Written by Margaret Mark (POP Core Committee Co-Chair)
The definition of charity is the act of giving money, food, or other assistance to those who are poor, sick, or in need. YCIS has supported many opportunities for our community to provide these acts of kindness through charity, and one of those charities is Heart to Heart. Heart to Heart is a non-profit charity that funds life saving heart surgeries for poverty stricken Chinese children. Throughout the year, we have hosted events to raise funds for this great cause. In April, we hosted the Spring Charity Brunch and together with other POP and student-run events, we raised a total of 270,000rmb which is enough to provide 9 necessary heart surgeries. There have been, so far, 4 surgeries that have been completed.
My boys (Jack and Henry) and I, as well as, Amy Chu and her children (Nicolas and Alison), visited the first surgery recipient on June 7. His name is Xu Zihao and he is a 5-year old boy from Jiangsu Province who was accompanied to the hospital by his grandmother. He had his surgery on June 1 and we were his first visitors. Another YCIS parent – Michelle Chen, together with her daughter Abigail – was able to visit the second surgery recipient on June 10. Her name is Fan Yuqing, a 6-year old girl, also from Jiangsu Province, who was accompanied by her father. Her surgery was on June 8 and Michelle and Abigail were her first visitors.
Initially, there were feelings of fear, anxiety and curiosity for our own children who all range from K4 to Y6. But after visiting with Xu Zihao and Fan Yuqing and seeing that they all shared similar feelings, albeit for different reasons, helped them relate.
In preparation of our visit, we all discussed with our children the reason and importance of the hospital trip as these children needed surgery to fix their “broken” hearts as my youngest son labelled it. We wanted them to know the reasons why, as a school, we would have bake sales, used book sales, collect donations and raise funds at a brunch. We wanted them to know that it just wasn’t another weekend brunch with face painting and a bouncy castle. But more importantly, that the charity brunch actually meant something – helping those in need.
Upon arriving at the hospital, a Heart to Heart volunteer met us and gave us a tour of the Heart to Heart facility which consists of a playroom and storage room. The playroom is adorned with a colorful, large 3m puzzle mural and houses an age range of toys and books for the children to use and to have a change of pace from their hospital room. The storage room is where the Heart to Heart volunteers sort and organize clothing, toiletries, and toys which are given to the patients and their families as many of them arrive in Shanghai with only the clothes on their back. The families are also provided with food vouchers as we were told that many come with only 20RMB for the entire week. All the items within the two rooms are generously donated.
Being in the hospital room filled with hope and the emotional gratitude of the families, having been provided with an unforeseen, life changing opportunity, gifted us all with a better understanding of the meaning of charity. We all look forward to continuing to provide additional support to Heart to Heart in the future.