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….

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