In the summer of 1998, Jenny Bowen looked out her kitchen window onto her garden, and her life changed forever. Her 3 year-old daughter Maya, whom she and her husband adopted months earlier from an orphanage in China, had transformed from a frightened, sickly little girl to a joyous being thriving in an environment where she knew she was loved. Watching her daughter play, Jenny was overcome with the desire to help the orphaned girls she couldn’t bring home. And that’s when Half the Sky was born.
Wish You Happy Forever tells the story of China’s momentous progress in its treatment of orphaned and abandoned children. When Jenny 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 change. But gradually, after witnessing Half the Sky’s quiet perseverance and miraculous success, the Chinese government now not only trusts, but partners with Half the Sky to make life better for the children in its care.
On a rainy day in 1997 when we met our little daughter, Maya, in Guangzhou, I began to learn what it means to a child to live a life without love. Just a year later, I looked out my window and saw our beloved toddler romping in the garden, so full of life and joy, looking for all the world like she’d always been adored. I suddenly understood just how resilient young children can be, and at that moment, I resolved to do whatever I could so that no more children should feel the hurt of being unwanted and alone. That was the day Half the Sky was born. And now, I wake up each morning knowing without doubt I can help make a child’s life better today … and I smile at my good fortune.
A former screenwriter and independent filmmaker, Jenny Bowen founded Half the Sky in 1998 in order to give something back to her adopted Chinese daughters’ home country and to the many orphaned and abandoned children then languishing behind institutional walls. Half the Sky’s five innovative programs now provide nurturing family-like care and enrichment opportunities for thousands of children of all ages. In partnership with China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, Half the Sky is now helping that country reimagine its entire child welfare system. Bowen received the American Chamber of Commerce’s Women of Influence Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2007, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2008, and the Purpose Prize in 2011. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her family.
Speaking Engagements: HarperCollins Speakers Bureau