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Wish You Happy Forever: What China's Orphans Taught Me about Moving Mountainsby Jenny Bowen
Synopses & Reviews
In the summer of 1998, Jenny Bowen looked out her kitchen window onto her garden, and her life changed forever. Her three-year-old daughter Maya, whom she and her husband had adopted months earlier from an orphanage in China, had transformed from a vacant-eyed, sickly little girl into a joyous being thriving in an environment where she knew she was loved. Watching her daughter play, Bowen was overcome with the desire to help the orphaned children she couldn't bring home. And that's when Half the Sky Foundation was born.
Wish You Happy Forever tells the story of China's momentous progress in its treatment of orphaned and abandoned children. When Bowen began Half the Sky in 1998 determined to bring a caring adult into the life of every orphaned child, it seemed impossible that China would allow a foreigner to work inside government orphanages, let alone try to bring meaningful change. Inevitably, the pathway to collaboration was fraught with challenges: Bowen had to find ways to lead her organization past closed doors and naysayers, bureaucratic roadblocks and reluctant government officials, as well as natural disasters and flustered board members to realize her vision for a loving, more nurturing approach to child welfare in China. But despite the oceans and ideas that divide us, in the end, all of us want only good for our children. Now the Chinese government not only trusts but partners with Half the Sky to make life better for the children in its care.
To this day, Bowen is the only Westerner working with the Chinese government to transform its entire child welfare system from the inside, and Half the Sky, with fifty-two children's centers throughout the country, has helped more than a hundred thousand children. Bowen's beautifully written memoir, Wish You Happy Forever, teaches us that saving a child's life can transcend language and cultural barriers, and that, above all else, a determined dreamer with a loving presence speaks at the greatest volume.
"In this moving memoir, Brown, founder of Half the Sky Foundation, details her journey toward the establishment of nurturing conditions within China's bleak state run orphanages. After reading a 1996 newspaper article detailing the miserable conditions prevailing in Chinese orphanages, Bowen and her husband made a life-changing decision. 'So we set out on our adoption journey not to build a family — we had raised two lovely children, the nest was empty — but to save one life. That was how we saw it then.' Following the adoption of a Chinese baby girl, soon followed by a second adoption, Bowen was spurred to especially help female infants and those with special needs. Bowen chronicles the political, cultural, social and administrative obstacles encountered throughout the process of establishing her foundation. The couple, with their two daughters in tow, eventually moves to Beijing, hoping to raise awareness regarding the foundation's work. Bowen's remarkable narrative illustrates how dedication, compassion and love can create enormous change against incredible odds. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Both heartrending and victoriously uplifting, Wish You Happy Forever provides the backdrop on the lives of thousands of orphan girls and their foster grandmothers, teachers, volunteers, donors, and the ever-grateful adoptive parents. This is a must read for lessons on compassion, persistence, and true love.” Amy Tan, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club
“Jenny Bowen is a brilliant and amazing person. Her work and writing are great, profound and inspiring.” Anne Lamott
“An astonishing and inspiring tribute to the power of human imagination harnessed to passion and purpose.” Jane Pauley
Wish You Happy Forever chronicles Half the Sky founder Jenny Bowen's personal and professional journey to transform Chinese orphanages — and the lives of the neglected girls who live in them — from a state of quiet despair to one of vibrant promise.
After reading an article about the thousands of baby girls languishing in Chinese orphanages, Bowen and her husband adopted a little girl from China and brought her home to Los Angeles, not out of a need to build a family but rather a commitment to save one child. A year later, as she watched her new daughter play in the grass with her friends, thriving in an environment where she knew she was loved, Bowen was overcome with a desire to help the children that she could not bring home. That very day she created Half the Sky Foundation, an organization conceived to bring love into the life of every orphan in China and one that has actually managed to fulfill its promise.
In Wish You Happy Forever, a fish out of water tale like no other, Bowen relates her struggle to bring the concept of "child nurture and responsive care" to bemused Chinese bureaucrats and how she's actually succeeding. Five years after Half the Sky's first orphanage program opened, government officials began to mention child welfare and nurturing care in public speeches. And, in 2011, at China's Great Hall of the People, Half the Sky and its government partners celebrated the launch of The Rainbow Program, a groundbreaking initiative to change the face of orphan care by training every child welfare worker in the country. Thanks to Bowen's relentless perseverance through heartbreak and a dose of humor, Half the Sky's goal to bring love the lives of forgotten children comes ever closer.
About the Author
Jenny Bowen, a former screenwriter and filmmaker, is the founder and CEO of Half the Sky Foundation, an organization dedicated to reimagining care for orphaned Chinese children. Bowen received the American Chamber of Commerce's Women of Influence Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2007 and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2008.
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