Welcome to our Blessing Hands Blog

Thanks for visiting our website and learning about our charity that helps children in China stay in school.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

We had a wonderful time at Baisha Higher Middle School. The students were so excited to meet us and we were equally happy to meet them. They had little gifts to give us like hand knitted items, jars of folded stars, and a large handmade card. They all had practiced giving self introductions. I wish I spoke Chinese as well as they did English. These photos were just sent to me. Nina had them in her luggage that was lost at the airport for nearly a month.
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As I sat on the platform at the public program in Yangshuo, I was able to recognize individual students who I knew from photos, letters, or school visits. I was delighted by the program they presented for us. Each high school did a song, dance, or musical number. There was a special Chinese band and dancing girls in costumes. Some of the students gave thank you speeches in English, and Nina and I even got to say something. They presented us with banners of appreciation and many smiles. Maybe you can see one of your sponsored students.
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Malan Cai, my good friend and interpreter, helps us with administration of Blessing Hands funds in Yangshuo. It was such a pleasure to spend some time with her again. She is a wonderful interpreter because she knows me so well, she could give the speech herself. Here I was telling the students about the art event we are planning this summer with our summer intern Megan Marz.

We will gather the high school students and the junior high students who live in town and have a half day art event with them. Megan, who is an artist herself, and Bob Franzini, who is head of the Art Department at Morehead State University, will host the event with the organizational ability of the Education Department. Each student will be encouraged to send a watercolor painting back to Morehead. With Sister Cities' help, in the fall we will display the paintings at the Old Court House, which has become an art center. The people's choice winner of that show will be entered in the Sister Cities International Youth Showcase representing Yangshou, our Sister City. The students were excited to hear about the upcoming activity.
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These Yangshuo girls wanted to have their picture taken with Nina Ottinger from the Founding Family Charitable Trust. Nina and I traveled all over for two weeks and had a wonderful time giving out tuitions and small gifts to the students. They thought we were famous, and we thought they were wonderful. They all love to make the victory sign when you take a picture. These girls are from Yangshou Higher Middle School and Baisha Higher Middle School. Nina has her own adopted Chinese daughter. I tell her that when you love one Chines girl, you love them all.
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This junior high student received some special New Year gifts from his sponsor who wanted to do more than just pay for his school supplies. I was so glad that I found him in the crowd of students that had gathered for the program at the Yangshuo Experimental Middle School of Foreign Languages.
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These are our three college scholarship girls. They were home for the Chinese New Year and came to the ingathering tuition ceremony in Yangshuo. They are holding their tuition money for the next semester. Jenny is on the left. Anna is in the middle; and Lily is on the right. It was such a joy to see them happy and well. They had some home sickness the first semester, but have adjusted to college well. They all three write to me by e-mail. We hope to have a lot more scholarships available this summer. We are applying for some scholarship grants from two foundations.
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I got to speak to Qin Ling Zhu while I was in Yangshuo. She is the little girl that had the tumor removed twice. The last time was in the fall when a Chinese/American artist gave her money for the operation in Shanghai. She is recovered from that operation. She spoke to me in very good English when I asked her how she was. She answered without hesitating that she was fine. She gave me a little mobile that she had made and a clay figure of a snail. Her face looked much better, but there is still some swelling around the left eye. She has always be so thoughtful with her handmade gifts for me.
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These are the teachers and parents of the Parent Teacher Organization at McBrayer Elementary School in Rowan County. I am smiling on the right holding a check that the group gave to Blessing Hands. They gave $350 to support 35 primary students in Yangshuo for one semester. It was such a pleasure to match them up to be a Sister School with Putao Primary School in Yangshuo County, Guangxi, China.

