Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Thank You Donors!

As all parents know, it is one of the most beautiful milestones when a child takes his first steps. For us the experience was no less dramatic even if it happened 12 years later than average. We first met our young friend a year ago when we started working with another orphanage in China. Our friend has Cerebral Palsy, a neurologic disorder and that makes it extremely difficult to control her muscles and limbs. She is really smart, even though she has had no schooling. We just couldn't get her out of our minds remembering how she just sat in a chair all day trying to practice Chinese characters in a little paper book. We thought it might be good to show the therapists at the orphanage how a child like this might be helped using a specialized gait trainer. It's a little more involved that a standard reverse walker as there is adjustable supports in key areas in the frame.  Our PT, Susan from U of M has had great success with children here in the US. So we put out a plea for donations. We were so happy when we finally raised enough money to purchase the gait trainer. The Rifton company gave us a charitable discount as well! Vivian found out her favorite color so of course we ordered one in pink! We hauled that gigantic box to the airport and then the bus to Hanghou, and then the bus to Ningbo. As Susan wheeled the gait trainer in and told our little friend she was going to help her walk, her eyes got wide and she smiled from ear to ear. It was like getting a brand new bike for Christmas!  No, maybe a brand new convertible! And guess what. She walked immediately. All around the room. She intuitively steered her new ride wherever she wanted to go. Yeah, not a dry eye in the house. Plus it matches her shoes.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

We are sure having fun with the kids in China. It was wonderful to see our little friends on our stopover in Hangzhou. I guess they are getting pretty used to a cameras because here is a budding photographer who also wanted to take a picture of one of his little friends.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

This past May, I went with a small group of therapists to an orphanage that was referred to us for help by Hangzhou SWI.   We are frequently moved to tears by the plight of some of the children we see in these institutions, as we were this time.  Several children just radiated their extremely dire need for some simple things.
         The one I’m writing this about is a charming little 12 year old girl who has Cerebral Palsy. Unfortunately, she has received no treatment at all in all this time.  She gets around by scooting in a small plastic child’s chair.   While she is cognitively normal, she has not received ANY schooling because of her lack of mobility. She clearly wants to learn as she practices Chinese characters all day in a little paper book.  
         She desperately needs a gait trainer, a device that will allow her to learn to walk. Our therapist is sure that this little girl will be able to walk with one. A gait trainer costs $2700. We want to buy one to deliver on the medical trip this October, and train the staff on its use with this child. Then we will strongly encourage them to put her in school.  Just think of how her life will change! Right now she has only her plastic chair to scoot with, and no schooling. She basically does nothing new all day, every day.  Our hope is that when the staff learns how to use the gait trainer, they will be able to help other children with the same condition.
         We really hope you will help.  You may donate on our web site,, or by check sent to Red Thread Charities, 6632 West Shore Drive, Edina, MN 55345.
         Thank you so very much for helping this child!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Fine Arts are Alive and Well in Chinese Orphanages

As we have said before…we have finished our commitment with one orphanage and have started work at an orphanage a couple hours away.   But it’s really hard to leave our good friends at HZ. They have requested that we keep coming back if only for a day or so to check in and see some kids.   Well, how can we resist?  We love staying at the orphanage dorms and waking up to the familiar sounds.  We love that they always have several adorable kids lined up waiting to be ‘interviewed’ by us.  The privilege of being greeted by the most charming children imaginable is irresistible.  Children that wish to be adopted and would fit in so well in families here in the US..  And they are artists!  Their creativity has been developed in amazing ways. 

The kids sing and dance in solos, duets and groups.. They confidently recite Chinese poetry… and they draw…Wow, do they draw!  One child we saw drew what he explained as a children’s outing, complete with the bus, the traffic jam, the lines of children with two adults and the happy tree that wore a smile because the children did not pick the origami flowers, which he carefully glued onto the tree.  Other children drew happy houses and suns in the sky. 

Another child drew a scary monster!  Lot’s of kids love to draw people... and umbrellas!  A little boy with Down syndrome quickly traced his hand so he could run to the front of the class and have me photograph him.  So cute!  The fine arts are a huge part of the Chinese culture and one that we hope adoptive parents will continue to embrace and encourage. We are so happy that the staff became inspired after visiting centers in the US in 2011 that they have fully embraced the concept of inclusion!  Children who were previously left behind are now being included in the classrooms and the arts programs.  And the staff have realized that the children accept each and every one unconditionally.  Well of course they do.  That is a pretty cool concept.  I’m so glad we are all on the same page.