when we consider it in this way, then 10,000 lives to influence doesn’t seem such a challenge after all.

For me, this notion came to life when my 5-year old daughter and I travelled to Guangxi with Hope4China last October. I discovered that God had indeed placed some of the world’s most graced and splendid children in Yizhou. If ever there was a case for influencing lives beyond our day-to-day interactions, it could be found in the love, gratitude and desperate friendships that the Yizhou girls longed to forge with each of us who were blessed to make the journey to their corner of the world.

For months before departing on our visit to China, I had often pondered whether or not I would really be able to ‘make a difference’. I felt somewhat haunted by that task, and the notion that I was a woman who had grown up her entire life in the privilege of the western culture, in a comfortable middle-class environment compounded my inner questions. Personally, I never wondered whether or not my family would continue to send me to school; it was just assumed. I never wondered who would look after me; I was in an intact family. I never wondered where my parents were at night or if they were safe; they were always home after a day’s work. And I never wondered whether or not I would grow up to be able to look after myself; it was just assumed that I would. I took a lot of basic assumptions about my future for granted.  

 So I found myself asking that internal question of ‘who was I’ to trek to China and influence young women to have an optimistic, hopeful and ambitious view of their future? Who was I to impose my privileged outlook on their lives, particularly as I would soon return home to England and it would all be just a memory? Who was I indeed! That thought preoccupied me on my flight home, and it has held fast in my heart these 9 months since our privileged visit in Guangxi. And what I keep coming back to is that I am a woman who struggles every day with gleaning the courage to ‘show up’ as who I am in this world, rather than who the world expects me to be in any given moment. So while I  may have more of the superficial, physical luxuries than my friends in Yizhou, I have more in common with those beautiful souls than I could have realized. 

Happy, joyful moments ... the stuff of memories!
For rather than the issue being how many lives could 'I' touch ... the reality is that is that it was MY life that was touched 10,000 times over by the love, modesty and pure gratitude from each and every Yizhou girl. 

The Hope4China team, with Linda's inspiration, achieves some amazing outcomes. During this particular visit, we wanted the girls to have an opportunity to capture a stronger sense of self-esteem as a result of being with them. 

Hopes. Dreams. Aspirations. Desires.
This was a pioneering concept for an audience of girls who live according to firm expectations that they exist to look after their families and others. Where, here in the West, we encourage our children to get the best education they can so that they can build the most successful and prosperous careers possible ... our Yizhou girls have a ‘life vision’ that, for most, means they dream of making just enough money to look after their parents or those who care for them. Though a few brave souls expressed the desire to travel and be educated in the West, by and large, our Yizhou girls have modest dreams.

... And they are admirable dreams, indeed.
Our Teddy Bear Picnics were as much a hit in Yizhou as they were elsewhere throughout Guangxi, 

Annaliesa building her own memories ..

 Special connections for all the girls!

         ... and the girls absolutely loved receiving letters from their sponsors. 

Love, Faith, Hope, Joy

They were enthralled with news from the West and honoured that so many people took the time to write to them. A few words on notepaper has gone a long way to swell the hearts and the happiness of the Yizhou girls, and their broad smiles tell a very compelling story.

(These are all letters from pupils at Buckhaven High School who have been delighted to receive beautiful replies from the girls)

Creating the Visions of the Future
  I am particularly blessed to have been able to work closely with the girls by guiding them through an introspective and creative exercise; an activity I have used with clients with great success for a very long time. Sometimes I call this exercise a ‘Treasure Map’ because it’s a process that helps to us discover the principles and tenets with which we forge our future. And in the process, we need to identify the journey, the path we’ll take in order to achieve what we believe will fulfil us. In my general work with people, I inspire them to ‘dream and visualize’ the possibilities for their life, to notice real or imagined obstacles but not to dwell on them. Then, inspiration takes over to help them feel empowered to start making gradual changes that initiate positive change.

 All well and good for our Western lifestyles. But for our Yizhou girls, I knew that the process needed to be a bit less reflective and philosophical. This was likely the very first time anyone had ever asked them to think about themselves for a change, to take a few minutes to consider aspects of themselves for which they felt pride and gratitude. So this first step was challenging enough for an audience that devotes their lives to everyone else. Then it was compounded when I asked them to consider areas about their lives that they wished to develop or ‘make happen’ in the future. Talk about running before you can walk!

Thoughtful about the future ...
 Matthew did a marvellous job translating these very profound instructions to the girls. We knew that the message needed to seem attainable for the girls. Asking them to grasp for stars wasn’t really appropriate – but teaching them that taking care of themselves and focussing on their own needs from time to time was, in fact, essential if they expected to be able to fulfil their hopes to take care of their families, and their future.

(It was interesting to see the TV crews for China TV wanting to know WHY we had come all this way to help the girls!)

So much joy ... so much celebration ... so much love!
 This was not a privileged audience of children and teens. At least not in the sense that those of us in the West might define as privileged. Many of our Yizhou girls come from broken families, many are living with relatives because their parents are either deceased or living far away trying to earn a decent living (which means they can’t see their children more than perhaps once a year). Others come from economically poor family environments, and some from ‘emotionally’ poor family environments.

 Celebrating another year of birthdays, and friendships becoming more seasoned.