They want their students to be pen pals with our primary students also. I have been making pen pal/sponsor cards to give to folks who want to meet our Blessing Hands children. I can just imagine the faces of the children in China when they get a card or drawing from Morehead's McBrayer Elementary School. I hope some of the classes will collect books for the schools of their pen pals as well. People who love children are all over the world. I am glad to know the ones at McBrayer Elementary. They have several adopted children from China enrolled there. The whole school should be learning more about China first hand.
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Monday, March 05, 2007

Blessing Hands' March Newsletter

Blessing Hands March 2007 Newsletter

China Trip:

What a great trip to China Nina Ottinger (from Founding Family charitable Foundation) and I had! We were able to give out about $22,000 in tuitions to the Blessing Hands students in four presentation ceremonies. The largest events were in Yangshuo, Qinzhou, and Pubei. You can see those event photos by going to http://picasaweb.google.com/bdcutts/PubeiIngathering and
http://picasaweb.google.com/bdcutts/QinzhouIngatheringFebruary2007 .

Many of the smaller highpoints are told on our blog at http://blessinghands.blogspot.com. You can see me doing the Hokey Pokey at Nine Mile School there. We came back with many letters, handmade articles, and small gifts from the students. It was exciting to meet the students in Qinzhou for the first time and renew friendships with teachers.

We also visited many schools and saw the two construction projects that Founding Family Charitable foundation has funded at two primary schools. Gloria Wei, Malan Cai, and Anna Liu were excellent hosts and translators, and we even met the Women’s Federation leaders, one of Nanning’s Vice Mayors, Mayor Zhou in Yangshuo, and David Qiu and Mandy Ma, from World Vision in Nanning. We had the help of some of the former Morehead State University visiting scholars in Nanning when we went to Nine Mile School to give out jackets, school supplies, and hats. Qinzhou students got shoes also. The Pubei students showed us how to make New Year Dumplings for lunch.

Summer Eyeglass Clinic:

Nina and her friend Anita, who is a trained worker with the visually impaired, will return to Qinzhou this summer to conduct an eyeglass clinic similar to the one we did last summer in Yangshuo. We met with the head of the hospital in Qinzhou, and they will be giving free exams to the students that Anita and Nina screen in advance. Founding Family Charitable Foundation is financing this project and will pay for any eyeglasses the children might need. It was such a blessing to have Nina along on the trip and to feel her compassion for the students. She enjoyed showing people the pictures of Sarah, her adopted Chinese daughter.

Lexmark Gives 7 Printers:

Lexmark has agreed to ship six E430 office printers to our administrators in Yangshuo and Qinzhou, and they have given one printer to our Blessing Hands Morehead office. Yangshuo will be getting some for their high schools, and Anna Liu in Qinzhou will get one for her office/school use. We thank Lexmark’s Lexington office that has given the free shipping as well.

UPS has Shipped Books:

UPS recently generously gave us free shipment of 24 boxes of books to three locations in Guangxi. Nine boxes of books arrived, after a difficult passage through customs, while I was in China. We had to pay unexpected customs duty, but they arrived in good shape. We especially thank Russ Mead of Crane House in Louisville. KY, who has endured with this shipping project and helped us get them through customs.

Summer Intern Plans:

While in Yangshuo we made plans for Megan Mraz’s summer visit to Yangshuo as our Blessing Hands intern. I met the family that she will be living with and helped plan an Art Event that will be a joint project of Morehead Sister Cites and Blessing Hands this summer. Our Blessing Hands middle school students will join in a half day of art demonstrations and participation.

We plan for each child to send a watercolor painting back to Morehead for a Sister Cities/Blessing Hands Art Show. The public will be invited to vote on the best painting, which will later be entered in an International Sister Cities Youth Art Competition to represent Yangshuo. The student’s photos and comments about their paintings will be included in the show. Dr. Robert Franzini and Megan will host the Art Event in Yangshuo. They are both artists and willing to give demonstrations to the students along with artists in Yangshuo. Blessing Hands will pay for art supplies. Megan is still in need of travel funds if you would like to make a contribution for her summer trip.

Grant Applications:

We are currently working on many grant ideas, but we feel very positive about two of them getting funding. One will be a pen pal grant to establish relationships between our students in China and their sponsors and pen pals in the US. I spoke to two primary classes at Mt. Sterling Elementary School recently, giving them cards matching them with pictures of students in China.

