Monday, October 26, 2009

Post-surgery, Chinese orphans rehabilitate at CHI's Beijing Hope House

On the last day of the three week trip exploring the projects made possible by the gifts from friends of Children's Hope, I spent a little time at Alenah's Home in Beijing for orphans who recently received surgery. For six months to a year, or even longer, these orphans have a place to recover. A new larger location is being rehabbed as I type, a temporary home for around 30 children. Please consider giving to the operation of the CHI Beijing- Alenah's Home. These are great kids who need time to heal.

Become a Partner of the Beijing Hope House

Friday, October 23, 2009

Old Beichuan Will Be Remembered; As Survivors Find a Way to Cope

Sometimes I cringed and sometimes I laughed while listening to earthquake survival stories from my dinner companions last night. Almost 18 months removed from the May 12, 2008 earthquake, residents of Sichuan province all have a story. One 60-year-old man, who admits he was frightened beyond belief, explained how the earth flowed like water below him. Worried in his fear that the ground would open up to swallow him, he chuckled as he recalled his attempts to grab the trunk of a tree, only to miss every time he reached out because the tree was moving so violently side to side.

Today it was only solemn disbelief as I looked from atop a mountainside lookout at the tomb of 30,000 people of Old Beichuan. While much of the rubble in the region west of Mianyang has been cleared and many families are now back in newly constructed homes, the government lets Old Beichuan sit as it did after the shaking from the 8.0 earthquake ended. It will stay as rubble in honor of all who are buried below it. A museum to honor all 80,000+ who died throughout Sichuan Province will also be erected next to the destroyed city.

Some six miles east, down the canyon, 50 cranes reach above the new apartment buildings being constructed for the new Old Beichuan. This will be home for the 70,000 residents who survived.

Children's Hope counselors are working to bring hope to surviving children and their families in the relocation camps. In seven Hope Centers throughout the earthquake affected region, earthquake orphans or children with one surviving parent have been given a shoulder to cry on and loving support for over a year.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Visiting Mianyang, in the heart of earthquake hit Sichuan

With a two hour flight west of Beijing early this morning, I was on time for lunch with a bunch of great kids at a Buddhist run orphanage. In this remote location south of Mianyang, the children are getting an excellent education by four retired school teachers. Several kids from this orphanage have gone on to universities. We worked off our lunch with several rounds of ping pong.

After an hour long drive back to the north of Mianyang, I met a little girl whose chance at ever walking may depend on us. This little 18-month-old orphan has severe club feet that need immediate attention. Because of the complexity of the surgeries, the Chinese government may not pay for the procedures. She'll have to be taken from Mianyang to a orthopedic specialist hospital in Beijing in order for this to be properly repaired. I will keep you up on the status of her surgery options.

Tomorrow I will visit one of the CHI - Hope Centers in the area near Mianyang that was devastated by the 2008 earthquake.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

China's Children still need You

From the narrow, crowded roads of Kakinada, India, I finally arrived to the broad streets of Beijing: Home of 16 million people and 4 million cars. With that many cars, it doesn't matter how wide the roads are, they get just as packed as the roads in Kakinada.

Although many of the cities of China are now huge modern metro regions, there are still numerous issues that Children's Hope is attacking for China's orphans and children from impoverished homes.

Today at a Beijing Hospital, that regularly performs some of the more complex surgeries for Children's Hope cases, I met Yun Lian, from an orphanage in Yunchen. She was brought to Beijing for a possible surgery to correct a previous operation on her Spina Bifida, first performed at a county hospital near her orphanage seven years ago. Over 450 surgeries for Chinese children have been completed in 2009 because of your great support. Many of these were life-saving heart surgeries. Some are life-changing like Yun Lian's.

In the northern reaches of Beijing, I went to the ErKang Hospital to see a program that is changing the lives of children born with Cerebral Palsy. Through this program, the parents of children with CP are learning the therapy they need to administer so their children will have better range of motion. One 14-year-old, who had never walked prior to the program, is now rambling down the halls of the hospital with a big smile on his face.

For many of the poor rural families who have one of the three million Chinese children with CP, therapy is not available in their area and they can't afford it even if it was. So this program houses the parents and the children at the hospital so the child can receive therapy and the parents can, at the same time, learn how to perform the therapy techniques back at home. The length of stay is determined by the severity of the child's CP.

It was heart warming to hear about the numerous children who, with only the beginnings of therapy, are making great progress.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

India: Cory concludes his stay in India with a Bountiful Harvest

I finished my last full day in India at the rice farming village of Siripurum. The village elders gathered around 200 women, with young children, to receive fresh produce and rice. The Children's Hope partners in India distributed hundreds of pounds of rice, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and green peppers. This program helps these families with added nutrition as they hold on for the rice harvest in December.

