When Transparent Fish Fund first started in 2008, we had two goals: to provide both heart surgery and poverty relief care for the poorest children in Gansu suffering from congenital heart disease.
Heart Surgery Program Launched
Because of the critical need for heart surgery, we started with the Little Red Scarf Heart Surgery program first. At that time there were 6,000 children in Gansu with CHD. Most of them wouldn’t survive beyond 10 years. Our dream was to save 1,000 lives and for our friends to join us in helping the rest.
1,000+ Lives Saved
In March 2014 we were delighted to reach our goal of saving 1,000 lives. As we celebrated that milestone, we also recognized the growing involvement from the community. Our friends and family joined us in this mission, covering all families since then. We were even able to expand the heart surgery efforts to Yunnan province, helping build the local hospital capacity and training staff to detect congenital heart disease symptoms in newborns there.
Influencing Government Policy
We hoped that over time, our work would not just be an NGO effort. And as we had desired, our pioneering efforts prompted the local Chinese government to get involved. Seeing what we were doing in their province, the Gansu government established a policy to provide more subsidies for the poor, a policy which other provinces did not have in effect. Their aid to impoverished children in Gansu has increased to the point so that last year and this year the government has covered simple heart surgeries, and we’ve focused on the more complex ones. Together our impact is all the greater.
Adopt a Family Program Launched
With the government policy enabling the heart surgeries to be more sustainable, it was time for us to move forward on our second goal—poverty relief care after surgery. In May 2015, we launched a new Little Red Scarf Care program called Adopt a Family.
As our field staff visited the different Gansu families in their post-surgery follow ups, they realized that some families were really uplifted after the surgery. However, other families were still so poor that their poverty issues were still weighing them down.
50 Unique Families in Need
Our field staff selected 50 of these post-surgery families in most need to provide poverty relief. Each of the families has its special needs, and therefore requires a custom way to become more sustainable.
As we develop a trusting relationship with the families, we want to demonstrate our commitment to them. We are not just helping them with the heart surgery and then leaving them to fend for themselves. We see the heart surgery as the first opportunity to help, and then we want to follow up with caring for their very livelihood and well-being.
Hongyan’s Journey Continues
Take Hongyan, for example. She was our 1000th child to receive heart surgery. This operation transformed her from a girl who couldn’t even walk on her own to an active, healthy child. Yet her family still struggles with poverty as they labor in the fields.
When our staff visited Hongyan after surgery, they discovered more about her family’s needs. The family expressed interest in raising livestock to have a source of income besides farming. So our donors have the opportunity to provide funds for them to purchase sheep and a pig.
Invitation to Get Involved
We want to include our supporters in not just financial contributions, but also in developing a relationship with the local families. In this way, we are helping them become more sustainable and encouraging them.
Through our donors’ generosity, so far we have sponsored more than 20 of the families through the Adopt a Family program since May. With your partnership, we look forward to supporting the rest!
Based on what we learned from the pilot project in 2015, our plans for moving forward will be more focused on educating the children, which is a constant need. Millions of rural children in China are left behind in the countryside by parents seeking work in the cities. We plan to use technology-based curriculum and study incentives to help these children progress toward a college education. Join us as we seek creative and effective ways to help these rural families improve their quality of life.
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