Welcome to our Blessing Hands Blog

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yangshou Flood is Receding

The waters are receding in Yangshuo, and we can now show you more pictures of the flood sent by Gloria Wei, our administrator there. It was a massive flood not seen in over fifty years. Tourists were evacuated on rafts and got around on bicycles in the flood water.

Gloria Wei, who is over all the primary schools in Yangshuo as well as our Blessing Hands administrator, is traveling to the schools in rural Yangshuo County to access flood damage.

We hope the 10 schools that are Sister Schools with our local Rowan County Schools are unaffected, but some of them are in river bottoms. We hope to know soon what needs to be done with our Flood Fund.

Gloria Wei has visited Zhang Lufei’s family to extend sympathy. Lufei’s mother left the family when she was very young. The family seemed to be coping with her death. Gloria will visit again to access their needs now that she know we have a fund set up.

A Guangxi friend tells me that the rice crop will have to be replanted if it is not too wet before the planting time passes. They usually get two rice crops a year. The cold weather in January
wasn’t good for the winter citrus harvest and now there is this flood. I can imagine what the water might have done to the dirt roads in the rural areas. It will take a long time for Yangshuo County to recover.

Eric Zhang Joins the Blessing Hands Board

We have a new board member, Eric Zhang. Eric came to the US from the Yunnan Province of China in 1990. He obtained a Master’s degree in Control Systems Engineering at West Virginia Institute of Technology and also worked as an adjunct instructor for the Department of Mathematics.

There he met his wife Destiny, who was born in China but grew up in Chile. Now they have three children, Christina, Sophia and Nathaniel. Currently he teaches Chinese at the Lexington Chinese School and gives private tutoring lessons as well.

He also serves on the board of the Lexington Chinese Association and has been involved in their earthquake relief efforts. Two of our board members, Li Xiao Long and Janet Gross, have moved away, so we are delighted to have Eric’s presence and expertise on our board.

Zhenhua Sun has joined us as an advisory board member. She is the mother of two lovely girls and a education student at our local college where her husband teaches. She is from Northern China. Dr. Lina Fong, born in Hong Kong, is also joining our advisory board. She is a counselor, does adoption home studies, and works with youth exchanges among other services. She and Eric Zhang are both members of the Lexington, KY. Chinese Christian Church.

The Olympic Torch Passed Through Nanning

The Olympic Torch passed through Nanning in early June. Cen Wanman (Doris), one of our Blessing Hands college scholarship students, has sent us pictures.

On the 7th of June, the Olympic torch relay passed through Nanning. All of the students of our college went to Yuexiu Road to watch it. We got up at 5 am on the 7th and then finished breakfast offered by our college. We gathered at the playground at 6 am and started to walk there at 6:30 am. When we arrived at Yuexiu Road, it was 7:50 am. We waited for more than 3 hours, but then the torch was relayed in front of us, - No.181 to No.183. We were so excited. You can imagine how excited we were. On that day, only a few schools could go to watch the torch relay. Almost all the students in Nanning must stay at school in order to keep order.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Zhang Lufei Drowns in the Yangshuo Flood

It is with great sadness that I have to report that Zhang Lufei, one of our Blessing Hands primary students, drowned in the recent flood in Yangshuo. I am still in shock. Little girls are not suppose to die young. I don't have all the details. I just know that on the 13th of June she fell into a ditch of rushing water, and efforts made to save her were unsuccessful. I hope to find out more. She was 8 years old and attended Aishan (Love Mountain) Primary School.

Her sponsor, Nina Ottinger, visited her just last October and brought back the picture shown here. Nina picked Lufei to sponsor, because she was about the same age as Sarah, her own adopted daughter from China. Nina and I saw Zhang Lufei first at a gathering in Yangshuo of the Blessing Hands students. We loved her sweet face and nature, and asked her to come sit with us during the program. I am having a hard time accepting that her life of promise is gone, and Nina is too I am sure.

Lufei, like most of our children, came from a farm family that has two measures of land. Her grandparents are older and often ill. Her father is disabled. The family income is listed in our records as 200 yuan ($30). She was in the second grade

I got the news this morning before our Blessing Hands Board meeting. The board decided to help Lufei's family with the expense of her funeral or other expenses from the flood. We also want to establish a fund in her honor that would help other girls. In this way she would not be forgotten and could be a blessing to others. If you want to join in this fund, just send your gift to Blessing Hands, 106 Timber Lane, Morehead, KY, 40351 or donate with the Google checkout button on our blog.

