Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains
Evening Presentation by Jenny Bowen, Founder & CEO, Half the Sky
Drinks Reception at 6.30 pm
Presentation at 7.00 pm
Close at 8.00 pm
In the winter of 1996, Jenny Bowen, a mother of two grown up children with an established film career came across a newspaper photo of a dying child, one of thousands of baby girls languishing in Chinese orphanages. This changed the world as she knew it, completely and forever. Ms. Bowen and her husband adopted a little girl from China, not out of a need to build a family but simply to save one child. Their new daughter came home weak, malnourished, delayed and shutdown – a poster child for all that is wrong with an orphanage upbringing. Just a year later, as she watched her toddler romping around in the garden, full of joy and giggles, Ms. Bowen was overcome with a new resolve. She must do what she could to bring the same nurturing care and love to those many thousands of children left behind. The ones she couldn’t bring home. With a few friends and a handful of experts, she created Half the Sky, an organization committed to bringing a caring adult into the life of every orphaned child in China. Without knowing a word of Chinese or anything about China or government relations or running a nonprofit or even much about child development, Ms. Bowen set out to convince the Chinese government to re-imagine its entire child welfare system. Incredibly, she did. In Wish You Happy Forever, author Jenny Bowen relates the humor and heartbreak of her dogged efforts to become the voice of forgotten children, wards of what seems to be an intransigent government on the other side of the world. Wending their way between bemused Chinese bureaucrats and internal board battles, Ms. Bowen and the kids emerge triumphant. Today, Ms. Bowen is the only westerner working with the Chinese government to train every child welfare worker in the vast nation, and “Wish You Happy Forever” allows readers to follow her journey.
Jenny Bowen, a former screenwriter and filmmaker, is the founder and CEO of Half the Sky Foundation, an organization dedicated to reimagining care for orphaned children. Ms. Bowen received the American Chamber of Commerce’s Women of Influence Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2007 and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2008. She lives with her family in Berkeley.