Friday, June 29, 2007

Pain for Gain (and totally for the kids)

It all started with our wonderful facilitator in China, Ming, who “agreed” to have his legs waxed to help a child identified by the mobile medical unit in Anhui. We don’t think he actually knew what he was agreeing to, but when he makes a promise it is kept, and so a box of strip wax was hastily mailed to China and on a mobile medical run the PTs hid their smiles as they assisted wth his leg hair removal. Over $1000 was donated to his effort. Xie Xie Ming!

Next, in Ireland a retired neighbor of one of our LWB volunteers, who is a member of the Garda (police) male voice choir, heard about the wonderful chivalry of Ming in China and declared he would do the same! Rip!! Thank you Tom Casey of Dublin, Ireland and the whole choir for supporting his valiant effort. All for the kids!

Then the craze spread to Limerick in Ireland where 6 men heard the call and offered their legs, arms, chest (ouch!) and even shaved their heads all for the cause of the children!
Ger, Billy, John, Neil, Martin & Ger are brave men. Thank you all!

A few extra Euro was thrown into the pot when some women realized they could be the one to tear the wax strips off their men. All for the kids of course!

See our mobile medical page at :
for more information … or to donate. The winners are the children in all this … over $5000 was raised with these “fun” events!

Well done men!! We salute you!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Planting Fun

This May when the Love Without Boundaries' education team visited the Believe In Me Too School, the teachers in China and our team from the US shared some ideas on school lessons. Our team had suggested that the children might enjoy growing plants.
A few weeks ago we received a photo of the plants that were ordered for the children. Initially we thought that the lesson idea had not been translated correctly, because the pots looked like painted eggs. They were certainly cute eggs, but somehow we thought the idea of watching a plant grow had been lost in translation.
Imagine our delight when we received the photo of thriving plants growing out of the eggs. You can also so easily imagine the wonder and fun the students experienced. It looks like we have master gardeners on our hands!

One of the many benefits in working with these schools is the exchange of knowledge. We all learned something here!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


There is an old Chinese saying: "The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step".

LWB took that first step over four years ago, and most definitely we have traveled thousands and thousands of miles since then.

This week a friend of mine sent me a before and after photo of her daughter, which she gave me permission to share. When I clicked on the photo, I was transported back four years ago, to the day I first met "the little blue girl". I went back and reread my journal from that day:

We decided to go visit the toddlers first. This will be the moment of my trip that I hope will never leave my mind. They were having their first of two meals of the day. They were sitting at these tiny little tables, and they were eating rice out of a metal bowl. I quickly kneeled down to eye level with a little girl, and I noticed that her lips were blue. I gently took her little hand in mine and it was ice cold. Like Kang, she also has a problem with her heart. Their eyes are impossible to describe. So incredibly beautiful, but so solemn. I looked down at the little girl's bowl and I saw that she had eaten every grain of rice and was scraping the sides of the bowl to get every last drop. All of their eyes were on us.


I will never forget kneeling beside Zhen, and holding her tiny little hand in mine and thinking it was far too cold and that her lips were far too blue. This was the first time in my life that I had been able to hold and grasp the hands of a child with heart disease. Of course, it was meeting this beautiful little girl and then also baby Kang that led several of us to create a foundation dedicated solely to the children.

I am so thankful to everyone who provided the needed funds to help heal Zhen's heart, which allowed her the chance to journey to her own wonderful family. She is now a vibrant and beautiful girl, with the same gentle spirit and loving nature. She is so very special to me.

We must always remember that every child in an orphanage has their own unique and special story. Every child has huge hopes and dreams just waiting to be realized. I am so grateful to the LWB friends who wake up every day and look at the photos of those children needing assistance and take their own first steps to help them. Whether it is through nutrition, foster care, education, or medical.....each day we recommit ourselves to their care, so that even more children will have their own chance to soar.

Amy Eldridge

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Generous Gift

The college students in our Mama’s Wish program have a new reason to celebrate, thanks to a generous grant from the Jie Jie Foundation. Recently, several new laptop computers were purchased for our university students to share. Additionally, university students received individual external hard drives.

Until now, the college students have had to walk to smoke-filled Internet bars and pay to use the computers in order to do their homework. The students are now able to share laptop computers and stay on campus to do research and write papers.