Gloria Wei, our administrator there, is using a raft to get to and from her apartment building. She says she has little damage to her home on a higher floor. I have asked Gloria to make a survey of the needs of our Blessing Hands families and schools.

We are establishing a Yangshuo Flood Fund to help where we can. I invite you to contribute to this also. We don't know the needs yet, but I am sure that some families have been washed out and schools are damaged. There has not been a flood like this in 51 years in Yangshuo. School buildings in China are not always built to withstand floods or earthquakes. Join us in extending a Blessing Hand.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yard Sale Success

Blessing Hands' Yard Sale last Saturday was a great success. We sold about $600 worth of treasures that we gathered up from our closets and garages. Russ Brengelman contributed a lawn mower that sold within the first 30 minutes.   

It was a real treasure hunt to get the items together for the sale. I had not cleaned out my closets and drawers for 20 years. I found things I didn't recognize and others I had been hunting.  Some things were just too specialized to sale. Anyone need a transformer that changes 120 electric voltage to 240?
I was very glad to find good homes for items that I could never have thrown away, but didn't really need anymore. I had fun  giving some things away to kids. Bargains were everywhere and most people enjoyed getting us to lower the price a little just like in a Chinese open market.

Yard sales are strange to the Chinese visiting scholars who come to Morehead. It seems to be against feng shui to use something others have owned. Some bad luck or disease might be transferred according to Chinese custom. Antiques would not be as valued in China. In Taiwan possessions of the deceased are often burned at the funeral.  In the same vein, most used items cannot be imported into China. 

Small pox was spread through used bedding in Chinese history, so I can see why they might feel that way.   As long as things are washed, Americans love a bargain sale and think recycling is a good thing for the environment. When they get over the idea, the Chinese scholars usually enjoy driving around to yard sales and finding bargains too. 

Thanks are due to Doris Wells, Carol Karwatka, Missionary Missions, and others for the loan of tables and cars to transport all the boxes. Carolyn Franzini and Phyllis Nickel were our cashiers. It took two hours to unpack everything and almost as long to pack up the leftovers.

Speaking of leftovers. We plan to have another yard sale after we recover from this one. If you live in our area and have anything to donate to a sale let us know. We have the loan of a nice, shady lot along the interstate connector road. 


Clack Mountain Festival

Blessing Hands'  "Pick Me!" display was featured recently at the Clack Mountain Festival in Morehead. The outdoor festival combined Bluegrass music, folk art, and craft booths on a Saturday in early June. Since it was our first outdoor event, we learned the value of sun tan oil, hats, and an umbrella.  We got to use the tri-fold display that one of the MSU students made for us, but the wind almost got the whole exhibit. Friendly neighbors helped us tie and weight down the umbrella before disaster went too far.  I know now to bring clips to hold down newsletters and sponsor cards. 
We got five new sponsors during the afternoon and added a page full of folks to our newsletter. I love small town life. I saw a lot of people I knew and had the help for several special friends. Thanks goes to Carol Rose, Doris Wells, and Linda Barker for helping me with the display table and packing it in and back out again. 

Yangshuo Flooded

Yangshuo Town is under water! I was amazed to see a photo of a flood not experienced in 54 years in Yangshuo, the area where most of our primary and lower middle school children live. Yangshuo is a river town where bamboo rafts are often used for transportation.  As you can see from the photo rafts are floating down the main street now.  The Li River, which is their livelihood, has outdone itself.

      Our usual hotel is only a block over from this flood scene.  Our administrator lives on an upper floor not far from this street. I hope I hear from her soon. Electricity must be out because it was James in Sichuan who told me about the flood.  He was concerned about the flooding in Iowa and mentioned the flooding in Yangshuo. The world is getting to be a small place. 

      Many rivers in Southern China are in flood stage.  Guilin, a tourist town where we have two students, is also flooded. Emina sent me some photos she took of her college. She is studying at a tourism institute.    Downtown Guilin, where we have one middle school student who moved from Yangshuo, is also flooded.  First came the earthquake and now floods. China is hurting.