Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bengbu volunteer - Steven Tao - graduates

Congratulations to Steven Tao, our dedicated volunteer in Bengbu, on his graduation from Bengbu Medical College with a Masters Degree!

Update on Bengbu - Local volunteers!

I'm so proud of our local volunteers in Bengbu!

After I left China, I am still in contact with the high school students. These fine young men and women have been volunteering in the orphanage, and have been spending time with the children, and have been teaching computer classes!

I am so proud!

Very high praise for the students and the new Chinese leaders of tomorrow for becoming involved in local charity for their community!

Here you can see Orphanage director Ms. Wan, the headmaster of Bengbu No. 2 middle school, who was once an orphan, and one of the students at the orphanage.

Last stop - Philip Hayden Foundation

My last stop on my journey to China was the Philip Hayden Foundation (Shepherd's Field, Langfang village), right outside of Beijing, in Tianjin.

It is a premier facility, all due to donations from caring people and organizations.

I had the pleasure of visiting with Dr. Moody, and looking in on Baby Emily, a girl we (at Packages of Hope) had been helping to sponsor to get treatment she needed.

She is thriving now, thanks solely to the staff at Philip Hayden. It was a story that I was proud to be a part of!

Please click HERE to see a video of this precious girl.

Mongolian Dinner - Chifeng

My time in Chifeng was painfully brief. But I was treated like an honored guest throughout my stay, and prior to my plane flight, I was treated as a guest of honor to a traditional Mongolian meal. During this ceremonial meal, a woman in traditional dress sang to me in a beautiful operatic voice, and by drinking 3 cups of Bijou, ensured that I would one day return again to this fair city.

You really do need to click HERE to see the stunning video of the sendoff I received, sung not in Chinese, but in the Mongolian language.

The ChiFeng SWI

I was honored to have a look at the ChiFeng SWI, which is a central orphanage serving all of eastern Inner Mongolia.

Orphanage director Yu was kind enough to show us all around the facility, and showed us the Special Needs facility that was recently made possible by foreign donations.

We were able to make a donation of a boiling water maker, and due to the fundraising efforts of Cathy Rigsbee, we are able to make a donation of a solar water heater.

Click HERE to see some of the precious children of the ChiFeng SWI.

Scenes of ChiFeng

The ChiFeng visit was due entirely to a beautiful boy named Nathan.

He was united with his forever family, the Rigsbee's, recently. His devoted parents wanted to do something for this orphanage, as it is relatively remote. We began correspondence with the orphanage director, and we found out the needs of the orphanage. I wanted to visit this place sacred to the Rigsbee family, in order to see how Packages of Hope could help.

While visiting, I was enriched by the Mongolian culture!

There were several interesting sights, that are definitely different than the other parts of China I have visited!

One of the things that was different was that the signs were all in dual languages. As you can see in the photo above, the bottom row is Mandarin Chinese script, whereas the top row is Mongolian (Manchu).

The food was also very distinct, and I was able to see the different food preparation techniques!

Click HERE to see these VERY interesting food preparation methods. Also, you can see me taking a look at how the city tends public parks by cutting the grass.

Also, while wandering down a street which was undergoing construction, I came across an interesting find - a pelvic bone. I'm pretty sure it was human, and I alerted a local attendant standing by a store front, but he didn't seem to want to do anything. (I photo'ed my shoe for scale)

We also visited the sacred mountain of ChiFeng, which has a very distinct red tint to the granite. We paid our respects to a buddhist shrine in a cave on the mountain.

Click HERE to see a video of this cave (username: packagesofhope, password: donate, you may have to enter it twice)

Train to ChiFeng

After a lunch hosted by the orphanage staff, I said my goodbyes to Siping, and headed for the train station.

Hannah, Helen, and I boarded a train for our 8 hour trek to ChiFeng, Inner Mongolia.

On the first leg of our journey, we had to travel via 3rd class, or "seated class". While this was a short leg of the journey, the quarters were cramped, and there wasn't any space for my two huge suitcases. (there are no baggage cars for "seated class"). Hannah managed to have my bags jammed towards the end of the cars, much to the consternation of some of the passengers.

(note to others -- when traveling via train, either make sure you can get sleeper seating arrangements, or pack light!)

Then, switching trains at TongLiao train station, we journeyed on to ChiFeng.
Click HERE to see some video of the train ride!