They were all so excited when presented with this unexpected surprise, and together they wrote to us expressing their gratitude:

“Last week, Mr. Jiancuo came to Xining and all of our college students who are in Xining got together and had a meeting. At the meeting, Mr. Jiancuo said, ‘The sponsors have offered you such convenient computers, so all of you must be able to know how to use the computer well. When you come back to home on the next holiday, everyone should show me what have you learned from the computer.’

“Each college is going to have one computer and we will take turns protecting the computer and checking it out to the students who need to use it. We bought a notebook to keep track of who has the computer. It’s very useful for us because we can use the computers for homework for school and make more time for study and less time at Internet bar.

“Therefore we want to say thank you very much that you offered us these wonderful computers to use. We never forget your kindness and are always holding you in our hearts. You are just like the sun and always shining to us and giving us warmth. Please give our best regards for all of your families!”

THANK YOU to the Jie Jie Foundation for making the lives of these promising college students a little bit easier.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Baby Tao is Smiling!

Last Friday, this tiny baby had heart surgery. Before her surgery, she was so weak and her auntie said that she really never smiled. A volunteer, who has been checking on her daily, has said that she is changing with each passing day. He has been amazed with how the surgery has revitalized her. She is starting to fill out and her color is so good. Yesterday, she started smiling to her auntie, but he wasn't lucky enough to see it. Today when he was there he got to see it this beautiful smile over and over! Heart surgeries make such an amazing difference to a child. Look at what it has done for sweet baby Tao!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A community of support

LWB helps provide surgeries to 30 or so babies per month on average. We never like reporting on the "numbers", however, because every single child is just so important to us and because every single child has their own unique and special story. We just don't have enough space in our newsletters to report about every one!

Recently we had one sweet little girl named Yan who had a major surgery at Shanghai Children's. We needed to move her to our Heartbridge Unit at Hope for her post op care, and so Tingting agreed to take her home for the night and then fly with her to Beijing to get her settled in at Heartbridge. When we read Tingting's email about her day with Yan, it reminded us yet again that when a baby gets healed, it means that a whole community of people have come together to give them that chance. From our donors to our volunteers who set up the surgeries to our facilitators in China to all of the wonderful doctors, nurses, and local people who help out in such great ways....each child certainly is surrounded with good wishes and lots of care.

Enjoy Tingting's letter, as we loved the "spirit of community" that it showed, all for one precious and very special little girl.


Everything went well last night. She woke up at 1.30am and had her bottle, then she slept without even changing position untl 5.30am when I had to wake her to prepare to go. I didn't sleep much and I saw her smiling from time to time while she slept.. it was so cute.. wonder what she was dreaming of then.

She gave me a big smile when I woke her this morning too. I washed her a bit, changed her and fed her.. she was very happy and kept giving me all kinds of happy noise. Our flight was from Pudong airport so it was a long ride to the airport. The taxi driver was so nice. When he heard she was an orphan, he kept looking back at her and I had to keep telling him "focus on the road!!!" He definitely was so in love with her already and kept telling me how cute she is and how smart she looks.. He even got so emotional a couple of times saying how could people rather spend money on fancy dinners instead of adopting such a cutie.. he said if he could afford it. he could love to adopt 5 or 6 kids like baby yan and he was already imaging how much fun his family would be like! What a sweet man!

In the airport.. everyone was amazed by how pretty she is and yet how tiny she is.. they wondered why me as the mom had raised such a tiny baby, but then when I explained that she was an orphan, they wanted to help in every way. They helped me a lot in the airport.. letting me go first in the line and help me with my bag, playing with yan on the flight.. etc. The flight attendants came from time to time to make sure we were ok and they made her formula too..

She didn't sleep at all the whole way as she was so curious about everything's going on around her.. once she arrived at Hope she was pretty much sleeping the whole afternoon while I was there.. and she still smiled often while sleeping. What a sweet baby she is.


Sunday, June 17, 2007


My son TJ was adopted when he was 2. He had lived in the orphanage his entire life, and so he had never known what it was like to have a mom or dad to love him until the day he was placed in my arms a little more than a year ago. I wondered how long it would take for him to learn his place in our home and how long it would take for him to understand that we were now a FAMILY and that he was our little boy.