The kids were eager to do drawings and letters to send to primary children in China, but disappointed to learn that the Chinese students would not be able to write back easily because of the high cost of postage. It cost the equivalent of $1US to send a letter from China, but with their income level that is more like $7.50 to them. We solved the problem by sending some Chinese money with the package of drawings and asking the principal to use it for postage to send letters back. We are applying to a new foundation for money to give pen pal grants to schools to allow these exchanges of letters to continue.

The second grant that has good possibilities would give college scholarships to our girls who graduate this spring. Chinese girls have a much harder time with college support than boys. All of our present college scholarship students are girls because of their need. This grant will establish a fund to help more of our graduating girls enter professions someday.

Sponsors and Program Funds Needed:

Even as we plan for new programs and grants, we still need sponsors and program funds for our ongoing tuition programs. Although Founding Family Charitable Foundation is conducting an eyeglass clinic for our students this summer, FFCF is not funding us for matching funds or program funds this year. They are putting money into their own projects and adoption grants. Foundation grants are usually only for one year to stimulate new projects.

We added 180 more high school students last fall in our Qinzhou program. We need to raise money to replace matching funds and keep our students in school this fall. Please forward our newsletter to others that you feel might also want to sponsor a child. This will help us advertise our students’ needs. Unlike grants that come and go, I think sponsors will commit long term to their special child. Checks should be sent to Blessing Hands, 106 Timber Lane, Morehead, KY 40351 or you can give with the button on our blog.

MSU Business Students Help:

Blessing Hands needs a business plan to present with the grants we are seeking. Some of the Business students at MSU have agreed to help us write a business plan. Dr. Rich Criscione has helped us with the IRS forms required, and we hope to get some computer expertise as well from other students.

All this is great news, and we thank you all for your support.

Betty Cutts for Blessing Hands’ students

I had cards made in China to give out to our students to encourage them to try my
e-mail address. It was fun to see all the information in Chinese and English on opposites sides of the cards. I paid $6 for two hundred and gave most of them away.
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The mayor of Pubei greeted us with such grace. He spoke very good English since he had gotten a degree in America. He gave Nina and I lovely, expensive, inscribed vases. Pubei had a terrible flood just a year ago, so many more students needed tuition help there. We have thirty students in that area.
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2004 Summer English Camp Teachers

These are some of the English teachers that I taught in summer English camp in 2004. Most of them are from Pubei and came together in a reunion while I was in Pubei giving out tuitions. Who would have thought all this would happen back then. They were precious students and some still write to me. I saw other former students and my classroom assistant in Qinzhou. The town has become a city in the three years since I left. Qinzhou is being developed as a port city for the interior provinces.
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Friday, March 02, 2007

Yao School Children

Many of the Yao children live at the school from a young age, since their homes are so remote in the mountains. Very few of them go pass the primary level. Many people are hoping to change that.
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Yao Minority School

The children at a Yao minority primary school gave us a tour of their school. Their school is supported by another charity, but we were able to give them some money to buy needed desks. It seems that not all the children had desks, and they were rotating them. Nina especially wanted to visit this school that we had heard about last summer.
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Qinzhou Ingathering

All the Qinzhou students got new shoes at the Ingathering. Anna Liu had gone to the trouble to ask their shoe sizes and had them all ready for them. The students wanted their picture taken with me and of course the shoes were a key part of this picture. Shoes are about $3 to $4 dollars in China if you get a good price in the right place. Anna is a good shopper.
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Qinzhou Students Receive Clothes

Ann Liu, our administrator in Qinzhou had gathered gently used clothes to give to the students. They were thrilled to see the quality of the clothes and the garments were not left behind. We tell the students that we are all one big family and getting clothes from our family is Chinese custom. Most Chinese are hesitant to wear used clothes, but the students didn't seem to mind. We are hoping for more volunteers to help us gather donated clothes in China. Used clothes can't be imported legally into China.
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Qinzhou Teachers Receive Books

In Qinzhou, where we have 180 Blessing Hands senior middle school students, most of the students could come right to No. 1 Middle School, since Qinzhou is a city with many senior middle schools. These students are rural children who come to board in the city to get a high school education. They go to school until they are 18 hoping to go on to college after three years. Right after the Ingathering they went home for the New Year Holiday on public buses.

