Tonight, in a hospital in Dallas, Texas, a little boy sleeps. Xiao Dong Danny has had a long day, after his first cranio-facial surgery. The story of how Danny came to be in Texas to have surgery tomorrow is an amazing one. It’s full of interactions with organisations and individuals who all play a different role in serving orphans and vulnerable children around the world. Danny’s story shows when we work together, we can do amazing things.
Xiao Dong was born with a severe facial cleft and was abandoned soon after he was born, and he grew up in an orphanage. Six years later in the summer of 2012, he attended a summer camp for orphans run by a wonderful organisation called Bring Me Hope. Bring Me Hope run annual summer camps and after meeting the kids, advocate for them.
Soon after the camp ended, a volunteer from Bring Me Hope contacted Bethel China and asked if we had space to take Xiao Dong Danny into our care and welcome him into our school so he could receive an education. They sent us this photo…how could we resist?!
Danny’s orphanage agreed, and a few months later, he jumped (yes, literally jumped) with both feet into life at Bethel.
We began to look for options for Danny to receive surgery. Catherine, our speech and language pathologist advocated for and encouraged us to find the best surgeon we could fine as Xiao Dong’s facial differences are extremely rare.
We contacted one of our medical partners, the United Foundation for China’s Health who provide medical intervention to the underserved in China. We asked UFCH they could help us with Danny’s facial cleft and they suggested we seek advice from Little Flower Projects, who are very experienced working with infants with facial differences including cleft lip and palate.
Staff from Little Flower Projects saw Danny’s photo and immediately recommended we contact Dr Hobar, a skilled cranio-facial surgeon based in Dallas, Texas. Dr Hobar established LEAP Foundation, who run Landmark, a program in which children with complex surgical needs travel to the US for a series of surgeries, including a number of children from China. When they heard Danny’s story, they immediately wanted to use their resources to give him a better quality of life.
Next, Holt International stepped up to prepare legal documentation for travel. Holt International help orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children to thrive by finding families to love them. They have decades of experience working in their field and they generously shared their expertise and prepared Xiao Dong’s documents.
When Danny’s passport finally arrived at the beginning of September, The Archibald Project were visiting. The Archibald Project use media to tell stories that promote orphan care. They met Danny, played with him, then published their photos and gave their readers and opportunity to be a part of Danny’s story by asking them to fundraise towards his travel costs. Many people were moved to give and we were astounded by this incredible generosity. We hope they’ll be able to come and take some photos after his surgery to see the change!
Looking back on this list, it’s overwhelming to read the names of these fabulous organisations. Each one has a different focus, and each played a unique and invaluable role to Danny to come to Texas for this life-changing surgery. We can’t even begin to list the individuals who have supported him. We would like to thank EVERY organisation and individual who has played a part in Danny’s story so far. Your advocacy, advice, experience, photographs, medical care, and love and passion are making a huge difference to this one child, and his story is inspiring many more to step up and make a difference.
This story is far from over! There are many orphans in the world who need people to fight for them. We believe everyone can make an impact on behalf of the world’s children, including those who live next door. You can share their stories, sponsor a child, fundraise, foster, adopt, take photographs, provide meals for foster or adoptive families, volunteer, advocate, and donate your skills. You can be love.
When we all work together, we can truly help vulnerable children all over the world live life to the fullest.