TJ loves animals, and he loves collecting miniature plastic ones from the zoo or from toy stores. One day when we were out shopping together, he kept trying to place two zebras into the shopping cart, and I kept insisting that we would only buy one. TJ became so upset when I put the other one back, and cried all the way out of the store, trying desperately to tell me why he needed both, but since he only had a few words in his vocabulary at that time, it wasn’t working. I kept assuring him that he only needed one, and he kept stretching out his arms and pointing to the back of the store hoping for the other.

Every time we would go into another store with animals, he always would try to buy two. Mom (being thrifty) would always say “we only need one panda”, or “TJ, you should be happy with one cow”.

It wasn’t until his language began to take off that I FINALLY understood the depth of TJ’s desire to always have two animals. One day he was carefully searching through his bucket of animals until he found two lions. He put one up on the table first and said “baby” and then with great care he put up the second, right next to the first, and earnestly said, “MOM”. He dug some more into his bucket and managed to find two elephants and once more he placed the first one on the table and said “baby” and then gently sat the larger one down near the first while saying to himself with great relief, “MOM”.

TJ had learned so quickly that babies need moms. And that was the source of his distress when I would only allow him to buy one animal. He had been trying to tell me even at age two that his baby zebra needed a mommy. How could I not have seen that? Now we always buy our animals in families. Because TJ is so concerned that everyone needs a parent to take care of them.

Right now on our website we have some beautiful children who are in need of foster care sponsorship so that they, too, can have a parent to love them each and every day. There is a gorgeous little boy named Luke, who is the same age that TJ was at adoption, just two years old. His Chinese name means “brave” and he certainly was that when he traveled all the way to Shanghai last year for open heart surgery. We know that Luke will grow and thrive with his own mama and baba. He just needs someone to step forward to give him that chance.

If you know of anyone wanting to sponsor a child for foster care, please have them visit our webpage at

TJ learned the importance of family so quickly after he joined our home. What a wonderful gift it is to let children living as orphans learn it as well. Thank you to EVERYONE who supports foster care. You are truly giving the gift of love.

Amy Eldridge


Thursday, June 14, 2007

PT camp - final day with the kids

It was our final day for working with the children at the orphanage. We saw 5 children. One little boy with big eyes loved to dance, play and took me outside to watch him slide. We have named Tingting the tickle lady because she knows just the right spot to make every child laugh.

We had time before lunch to go through the materials at the orphanage such as toys and positioning equipment. We were able to show the staff ways to use the toys. They seemed very excited and receptive. We took a photo with the large bunny in the courtyard of the orphanage. They had us take our picture with Mr. Changde--the very cute little boy in the picture from the first day. We were very sad to see Dr. Zhang leave after lunch. She was a tremendous resource and I really enjoyed getting to know her!

The last child we saw was a precious little girl. She was very playful and gave us all kisses before we left. She made us all smile a lot. In the evening we met up with Reika (the Changde LWB facilitator), and ventured out and ate at McDonald's, souvenir shopped and went to the supermarket to buy containers for the toys at the orphanage. Tomorrow we will have a busy day teaching the staff and setting up activities. I look forward to seeing all of the children again before I leave. This has been a wonderful experience!!

Angie Boisselle

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hunan PT Camp - Day Three

An update from Tingting:

We reviewed 3 Changde kids today and 3 kids who traveled all the way with their ayis from Xiangtan orphanage.

The Xiangtan babies are so big and so cute! They are all under age 2 and they are all chubby. I kept wondering why babies from southern Hunan all have chubby round faces--you just want to hug them. I am very touched by their ayis and the orphanage worker who came with them. They all listened so carefully. They know so much about their kids and want so much info to help their children to get better. You can see and feel how badly they want the kids to get better. When we finished reviewing these 3 kids, they asked if we could summarize again our recommendations by bringing each child back to the PT room. They are such lovely and caring people.

Dr. Zhang also taught the ayis and PT doctor how to do hand massage. The ayis immediately started massaging the kids to make sure they understood the technique. It is really touching to see how eager they are to learn anything which might help the children. Whenever we worked on a child, we were surrounded by so many orphanage staff carefully listening, asking questions and taking notes. They are so eager to apply any new therapies right away.