But the thing that was crystal clear for me in meeting these girls is that they are evidence that every single human soul on this planet yearns for their lives to be meaningful somehow. And each of these girls share a genuine, deep gratitude for the blessings that Hope4China showers on them through sponsorships, donations, resources provided and periodic visits from the Hope4China team. All of this brings them a huge reservoir of physical and emotional connection - deeply needed hugs, cuddles, kisses, caring touches that tell them ‘I believe in YOU’ ... and the unabashed message that the world beyond Yizhou cares about them. 

Building on Hopes and Dreams
The 'Life Vision' activity was designed in both English and Mandarin, so that those of us from the West could appreciate the very personal messages that the girls were choosing for themselves. Each of the girls pursued this activity with determination and joy. It was heartwarming to see them excited about something that tugged at their hearts. I created small sized origami style booklets so that the girls could keep their ‘hopes and dreams’ tucked into a small source, party for easy storing and partly to protect their privacy. 

Generally I would suggest to a client in the West that they keep their ‘treasure map’ on display someplace where they’ll see it every day, as a sort of reinforcement of what they are wanting to create in their lives. But I knew that the girls in Yizhou would need something more modest, and the little books were perfect souvenirs.

The girls chose thoughtful sentiments to express what was important to them, concepts such as ‘faith, love, and hope; strength to overcome difficulties; remaining refined and elegant throughout life; being and feeling blessed; thriving and being prosperous; and caring about others’. They engaged in this activity quite pensive and with great enthusiasm. But one theme has remained in my thoughts, a theme that seemed predominant amongst many of the girls and that is their selfless devotion to their families. For them to feel truly happy in life, they need to know that they have looked after their family. And this strong desire may come at the expense of their own dream for their life to ‘make a difference’. 

A Universal Language of the Heart
 And this is what lingers with me now that we have been back home for a while. In order to truly feel that your life will make a difference in the world, we need a place from which to begin. For our Yizhou girls, this place is ‘home’ and regardless of how pleasant or joyful we may judge their personal environments, I believe our Yizhou girls feel free to make a difference in the world, only when they have fulfilled their duty to make a difference to their family.

So. How, then, will our Yizhou girls possibly influence the lives of 10,000 during their lifetime when their greatest hope is to make sure their family, in their little corner of the world, is looked after?

Delightfully busy giving life to dreams!
It’s simply really. Many of us reading this story will be influenced by it’s message in different ways. Some of us will spread the word through our chats and conversations. Others will be more contemplative and wonder about things for a while before they make sense. Some will feel more connected to the needs of China’s children through Hope4China. Others may remember resources they can share. Perhaps others will inspire friends to become sponsors. Or, maybe like me, some of you will feel the impact by making changes in how you live your life. Whatever the influence sharing this story may have on you, one thing is crystal clear ... our Yizhou girls are made of the stuff that will assure they will never give up. Their hopes and dreams may sound different from yours and mine, but their passion for living and making a difference is just as eloquent and strong. 

Annaliesa and Mummy - Making our own, meaningful memories.

For me personally, each of the gorgeous souls I met in Yizhou eternally fills a memory in my soul where they will live on forever, and even my simplest act in the course of a normal day, in my normal life in England will be meaningful because I have tucked a piece of each and every one of those girls in my heart.

And I can never be the same person I was before I met them.

Our girls in their 'circle of love'
Margaret Mead, the highly respected (if not controversial) American anthropologist, reminds us that we should “never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” Some might say that it is those of us who travelled to China who changed the lives of our Yizhou girls. But I see things differently. I believe it is, in fact, our girls in Yizhou who have changed the world and made a difference ... because they have taught me (and perhaps you as well by coming along on this journey through reading this blog post), that making a difference is as easy as graciously accepting the love and gratitude that others wish to shower upon us.

The Gorgeous Souls of Yizhou spreading Joy!
 It’s always difficult to know just how much of an impact we have on people whether we spend a few minutes or a few decades in their lives. It’s not something that we generally talk about with each other. But time and time again, I am reminded that even a fleeting moment connecting with another person can make a difference of a lifetime. We just never know who will be one of those ten thousand lives. So I guess we should all just continue to be who we are, unique and remarkable ... just like everyone else in the world.

Thank you to every one of our beautiful and inspiring Yizhou girls. You have touched our lives immeasurably.

And thank you to every one of our sponsors. You are, through your own unique and thoughtful ways, changing the lives of our Yizhou girls so that they can take care of themselves first, in order for them to make a difference in the lives of their families.

To dream, we need to have courage. To have courage, we need to believe in our dreams.

with much gratitude,
(on behalf of the Hope4China Team)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


"The college entrance exams finished,I got a good grade.But I have trouble choosing my university. I want to go to TianJin University. I am not confident enough,I do not know whether I can be an architect in the future. TianJin has many old buldings, I hope my dream can come true,so that I can take many pictures and enjoy  the white world of snow in winter. But maybe it is difficult for me to see you if I go to TianJin. I will send you letters and email."

Wonderful words from a fantastic girl who has overcome many obstacles to get to this stage........

Recently she sent this beautiful book........

..expressing so eloquently the bond of friendship between girls and sponsors.

I know that she will be a wonderful Architect!!!!!!!!