SARS and the Coronavirus

February 14, 2020 — Leave a comment

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, it has brought back many memories of when I was teaching at a university in China in 2003. If you recall, that was when SARS broke out. I am going to share a photograph with you from the end of the SARS outbreak.

People were truly frightened by SARS, and rightfully so. For anyone who hasn’t been to China and witnessed the population density, well, you just can’t imagine how many people live in close proximity to one another. That is how a virus can spread so quickly in China.

To help you understand, I will share with you what the director of the special needs orphanage told me when she shared with me that the main thing she wanted when we remodeled the kitchen was a dishwasher.  Believe me, there were several pressing needs to be addressed when we remodeled the kitchen; but she told me that the reason she wanted a dishwasher so badly was that, when one child got sick, they all got sick. She had no way to sterilize the dishes, so what she told me made perfect sense! Does that help you understand how quickly a virus can spread in China?

At the university, I truly felt sorry for the freshmen. They were all at a different campus outside of town, and nobody was allowed to leave. So, these were 18 year old students away from home for the first time, and they couldn’t go home or leave the campus. For me, if I wanted to leave the campus, which was in the city, I had to wear a badge; and I had to wear the badge to return to the campus. Honestly, back then the air quality was so ugly that many people were wearing masks before the SARS virus infected so many people. The university did all they could to protect everyone. The classrooms, offices, and apartments for the teachers were all sprayed with a liquid designed to kill germs. I think the local TV station sent a crew to film this, so everyone would know the government was doing all it could, and so the parents of the students could have fewer worries.

When the semester was over, which ended a week early because a holiday had been canceled due to the travel restrictions, I took a bus from my small city to Shanghai. Before we left the small city, our temperature was taken. A Chinese cardiologist was sitting near me who spoke English very well, and I became very thankful for him. As we approached Shanghai, the bus pulled off the road by a large tent. The doctor told me we were going to walk through the tent and have our temperature taken. At the end of the tent was a large opening, and if we were told to go to the left, that meant we didn’t have a temperature and we could get back on the bus. If we were told to go to the right, that meant we had a temperature, and we would be taken to some unknown location for at least 2 weeks, and nobody would be able to communicate with us. Yes, that got my attention, and I knew I didn’t want to be put into a quarantine facility! 

I am thankful to say that I survived SARS! Hopefully this story will help you to have compassion for those in the Coronavirus prone areas. Please remember the population density is a huge factor there, and like my friend said — if one child gets sick, they all get sick!

During my recent trip to India, I visited the Baby Adoption Center, which is an orphanage supported by Global Partners in Life.  As always, the orphanage that specializes in getting infants adopted was amazingly clean and orderly. 

One of the ways success is measured for them is by working through the proper agencies and finding adoptive families for the babies.  Would you like to hear some of their unique stories?

Baby Adoption Center in India

The little girl in this photo is one of the children that has been adopted by a family from another country.  Her new forever home is in Italy!

Baby Adoption Center in India

The little girl in the photo above loves to be put in the cradle that swings.  From what I am told, she will go to sleep in about 2 minutes if she isn’t hungry!  She was found abandoned on the side of a road.  There were ants biting her on her cheek and one ear.  Thankfully, all of those marks have gone away!

Baby Adoption Center in India

This baby was abandoned, and she may have had a premature birth.  If I remember correctly, she only weighed about 3 pounds when she was discovered.  Now she is healthy and looking for a forever home!

There was one special needs baby at the orphanage during this visit, and to my knowledge, this is the first special needs baby they have had.  She has partial development of one hand and one arm, and one of her ears seems to lay flat against her head, but other than that, she appears to be healthy.

Thanks so much to the people supporting Global Partners in Life!  As you can see, our donors are having life changing impact on the lives of orphans around the world!

For the second time, my travels have taken me through the airport in Doha, Qatar. Each time I have been impressed — if not amazed — by the high end shopping available… at an airport, of all places. If you want any famous label on your clothes, purse, or jewelry, then the airport in Doha is the place to go. Would you like to see some examples?

Mclaren cars at the Doha, Qatar airport

Mclaren is considered one of the fastest and best made cars in the world. In fact, they fall into the Super Car category. I don’t know how much this one would cost, but hopefully they will negotiate the price! I must admit, this was the first time I had seen a Mclaren in an airport!

Expensive beverages at the Doha, Qatar airport

In the shopping areas, I saw many bottles of expensive alcoholic beverages. Some of the bottles were quite large, as you can see in the photo above. 

Tea options at the Doha, Qatar airport

Speaking of beverages, apparently tea is taken very seriously in Qatar. As you can see from this display, you can have many different ways to prepare your tea, and there are several different types of tea to enjoy.

In the event your travels lead you to Doha, Qatar’s airport, you may want to budget a little extra time and money for shopping. Enjoy your traveling!