Once again, another very productive day. We have so much fun as a team as well because every one has a pleasant personality and is very easy to work with. Everyone has the best interest of the kids at heart and shares the same goals. We joke a lot and laugh a lot together, but everyone is intensely motivated to help the kids as much as possible!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Day 2 in Hunan

Our team in Changde has just completed the second day of the PT camp. Things continue to go very well as hearts and minds meet to help the children. Here are two views--one from Tingting and one from Angie--of the day's activities:

Tingting wrote:

"Today we spent some time observing the classroom to see how kids behave when they are in a group and in their familiar setting. Dr. Zhang is very interested in music therapy, so we spent more time on each child by trying out music. It turned out that one of the boys really enjoyed it and Colleen started to dance with him. He usually wasn't interested in anything but he started to smile as he and Colleen danced-- it surprised all the staff, too. His caregiver is this really kind and patient granny. We all love her so much. We asked her to try to dance with the boy. She was so shy at the beginning and wouldn't dare to do it, but after she saw how this boy reacted to the music and dance she stepped out without hesitation and led the boy to dance. We all clapped our hands for her courage. She was so patient and so desperate to try everything she could to help him. We were all so touched by her.

When we took a taxi for lunch, the driver was very curious about why we were in Changde. Stephanie told him that we came here to help the orphans. After we got out of the taxi and tried to hand him the cab fare, he refused to take it. He kept saying, "Forget about paying me. You came here to help our kids. This is the least a local guy like me can do for you." We were all so touched by his kind gesture.

Angie brought a lot of great materials to Changde. Every time Dr. Zhang looked at Angie's extensive preparation, she would say, "Wow... this is so good. " Angie brought some really good tape that can be used for kids' fingers. Dr. Zhang applied it to the kids who needed it. Again, I am just so impressed by Angie, Dr. Zhang and Colleen - they make such a perfect team!! "

Angie wrote:
"This morning we were able to see the school. The children were very glad to see us. Prior to our arrival, they passed out candy. Many of the children had their pockets stuffed full of the treats by the time we had arrived.

One little boy grabbed my hand, had me sit down, handed me a book and sat in my lap. It was obvious that he wanted me to read to him, but there was just one small was in Chinese. Stephanie, one of the LWB facilitators, was nice enough to help. He then had a great time going through my purse. He tried on my sunglasses, took pictures with my camera and wanted me to open a package of Wetnaps. He was very disappointed to find out it was just a cloth in the colorful package. The other children were very interested, too. Colleen did a fantastic job coming up with ideas for the classroom.

I am very impressed by the staff and the ayis caring for the kids. They truly have the best interests of the kids at heart. The staff is very interested in learning as much as they can. They listen very intently and take thorough notes. I really enjoy working with Zhang Min, the Chinese PT. I have learned a lot from her and find it fascinating that despite our different backgrounds that we have so much in common. Of course none of this would be possible without Tingting. She has taught us so much about China and is a master interpreter. I can't wait for the rest of the week!"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Another PT camp begins!

Our second therapy team this year has arrived in Hunan, and they are off to a great start. We are very grateful to Angie, who flew all the way to China for us to help with OT evaluations, and to Colleen, who is a specialist on children's early intervention, and a big thanks to Dr. Zhang from Anhui Children's who is evaluating the kids for physical therapy. Everyone is very knowledgable in their own field and has wonderful ideas on how to help the children. Both Tingting and Stephanie (two great LWB facilitators) are in Hunan as well to help the camp run smoothly.

The team set up in the PT room of the orphanage, a bright and spacious area with lots of mats in one corner and all sorts of equipment and toys. The orphanage gave them a name list of their children with special needs, and the assessments began. On the first day, they were able to evaluate five children in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. Dr. Zhang, Angie, and Colleen spent time with each child, taking notes and discussing with each other the best exercises and treatment for the kids. The orphanage doctor, nurses and aunties were all there as well, listening carefully and taking notes. Dr. Zhang gave lots of wonderful advice on working with the children's large motor skills, and Angie gave tips on small motor skills such as finger motion and eye contact. Colleen observed the kids' reactions, such as how they recognized shapes and colors, and their language skills. Together they gave a lot of specific ideas on what toys and games would be good for each child's specific areas of concern, and the aunties would say "oh...that is good....write it down!"

The team wasted no time today, evaluating kids without a break and spending time with each child to come up with lots of ways for them to reach their full potential. Each child will be given a personalized photo book with suggestions and exercises designed specifically for them.

More news from Hunan tomorrow!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Look Inside the OR

This is an excerpt from a letter from Elfie, one of the wonderful LWB volunteers in Shanghai. She helped out so much on the recent neurosurgical mission that she was invited into the operating room theater to watch a spinal tumor surgery. We thought you would enjoy reading about her experience.