“There is a great need here and in most of the small rural villages,” Paparao Yeluchuri says. “If God provides the funds, we will go to many more villages.”

It costs over $500 each time Mission to The Nations runs this rice and produce giving project. The several feeding projects I witnessed serving the warm Upma, runs around $30. The joy in the eyes of those who are receiving this food is priceless.

Bring Relief to the Suffering of India

Saturday, October 17, 2009

India: Villagers Gather at the Well

Today I had the thrill to see our donor's gifts give added health to an entire community. As you can see in the video, village women were filling their stainless steel water pots with clean fresh safe drinking water. The well was bored a few months ago but the families are thrilled to see water borne illnesses being eliminated from their community. In contrast I shot video at a nearby village that does not have a well. The villagers were carrying their pots to the local muddy pond, shared with water buffalo, to get their day's water for cooking, bathing and cleaning clothes. These shallow wells are a miracle to the people who have access and it's almost a miracle that one can be bored for $650.
Bore a well in India

Friday, October 16, 2009

India’s Children from Poor Fishing Families Receive Medical Care and Education

After last evenings feeding program at a fishing village north of Kakinada, our partners in India, Mission to the Nations, kept me busy all day today. We first went to visit two of the 15 schools run for the 7000 children, from impoverished homes, who would not receive an education without this opportunity. Many donors have given in the past year to supply these children with books, notebooks and slates. Also, a number of these children are in the sponsorship program so their uniforms and funding for their education is provided.

The homes these children come from are extremely impoverished. I saw their neighborhoods when we visited the New Life orphanage and when the MTN staff held a mobile medical clinic for 150 people this evening.

The poorest of the poor in this area are fishing families. Those are the ones you see in line with their children to be examined by the doctor. A day out in the Bay of Bengal, on most days, does not provide much more than food for these families. On a good day, the fishermen can sell some of their catch. On a bad day, the children don’t eat. Even those good days don’t provide much.

India: Education Helps Pull These Children Out Of Poverty

These are photos of some of the 7000 children from impoverished homes in Kakinada, India, who receive a free education to help lift them out of poverty.
You can be the one who helps keep the doors open

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ethiopia: Bright Hope Students Sing

The Ethiopian kids at Bright Hope School are wonderfully fun loving despite their living conditions.

Help Build the Bright Hope School Mini-Farm in Ethiopia

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ethiopia: Bright Hope School Sign Man

Using felt pens and makers, Mengstu makes all the instructional visual aids for Bright Hope (Biruh Tesfa) School. Maps of the world, periodic tables, biology models and alphabet quiz cards all originate in Mengstu’s studio.

Exceptional staff and teachers at Bright Hope are doing all they can to help lift the 2100 students kids out of a desperate life style. The hunger from a lack of nutritional foods and fresh water hinder the children’s education.

The Bright Hope Garden Project is a group of churches, organizations and individuals coming together to help build a self sustaining mini-farm at the school. At completion the children will be provided safe drinking water and protein in their diet from chickens and eggs as well as vitamin packed vegetables.

Come join the Bright Hope Project

Come join the Bright Hope Project

Northern Ethiopia: Mekele Mom Wants to See Her Daughter Run Again

Berhan Yohannce sells apples by the side of the rocky road down from her house.
Her husband died from AIDS leaving her with no support to raise her two children.
So she does what she can.

Now Berhan’s 11-year old daughter, Mehret, has developed a malady that is attacking the muscles in her left leg. Walking is becoming more and more difficult. Doctors in Mekele, Ethiopia tell Berhan that successful treatment is only possible if she takes her daughter to a hospital in Addis Ababa. Living on the income from selling apples will not provide near enough for the two day bus trip and lodging in the capital city, let alone the hospital examination and treatment. Let’s make sure Mehret can walk and run again.

Give Now to help Mehret (designate “Mehret’s medical fund” with your gift)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Everyday Life Looks Like a Movie

Monday is market day in the northern Ethiopian city of Mekele. Caravans of goats, cattle, camels and donkeys are herded to town to sell in a large open market. Most farm families subsist on one to five acres of land; raising wheat and livestock. Since it is harvest time, I saw many out in the fields with their hand sickles cutting down this year’s crop. The photos are of men haggling over a sale price.

Coffee Time in Ethiopia with Hurting Families

If traveling north to Mekele by car, it would take you two days of hard driving.
The road follows a mountain chain the entire route between the two cities, so it is switch backs for hours on highways that sometimes are only gravel. Fortunately it was only a 50 minute flight for me.

