Beijing -- Thu, Jun 23, 2005
In the past two days we have met with Special Olympics East Asia, Stars and Rain (one of the only schools in China for children with Autism), and Trek Beijing. This whirlwind trip has ended highly successfully. Special Olympics and Trek have agreed to help with publicity and Stars and Rain has agreed to help with our volunteer days. But moreover -- we got to spend three hours with an incredible organization.
Stars and Rain was founded in 1992 by Tian Huiping and the story is absolutely incredible. She had to fight through bureaucracy and public perception in a time when children with disabilities were (and still are) hidden from society and there was little government or community support for her actions. Her son is just about Blake's, my little brother, age and was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old.
You can only imagine how she felt in a country with absolutely no social support and a culture that expects your children to provide for you in your old age. She says, "I felt depressed, alone; I did not know what to do." But she somehow overcame these feelings and has now established the premier school for children with autism in China. Fang Wen Guang put it best when he whispered to me, "I have learned more in this day that I have all year in school." An amazing woman -- a true hero.
Baoding -- Sat, Jun 18, 2005
Fang Wen Guang and I just completed our longest training ride yet 180km in the scorching heat. We were a bit bruised and battered by the end, but nothing a little food and peijou couldn't fix.
We met a Japanese fellow biking from Japan to Portugal on our trip. He was alone, on a mountain bike, and had clothes and gear that weighed at least 75lbs. We hear he is in Xi'an now -- we'll try to keep you posted about his travels as well.