Holding the Sky
One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air.
"What are you doing?" asked the elephant.
The hummingbird replied, "I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall.”
The elephant laughed cruelly. “Do you really think,” he said, "that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?”
The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose, as he replied, "Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do.”
– A Chinese Folktale
In 1997, Jenny and Richard Bowen adopted a toddler from a welfare institution in southern China. From that day, they received a harsh, first-hand education about the harmful effects of institutionalizing small children: their little girl suffered from severe delays and, most worrisome, she was emotionally shut down. Vacant. But after just one year of non-stop loving attention and care from her new family, she was transformed. Truly… a butterfly emerged from that lonely cocoon.
How easy it was to make all the difference in the life of one small child!
What if you could do the same for the many children in China who wait for families – and for those who will never be adopted? It was a simple idea. Why not?
And so, in 1998, Half the Sky, named for the Chinese adage, "Women hold up half the sky,"* was born.
*Although, even today, 95% of healthy abandoned infants are girls, the issue of child abandonment and the reasons behind it grow increasingly complex as China develops. Half the Sky serves all children residing in China's welfare institutions, regardless of gender or the circumstances that brought them there.