It was a two weeks that will always be etched in my memory, but something happened in those two weeks that changed me forever.
Of course I was head over heels in love with my beautiful new daughter who was placed in my arms within the first 24 hours of arriving. We spent our days getting to know each other and exploring her country, her people, her customs and culture. I was mesmerized by it all.
Our time in China seemed to fly by. As we packed our bags to leave, I felt overcome with sadness. I was anxious to come home and be reunited with my husband, children, the rest of our family, and close friends, but at the same time, I was not ready to say goodbye to my daughter’s country. I saw so many things that pulled hard at my heart and raised many questions in my mind.
The next day, as the plane pulled away from the gate, I held Reagan tightly in my arms. My heart was heavy and tears ran down my face. I made a promise to her and to myself that one day we would return to her motherland and no matter what, I was going to try to keep in communication with her orphanage and possibly try to help them and the children that are still residing in China.
A month after we were home, I was contacted by Half the Sky.
I journal-ed our trip and somehow a link to my blog was passed to someone on staff.
After reading my posts and viewing my photos, they could tell that there was a giant piece of my heart and myself that still remained in China. They wanted to know if I would be interested in doing some volunteer work for their organization. I think it took all of ten seconds for me to reply with a “yes”. I felt that this was definitely a way that I could giveback and maybe make the slightest difference for some of these children.
In January of 2011, I kicked off the first of a series of photography classes that would benefit China’s children through Half the Sky. I donated a large portion of each class enrollment to Half the Sky. It was a very successful year and I thought I was done for 2011 when I offered my last round of classes in September.
As the holidays approached, I felt like we needed to do more….or something special for Christmas.
Which is when “Fill Their Stockings With Hope” was born.
Stefanie, Diana, and I reached out to everyone for help in November and were asking for items that people were willing to donate for our cause. I wanted to contribute, but I was not sure what I could offer…….
Then I remembered a few of my favorite photos from China… the very photos filled with many memories that prompted my conversations with Half The Sky and ultimately led me to do some volunteer work for them.
There was the beautiful bridge in Martyrs Park in Changsha(Hunan Province)that has captivated many.
I remember this day like it was yesterday. Marla and I walked all over that park, Reagan on my chest in the Ergo, our cameras were snapping away trying to capture every last detail of all that surrounded us. It was one of our favorite site-seeing trips. The people were so friendly and would stop and pose their children so we could take their photos.
This intriguing girl who was sitting on pile of rubble while eating her lunch on BieJie Street in Chenzhou City just a few yards away from Reagan’s finding place and down the street from the Chenzhou SWI. Her presence literally stopped me in my tracks.
I remember looking at this young girl and wondering if this could be a glimpse into Reagan’s life had she not ended up in the orphanage. We were passing many school children on the street that day as it was lunchtime and they were on break. They were all in some sort of uniform, this girl was not. If I had to guess, she did not go to school. I think her parents owned the shop she was sitting in front of and she probably stayed there with them all day.
These photos totally captivate me. Her clothes, the jump rope around her neck, the bowl of rice in her hands, the chopsticks, and if you really zoom in, you can even see the dirt on her hands.
When they say that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, they are not kidding.
So many thoughts evoked by these two photos of this Chenzhou beauty.
I find all three of these photos so very special and my hope is that maybe a few of you do too.
So, if you are still with me….. this is what I you have an opportunity to win.
You will get to choose one of the three photos in this post, and I will have an 18 x 24 inch canvas printed and shipped directly to you.
If you are not sure what a canvas print looks like, click HERE to see a few photos I recently had converted to canvas. THEY ARE GORGEOUS! No frame needed, just a nail and a hammer and you are good to go.
It is like a beautiful piece of art hanging on your wall.
Could you see one of these photos hanging in your home?
Here is what you need to do:
We ask that you consider making a donation of $5.00 or more.
If you choose to donate, simply use our “CLICK TO DONATE” button below and you will be directed to the Half The Sky donation page that was set up for this event. Your donations are going directly to Half The Sky, which is a non profit organization that makes a difference in the lives of many children that reside in orphanages throughout China. It is also possible to enter without donating. To do that, leave a comment that includes your name and email address so we can contact you should you win. All winners must have a shipping address in the United States or Canada.
You have until 11:59pm Eastern Time, Tuesday December 20th to enter.
Good luck and I wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone that has supported me through this event and through my photography classes this year. Without all of you, I would not be able to giveback and make these wonderful contributions and support Half the Sky.
A special note: All donations made to Half the Sky at this time will be matched by Jenny Bowen, the founder of Half The Sky and two of their Board Members. Jenny has recently won the 2011 Purpose Prize and has decided to match all contributions made to their foundation until they accumulate $375,000
How exciting and generous is that?
You can see Jenny’s video HERE. WOW, what an inspiring and amazing woman. If you have a few minutes, it is something you will definitely want to watch.
The winner will be announced later this week!