If you read my last blog, you would have seen that Global Partners in Life is now serving in Peru. I have found an organization that not only helps orphans, but helps widows as well. The orphanage is called New Life Children’s Home and it is located east of Lima, Peru, in an area called Cieneguilla, Peru. After my first visit, I must tell you I was very impressed… would you like to see why?

New Life Children’s Home

One of the first things I noticed was the large and very clean dining room and kitchen. The staff at New Life Children’s Home are very capable of providing nutritious meals, and yes, even birthday cakes in their industrial sized kitchen. The food I had there was absolutely delicious!

New Life Children’s Home

Probably the first thing I noticed about this children’s home was the wall surrounding the facility. Not only does this keep the children safe, but it had a colorful paint job as well. The children had lots of open space for playing and many different activities available for them. In the photo above, you can see the trampoline, swing set, rock climbing wall, and a structure like Noah’s Ark. In the photo below, you can see the basketball court that also is a soccer (excuse me, but it is called football in Peru) field! 

New Life Children’s Home

The facility was amazingly clean! For the most part, the children live in barracks based on their gender and age. One of the most amazing facts about the New Life Children’s Home is they try to maintain one nanny for every 4 children, and the nannies actually live in the barracks with the children for whom they provide care. To my knowledge, there is only one child there with a special needs, which is different from the main orphanage we provide for in China. Check out how clean and organized the barracks are in the photographs below!

New Life Children’s Home
New Life Children’s Home

I am very happy to be able to give support to the New Life Children’s Home! The leader of the facility works very closely with the government trying to meet the needs of the children and help find adoptive families for the children. In fact, while I was there, a brother and sister were told they were going to be adopted by a family in the States! 

For those of you that support Global Partners in Life financially, thanks so much! Because of you, the children in Peru are being cared for at a high level while waiting to be adopted! For that, I will never be able to say thank you enough!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

South of the Border

December 13, 2019 — Leave a comment

As I try to increase the size of the impact of Global Partners in Life, I look for reputable people that are serving orphans and widows. I just found a potential partner in Peru. Obviously, I wanted to check them out, so I just had my first trip to Lima. Would you like to see some of the sights?

All of the photos I will show you today are from an area near the airport in Lima. I am not sure what this building is, but I do know I saw several government buildings, historical buildings, and some museums. 

As you can see from the photograph above, some of the buildings truly had some unique characteristics.  This particular building was on one of the main streets going through Lima.

In the photo above you will find another beautiful building. The airport is near the coast, and for some reason, the coast is much colder than just 12 miles to the east. My apologies for the glare on this picture!

The last two photos are of some of the larger buildings I saw. The Peruvian people are very proud of their culture, heritage, and independence they won from Spain. They have many plazas and parks, which many people enjoy. The parks are nestled in between the buildings and traffic. It was interesting to see how just a small space would be used for a park, and many people would enjoy it, and you can see in the photos below. By the way, the next two photographs are not as close to the airport as the buildings.

If you have ready many of my blogs, you know I enjoy traveling. I can tell you my trip to Peru went well, and I look forward to sharing more with you about the trip. Hopefully you can enjoy some trips soon as well!

At the special needs orphanage supported by Global Partners in Life, there was a girl that had a huge smile that would make anyone who saw it happy.  Unfortunately, she is no longer there — she was one of the many children removed from the orphanage by the government, because she didn’t have any official registration and she had never been adopted. Would you like to meet her?

Another unfortunate thing about this little girl named Qi Qi is that she had spina bifida with the tethered spine syndrome. What all that meant was that she had a hole in her spine at birth, but it was surgically closed. Also, she had no feeling from her waist down, and she couldn’t walk well at all, and she had to wear a diaper, so she couldn’t attend school. Additionally, she would get sores on her lower body, like her foot that would never completely heal.

Many different medicines were tried to help her with this wound.  Both Eastern and Western medical approaches were tried, and sometimes the wound would almost heal, but then it would open again. Through all of the daily treatments and medicines, she never seemed to let this health issue get her down.

What is troubling to me is that now she has been removed from the special needs orphanage and I can’t learn how she is doing. I truly care for Qi Qi, but now that she is in the government’s care, I doubt I will ever see her again.

There is a new government program in China which guarantees orphans an education and medical treatments, and I have been told by an American doctor this program has been good so far. I do take comfort in that, but I would still love to see her smile again and know how she is doing. Watching her grow up and then suddenly she is gone has been difficult for Qi Qi, the lady that leads the special needs orphanage, and me! 

I am very thankful for the supporters of Global Partners in Life, who enabled us to provide for Qi Qi and meet her needs while she was at the special needs orphanage.     

Learning from Traveling

November 15, 2019 — Leave a comment

It would be very difficult for me to itemize all of the different and surprising things I have seen and learned during my travels to Asia, but I am thankful for all to which I have been exposed. Some things were a little more expected and less of a surprise than others, but always interesting to see. Would you like to see some of the sights from a trip to India?