I arrived at the ward at 8.15 am, a quarter of an hour earlier than arranged and just in time to say hello to Wei and her ayi before the nurse came running in with a set of small cotton hospital pyjamas for her. Outside the gurney had arrived. No sooner had ayi done up the last button, than Wei was rushed out of the room with ayi in tail following Wei as far as she was allowed to go.

I changed into my scrubs and then was led out of the changing room into the corridor leading to the theatres. A big change in scenery, different walls, different floors, scrubbing basins with automated dispensers in front of every room. Sliding doors, operated by the feet, gave way to the individual surgery theatres.

Wei was already out and bundled in a cute little heap on the operating table, looking not unlike an Anne Geddes baby arranged neatly on a petal. Special pillows and rolls propped up her tummy and her behind. She looked peaceful, trusting. Her spinal tumour was sticking up into the air.

I was allowed to stand at the head of the table between the control centre that monitored the vitals and a rolling trolley that served to hold supplies and as a writing table. It gave me an incredible view over the working area. Five people worked in the room. It was breathtaking to watch Dr. Bao and his assistant work with such ease and at a fine pace too. Few words were exchanged between the two, but they looked out for each other, knowing and expecting each other’s steps and being ready to take action in response.

I watched in wonder as the tumor was removed with such precision. Some time in the course, Dr. Bao proceeded to puncture the meninges bubble to drain the spinal fluid. It splurted out quite happily and not a little of it. Carefully the area was opened to get to the spinal cord and nerves inside of it. Down in its opening there was a mini lake of spinal fluid. Out of this “hole” protruded strings of cord and nerves and other tissue, not unlike the cheese strings dangling down from a piece of bread of a Swiss fondue. It was my first time to see nerve strands and it probably has been one of my happiest moments to have this peek inside what usually lives in the spine. Before closing up any tissue, it was ensured that all blood vessels had been sealed and that the wound was clean. The thread that was used had a metallic lustre and was very, very fine. As the last stitches were done, preparations to wheel the baby back to her room were undertaken. The surgery had started sometime after ten o’clock and was over around 1 pm.

I feel greatly honoured to have been allowed to watch this surgery. During the entire surgery I felt that hope was in the making for little Wei. There was great respect for the living baby underneath the cloths and total awareness that one was working on a living individual person and that it was totally necessary to ensure the wellbeing and future fully functional health of the little child. It was awesome – in the truest sense of the word.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Hanging" with Grandma

LWB has been doing foster care in Henan province for almost a year and a half. In Kaifeng, the abandonment of children is not common, and we were particularly struck by one statistic the orphanage shared with us. They told us that 90% of the children living in the orphanage were abandoned at the hospital in town. 90%. We think this shows that the majority of time, birthparents are trying everything possible to keep their children and only abandon when their medical needs are too great for the family to handle. Because of this, most of children in our foster care program have medical needs, and so many are very tiny and weak when they first enter the program.

Today we opened up the newest foster care reports sent by our local facilitator, and with each new report our smiles grew bigger and bigger. The children look so healthy and beautiful, and in each report the love they are receiving is so obvious. We just had to share this wonderful photo of one little girl in the program. She has become so happy and healthy in her foster home. Our favorite line was this one, as it shows that the goal of foster care is to give these beautiful children the most normal life possible. "She likes hanging out with her grandma and aunty".

Isn't that a beautiful line? Wouldn't every child like to "hang out with Grandma"?

Thanks to everyone who helps to make foster care possible for orphaned children in China. What a priceless gift they are receiving.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The joy of school

Watching children learn to read and write has always been a major part of my life. During my 35 years of teaching, I watched many children conquer these abstract skills. As I watched the children at the Believe in Me II School practice their writing and hold their reading books in their hands, I couldn’t help but think how much alike we all are. The teachers hovered over their charges and helped them with their pencils. They called out words of encouragement to the children as they recited. The little children shared what they had learned with the child next to them and helped each other along with their skills. Teachers smiled and the children smiled back. You could feel how happy the children were to be at their tasks. They loved the distraction that the visitors brought to the room, but then they were ready to get back to their work. Their day of school was just like the normal task of children everywhere around the world. I am so proud of these children, these teachers, the staff that works and supports them, and the sponsors of this school.

Marilee Gilmore

LWB education