The Unity Initiative: Love In Action
Many years ago, we realized that since our hearts are with orphaned children, anything we could do to help PREVENT a child from becoming orphaned in the first place needed to become part of our mission as well. The sad reality is that thousands of desperate families in China each year abandon their children born with medical needs when they are unable to afford the surgeries or medical care their children require. Our Unity Initiative, which helps provide life changing medical care to children in poverty, is all about family preservation and the prevention of any family ever reaching that level of despair.
If you have ever been to our medical sponsorship page, you might have wondered why the Unity Initiative surgeries often cost far less than surgery for orphaned children. This is because for many impoverished families, the cost of their child’s medical care is partially covered by social welfare insurance provided by the government. Many times, this insurance will cover 1/3 of the cost of the operation, but then the family must come up with the rest.
Most families we work with do their best to borrow the remaining funds from their friends and family (or sadly even loan sharks), often going deeply into debt in an attempt to help their children. The reality though, is that most of them live in very poor and rural communities, so even when the local villagers try to help out, oftentimes a family is still thousands of dollars short of the amount needed for surgery to take place.
Bonnie Jean, whose family was unable to pay for medical care after she was attacked by a wild animal.
This is often when LWB comes in, standing alongside the family to provide the remaining amount needed for a child’s operation. We also help with very necessary expenses many families simply can’t afford, such as medications, follow-up appointments, and extended hospital stays. For example, we recently helped with conjoined twins whose surgery costs were mostly covered by local citizens, but when the children ended up needing colostomies, we were able to provide both supplies and a very specialized formula to help the babies regain their health.
It is for the reasons above that a heart surgery through Unity might only require $2,500 of funding, while a heart surgery for an orphaned child could cost $15,000 or more. Our Unity Initiative is usually a partnership involving the government, the hospital, the family, and LWB.
We have been honored to help families throughout China with our Unity Initiative. Often, these families are referred to us directly by hospitals when they learn of a family who had to be turned away due to their financial circumstances. Families then submit an application and their official “poverty certificate,” a government paper which usually explains why they are unable to afford medical care for their child. None of us like this part of the application, but it is sadly a part of the necessary verification we do to ensure donor funds go to families who are truly in need.
We also receive requests from village officials who have learned of our program, as well as requests directly from distraught parents. Many of the families we have helped in Shanghai, for example, often have traveled very long distances from their home trying to get medical care for their child, only to discover when they arrive that they could never afford the cost of care at one of the best hospitals in China. Thankfully many of them fatefully end up meeting one of our local team members, who let them know LWB could possibly help them.
This is a very emotion-filled program of course, since we are working with families who are frantically trying to find help for their children, while often feeling overwhelmed that their poverty will keep their children from receiving care. They joy and relief that these families experience when they know kind-hearted strangers from around the world believe their child’s life is important is immense.
One of the babies we just helped through our Unity Initiative is little Eddy. His family is from an extremely poor area of Shanxi province, filled with the dust of local coal mines. His parents had borrowed every penny they could from relatives in their village, but they were still several thousand dollars short of the funds required for surgery. Now fully healed and a glorious shade of pink, little Eddy was discharged from the hospital yesterday, heading home with his devoted mom and dad. That’s right where he’s supposed to be, isn’t it?
If you are someone who has a passion for the orphaned, we hope you will also agree that supporting family preservation is an essential part of our mission as well. We give thanks every time we are able to play even a small part in helping yet another family find the hope they’ve been searching for.
If you are looking for a life-changing project to support this holiday season, we invite you to put Love into Action and make a gift to the Unity Initiative.