The photo above was taken in a small city in eastern India. I have no idea how this young lady could keep the sack on her head balanced as she wove through the traffic, but I was impressed — and I knew I didn’t want to do that myself! This sight became very common as I spent more time in India, and I have never seen anyone drop the load off their heads prematurely. 

Many times I saw a water buffalo or an ox pulling wooden carts in India, but I was not sure about what these animals were. They had the bodies of a cow, but I am not sure about their horns. I haven’t seen this combination before.

Being from the Atlanta area, you know I am a Coke guy when it comes to my cola preference. In India, Coke is called Thums Up, and I can’t say that it taste exactly like what we have in the States, but it is very close. Now, if I could just find some that were cold when it is 100 degrees and 100% humidity!

I was never truly into academia, but I can say that I do enjoy learning by traveling. There are many things you can learn through traveling that simply are not in books . . . but books are a great way to learn also. 

How about you? Do you have your next trip planned? This week I booked a trip, and I can’t wait to share with you about it! 

Recently I reviewed photos from a trip to China in 2014, and I realized the impact the donors of Global Partners in Life were having should be shared.  In a very short series of photos, I obtained some amazing young people struggling to have a healthier life.  Would you like to see them?

This little friend of mine just had the second of 3 surgeries for a cleft palate. He already had the surgery to close his lip, and this surgery closed the gap in his gums. The third surgery is to close the gap in the roof of the mouth, but it must be performed when the child is considerably older. He must have had lots of swelling, because I have never seen the breathing device inserted in the nose like that. Oh, and his cheeks are pretty plump also! This little guy has an incredible amount of energy, so it is unusual to catch him sleeping!

As you can see in the photograph above, this little boy is getting individualized care. Through the donations to Global Partners in Life, we were able to pay for a medical procedure which implanted a stint to allow drainage for this young boy with hydrocephalus. Again, through the generous gifts to Global Partners in Life, we are able to pay the salary for the lady providing care for the boy. Her name is Loa, and she is over 70 years old and she has a bad back. Her husband wants her to retire, but she says she loves the children too much to stay away from them. Loa and her husband have reached a compromise, and she has reduced the number of hours she works each week.

On behalf of the people in need, Global Partners in Life, and myself, I want to thank everyone that gives their time, talents, and funds to help others who can’t provide for themselves. Who knows, it could be you in need one day!    

There is continued good news from China! I know some of you may have heard negative things about China on the news, but there is something happening there that is an improvement. Would you like to know what it is?

The air quality in Beijing is improving at an amazing rate! The photo above was taken in the afternoon during the winter, so the sun was lower in the sky, and you can tell by the lack of leaves it was winter. The sun wasn’t brilliant and clear that day; rather it was dull from all of the air pollution.  Many times I have taken groups to China and our flight would arrive in the afternoon. While walking up the ramp (which had windows on each side) from the plane to the airport terminal, my friends would say, “Oh, it is going to rain today.” As I kind of chuckled to myself, I would explain to them the air in Beijing just looks like that on some days.

When I lived in Beijing several years ago, I lived on about the 20th floor of an apartment building. On some days it was difficult for me to see the telephone poles by the street from my apartment window. So, I am very happy to report that Beijing has done a marvelous job of improving their air quality. 

The photo above shows a building in Beijing. As you can see, now there is a beautiful blue sky!

Some industries have been invited to relocate outside the city, and I think that has had a positive and visible impact on the skies over Beijing. Public transportation is available and encouraged in Beijing, which has also helped control the air pollution. 

If you had considered travel plans to Beijing and were concerned about the air quality, I would encourage you to book your trip! Based on what I have seen, it would be surprising to me if you saw a return to the days of horrible air pollution. Maybe I will see you there!

If you have read many of my blogs over the last few months, you may have noticed many of them were about a group of rural elderly widows near Gumma, India. These ladies have varying degrees of health challenges, but they all have one thing in common; unfortunately, that commonality is a sense of hopelessness. 

Today I wanted to share the story of another new friend I met earlier this year during a trip to India.  Would you like to meet her?

The lady in the photograph above is Marthama Pani. We know she is over 65 years old, but we are not exactly sure of her age. Her story is a sad one for us to hear, but it must be a heart crushing one to live through.

In the local culture, the oldest son should take of his widowed mother. Unfortunately, there are not many consistent employment opportunities in the area, so many guys are day laborers. The expense of having his mother in his home was more than the son could afford; so when he kicked his mother out of his house, he gave her a bowl and said, “here is a bowl, now go and beg the rest of your life!”

Global Partners in Life is in the process of building a facility in Gumma, India to provide housing for 20 elderly widows! We have actually broken ground in July, and the progress is continuing. This facility will have an industrial kitchen, which will provide three meals a day for the ladies, and it will have clean running water and restrooms for them. Additionally, the facility will have a dining hall, sick room, bedrooms, and a conference room for meetings and counseling. 

If you would like to help us complete the facility, please visit our website at https://globalpartnersinlife.org/ and make a much needed donation. I would be extremely grateful for any support you could give for this worthy project for these truly needy elderly widows!