Here one of the volunteer teachers who escorted a group of students to the meeting is receiving books for her students. Many of you have sent used English books by M-Bags at the US Post Office. They can be sent for a $1 a pound up to 60 pounds after the first 6 pounds. It takes three months for them to arrive, but it is the cheapest way to go. They were thrilled to get the books. Keep them coming. I get them as donations or buy them at yard sales.
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Pen Pals Finally Meet.

It was a pleasure to meet the students I had been corresponding with by e-mail in Qinzhou. We found them to be fun and interested in learning. The different schools wear different jackets so we could tell some of their schools by just looking.
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Nine Mile School Children Doing the Hokey Pokey

After all the excitement of getting gifts, the girls were still eager to play Hokey Pokey with us. It is a good way to teach parts of the body and have fun as well. Here we are putting our left hands into the circle. All were smiling and having a good time, even the teachers.
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Nine Mile Students got Jackets and Hats.

The Nine Mile School children in Wuming County greeted us with excitement. We had new coats, hats, and red New Year envelopes with money to give the students. It was like Christmas for them. We also gave a learning toy to the school to help the children learn English. Mandy Ma from World Vision went with us to this school. We really enjoyed talking to her about charities in China and how they operated. She and her colleague David Qiu gave us an interview at World Vision's Nanning branch office.
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The Yangshuo students all wanted to give us things.

After the program was over the students stayed to give us little gifts and have pictures taken with us. We were the celebrities of the day. They even made a DVD of the event for us to have. I will place it online later. Gloria Wei, the Blessing Hands Administrator in Yangshuo did a wonderful job of bringing this all together with the help of the principals, teachers, and students.
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Yangshuo Ingathering

In Yangshuo we were able to meet many of the high school students at an Ingathering Day. They put on a wonderful show for us complete with singing, playing Chinese instruments, dancing, and speeches. Each senior middle school's Blessing Hands students presented something they must have practiced for sometime. Mr Xu the Vice Mayor of Yangshuo gave a wonderful speech. He used to be head of the Education Department, so he knew most of the students. Malan Cai was a wonderful translator for us and made the small speeches Nina and I gave special for us.

We have 83 senior middle school students in Yangshuo and 73 lower middle school students. I think all of them were there that day at the Yangshuo Experimental Middle School of Foreign Studies to meet and greet us. The primary students number 104, but only the ones in town were able to come.
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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pubei Ingathering

Nina Ottinger from Founding Family Charitable Foundation and I gave little speeches for the Pubei Ingathering Event. I also got to show the Chinese PowerPoint that describes Blessing Hands and encourages people to give. Nina and I enjoyed seeing what has been done with the $25,000 grant that FFCF gave to Blessing Hands this time last year. So many lives have been changed. We got to give out tuitions at four presentation ceremonies in Yangshuo, Nine Mile School, Qinzhou, and Pubei.
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Pubei County

A ceremony was planned in Pubei County to give out the spring tuitions to the Blessing Hands students. Many teachers that I taught in summer English camp in 2004 also gathered to greet us. Some of them are now Blessing Hands volunteers in their schools and came with their students. The mayor of Pubei gave Nina and I beautifully inscribed ceramic pots that are locally made there.

Best of all we got to meet the Blessing Hands students and give them a personal touch. They gave us thank you letters, drawings, and handmade gifts. Pubei had a terrible flood last spring and many of the student's homes were washed away. After such a loss, many of them would not have been able to return to school without the Blessing Hands tuitions.
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Pubei Ingathering

Nina Ottinger and I were invited to help make Chinese New Year dumplings while we were visiting Pubei Middle School for the Ingathering. We really enjoyed getting to interact with the Blessing Hands students in person. They showed us how to fill the dumplings, but I admit they did most of them themselves. The teachers and representative from the Women's Federation are looking over our dumpling efforts.
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