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06/29/2011

HandReach's arrival in Beijing

Our HandReach team is all settled in Beijing now after spending our first couple days in China serving as the focal point for China's "First International Trauma Congress" that drew China's top names in burn care to a conference set up for us at the same hotel where the first International Conference on Women (organized by Hillary Clinton) was held in 1995.  We presented and heard talks on all aspects of trauma and burn care, from surgery to rehabilitation to psychosocial care.  There is so much more that we can and want to do with a conference like this in the future -- setting up roundtables and hands-on trainings around pertinent questions of the day -- and the wheels are already turning to set up deepening substantive dialogue in ways truly make a difference in making effective integrated burn care available to kids who are in most desperate need.

 

On the way from the conference center to Beijing last night, we were taken to the Great Wall, and members of our team settled themselves with gentle vibe drums (developed and built by our BeatBrigade director, Martin Isaac) in an ancient stone guard tower of the Wall where we made music that attracted an international group of visitors to form around us with delight and questions.  The music was soft, gentle, uplifting, and blended perfectly with the natural green landscape and birds flying on current of heat rising from Chinese soil.  Our team has been gelling in unbelievable, delightful ways that we all agree is truly magical.  We are truly excited to work together, and in meetings team members have agreed that there feels like karmic connection that has drawn us here somehow, to work with these children.

 

Last evening just as we arrived in Beijing, a beautiful story continued to unfold.  One of the patients we met years ago in Hunan who we've brought to Beijing for our  clinic this week is He Changti, who has been limited by devastating injuries sustained making fireworks for the Beijing Olympics.  Our young Spanish videographer, Gabriela Jaime, had posted a video about Changti's plight on a Chinese website to try to draw interest and funding to support his care, and the video was discovered by a woman named Xiaodan in Shanghai, a burn survivor who flew with her husband to Beijing as soon as we arrived to meet us.  The meeting was magical.  Xiaodan, an impressive cosmopolitan woman who works for Nielsen, gave Changti ideas and inspiration for a brilliant life ahead, and played a song for him on the piano ("Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga -- ha!) that she'd been working on ever since her burned hands began rehabilitation months ago.  She had never played piano before but had always wanted to, and she encouraged Changti to pick a goal he'd always wanted and put his whole heart to achieving it.  Changti picked driving as his goal -- he said he wants nothing more than to have the freedom to go where he wants to go, and to take others with him.  Xiaodan and her husband (a Canadian Chinese working for Microsoft in Shanghai) gave Changti an iPod Touch and plan to set him up with wireless access in his home in rural Hunan.  We all talked about working together to form a Chinese arm of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors here, with Changti (supported majorly by Xiaodan and her husband) as webmaster.   We all felt inspired and energized by the possibilities ahead.  Xiaodan and her husband expressed interest in joining HandReach's team at the World Burn Congress in Cincinnati in September.  She even asked me if I'd ever heard of Dan Caro!  I was able to show her photos of us with Dan at last year's Burn Congress -- she was thrilled.  She asked if she can help translate and release a Chinese-language version of Dan's book, "The Gift of Fire," since she feels his story is crucial for Chinese burn survivors to read.  We are beyond thrilled, and oh too happy to do whatever we can to help make this happen and get Dan to China for the inauguration for China's budding Phoenix Society.

 

It's time to meet the team soon and begin our clinic here at the Air Force General Hospital in Beijing.  We have bags bursting with supplies and instruments to open and organize, and plan to start with an engaging circle of drumming and activities for the children and parents at the hospital right at 9:00 this morning.  Kids have assembled here from all over China for this clinic, and our quick visit to the hospital yesterday drew hugs and tears and beautiful energy that's impossible to describe.  Team members Brock and Qi will be visiting local prosthetics factories and offices here in Beijing starting this morning to assemble the equipment and supplies we'll need to support the Prosthetics Unit Project we'll be inaugurating on Friday at the conclusion of our week here.

 

Thank you for all the prayers and support and energy you've sent to get us here.  Your spirit is with us, as ever, and we can't wait to be able to post photos and report back....

 

Love,

Brecken
June 27th 2011

 

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