As soon as I arrived early on Tuesday, the Children’s Hope child sponsorship coordinator for the Tigre region loaded me into a covered motorcycle taxi called a “By-Judge” (phonetic spelling of course).We visited the homes of six families who are in desperate situations. All were so gracious and giving. At the 10 x 10 home of a single young mom with four children, the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony was served. She has absolutely nothing, but with the help of her neighbor, we enjoyed popcorn and freshly ground coffee roasted over an open flame inside the small house.

The photo of the little boy is chilling. It is of 6-year-old Andoni inside his cinder block home with a tin front door. He lives with his three sisters and his disabled father. They live off around $42/month. Andoni is hurting. He needs Hope.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chicago Soccer Club Fields Team in Ethiopia

The Tinley Park Bobcats of Northern Illinois now have an expansion league in Addis Ababa. Pastor Girum Molla of the Gofa Christian Brethren (Wondimamach) Church, gladly took delivery of 130 soccer jerseys, 100 pairs of soccer socks and around 80 pairs of shorts. The children in their soccer outreach program will now have spiffy new uniforms with a Chicago flair.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bright Hope School

Bright Hope Smiles

Morning Chores in Bright Hope Community

Ethiopia: Bright Hope School Visit

Cory in Addis Ababa
The kids of Bright Hope lifted my heart today. Class after class that I visited was so welcoming and respectful. Two of the classes sang songs to me with such gusto; their combined voices buried my video camera’s audio meter. (I hope to show you part of that video as soon as I travel away from dial-up internet).

The reality of their lives, however, broke my heart. These 2100 children come from a community that grew up around a leprosy hospital. For decades families suffering from leprosy have immigrated from all over Ethiopia to this slum, on the western edge of Addis Ababa, to seek treatment.

Many of the children don’t even get one meal a day. Some even head to the nearby dump at lunch time to scavenge for a scrap of food. The Bright Hope School Garden project will give these kids a chance. They are already receiving a fabulous education but hungry tummies have a hard time learning.

The garden and chicken hatchery will provide these kids with at least one highly nutritious meal of protein and vegetables everyday. The well will give them water to drink at school and at home. After what I saw today, I can not implore you enough to help finalize the Bright Hope Garden Project.

I want to give a gift to Bright Hope

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ethiopia: Uniforms Make it Through Customs

Oct. 7

After 22 hours of travel, the 130 soccer uniforms and I landed in Addis Ababa.
There was one last hurdle - customs approval. When the customs agent opened one of my bags, she gave me the “who are you kidding” look. The uniforms were just too new and beautiful for her to believe it was a donation for a church ministry. I pointed out that the jerseys had “Tinely Park Soccer” screen printed on them, in an effort to show her that all though these uniforms have never been used, they don’t have a U.S. resell value. After a couple of supervisors got involved, it appeared I would have to store the uniforms at customs until I could return with an official letter stating the use of this donation from our office in Ethiopia. They would not accept my letter signed and notarized by Children’s Hope in St. Louis.

I had spotted Tsegay, our CHI-Ethiopia director, waiting for me just outside the secure area. They allowed him to come in and explain the situation. Again they stated that the donors should given a monetary gift so that we could purchase from Ethiopian craftsman.

We all agreed on that, but this is a donation that will do wonders to enhance the Wondimamchoch church outreach to street children. After some more delays, the original customs agent came over to Tsegay and I and said, "Next time you need all the correct letters, but with this donation, I will let you go." So off we went with all the uniforms!

First Ethiopia Travel Hurdle Complete!

Oct 6, 2009

We received grace at the very beginning of the trip to Ethiopia. As I lugged my three duffel bags up to the check-in window, I immediately hit a snag with the 130 soccer uniforms making it to the street kids in Ethiopia. The check-in agent would not accept my notarized letter stating that the extra luggage was for humanitarian purposes. In order to add one bag to my allotted two bags, the agent told me matter-of-factly, that without an official corporate letter, I must pay $250.I was willing to do that but I was greatly disappointed. She seemed to instantly soften while she came up with a plan for me. She said she would let me on with two overweight bags, if I could combine all three bags into two bags 70 pounds or less each. My wife and I quickly extracted the vacuum packed jerseys, shorts and socks from one bag and wedged them on top of the uniforms (and my clothes) in the other two bags. We did it! Two overstuffed bags weighing around 65 pounds a piece. That is over 100 pounds of soccer heaven for the kiddos.

Thank you Lord, for getting all the uniforms on my flight to Addis Ababa for free. Now pray that customs in Ethiopia doesn’t think I am going to sell the new uniforms in the market so I can make the delivery to the church with the soccer club outreach to street children.
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