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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