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.
Jenny Bowen will be discussing her book and her mission on Monday, March 24, 2014 at our Colfax Avenue store. The event begins at 7:30pm and is free and open to the public