Twelve Years of Love Without Boundaries
Last week, Love Without Boundaries celebrated its twelfth anniversary of touching lives in China. I was so busy working on different projects that I only had time to quickly think, “WOW,” before getting back to the business at hand. But this past weekend I went into my office and began looking through old files, pulling up the photos of children we’ve had the honor to help in some way and reflecting on their impact upon my own life.
The children who have come through the hands of LWB have stretched my heart in ways I never could have imagined. When my desire to help in China first began, I sat down with a friend and told her how scared I was to take this leap of faith to create a formal, registered charity. I remember saying that if we could somehow help even a handful of kids through our efforts, what an enormous gift that would be. She shared that when she had prayed for wisdom on what our next steps should be, an image of thousands of children’s faces entered into her mind. I honestly remember laughing and saying that I thought that was probably an overestimation of what we could accomplish!
This weekend twelve years later, I recalled her words and was deeply humbled to realize that her vision came true. Thousands of children have indeed been helped by LWB, and they have taught me more about determination and the strength of the human spirit than any adult I know. They will most likely never grace the front cover of magazines or be hailed as public heroes like many celebrity athletes and entertainers, but that is truly what they are. Quiet heroes — or as a recent adoption t-shirt summed up beautifully…”Braver than most.”
When I think of people who inspire me, kids come to mind before anyone else. Kids like Jenny, born with multiple medical issues which require frequent hospitalizations and surgeries. When we first heard from her orphanage, they told us directly that they knew she would die without our help. We almost lost her several times while she was in our care as her body become racked yet again with infection, and yet somehow that tiny little girl found the strength inside of her to keep going. Now that she is adopted, I follow her mom on Facebook so I can see her updates. Jenny continues to need ongoing medical care, but she always enters the hospital with her pigtails and a huge smile, carrying a bag of Lay’s potato chips as big as she is.
Whenever I start to get frustrated or tired, I think of Jenny and tell myself that if she can keep facing each day with such enthusiasm after all she has been through, then I certainly can too.
I think about kids like Scotty, whom I first met in a rural orphanage in western China. His nannies had no cleft bottles and were trying instead to feed him formula with a teaspoon, and so he had become weaker and weaker. As I approached his crib he opened his mouth to cry but was so frail at that moment that he was unable to make a sound. He took hold of my finger with his tiny hand and looked straight into my eyes, his stare silently letting me know that he was getting very tired of doing this fight on his own. The beginning of his life was a struggle just to keep going, and yet he didn’t give up.
Kids like Scotty should remind us that every child born is completely dependent on grown-ups to make sure they are protected, and yet again and again around the world we as adults fail them. This past weekend I found this photo of Scotty taken a month or so after he had come to live in our care, and it brought tears to my eyes.
All children deserve to have such obvious feelings of joy and love…but for millions of children living in hard situations, that sadly isn’t the case.
We all wish for the day when there are no longer orphans or no longer kids living in complete poverty, don’t we? But I am enough of a realist to know that there will always be children who are hurting, and so there will always be a need for organizations like LWB.
It is easy to think, “What difference could I possible make?” when the numbers seem so overwhelming, and so this is where I am going to insert one of my most favorite quotes of all, because over the last twelve years I have learned the depth of its truth:
To the world you might be just one person, but to one person…you just might be the world.
All of us at LWB have come to realize that it is perfectly okay to change the world for the better, one child at a time. Helping Jenny stay alive until her adoption was a blessing which cannot be measured. Helping Scotty get his second chance is a gift I will carry in my heart forever. Each individual child’s life is truly worth it all.
Today I want to give my deepest thanks to all of the amazing volunteers, team members, supporters, and friends who have believed in our vision of bringing hope and healing to kids in need. None of this work is possible without an entire community of people coming together to invest in the lives of children. Twelve years in, Love Without Boundaries has become a beautiful international network of thousands of committed people. Being able to work alongside so many remarkable and caring individuals is absolutely extraordinary.
Happy birthday LWB! You have grown beyond my wildest dreams. As we move into Year 13, may we never stop believing that every child born deserves love and that every life we can touch is a blessing.
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer