Last Saturday was Havana Night at the Shangri-la. Not only has it been coined as “The Qingdao Party of the Year”, but it was a great success in raising money for the Qingdao Expat Charity Group. I must confess that I volunteered by accident. My girlfriend secretly snuck me into a committee meeting so I can snatch a free meal at the Shangri-la and well..you know what a free meal leads up too. Suddenly I was working on the artwork and graphics for the event. Hmmm…come to think of it…maybe this was my friend’s plan all along???
That was in January. And the party was 2 ½ months later. I don’t have much history in working on charity functions, but I had no idea how we were going to get this off the ground. Most of the volunteers were total strangers. Many of us just arrived to Qingdao this year, and almost all of us were winging it. But somehow people found their niche in how they would serve best for the Charity, and then went to town. I met a lot of the volunteers for the first time at the event, but was already well acquainted with them through 11pm WeChat conference calls. But I genuinely believe that the only reason why we pulled this off in so little time was because of this silent, clear understanding of our goal: to raise as much funds as possible for these less fortunate children.
The Qingdao Expat Charity was started in 2001 to supplement tuition for children in rural areas, improve their school conditions, and provide vital financial assistance for special medical needs, in particular, open heart surgery for congenital heart disease. I had congenital heart disease due to a hole in my heart. My dad, who was a doctor, listened to my heart when I was a baby and heard an irregularity. At 7 years old, I had open heart surgery at the Cleveland clinic while my family waited for me at the Ronald McDonald house. And here I am now, thirty-some-odd-years later, in great health with 2 beautiful children, who are around the same age of my operation, 6 & 8 years old. It’s easy to complain about our daily routines- life in China sucks, my boss sucks, God-help-me if-Trump is our President, I spent too much at MixC the other day, gotta run to the hospital because I’m covered in hives, etc, etc. But I’m lucky. Really lucky. I wasn’t on a waiting list for the operation; I didn’t have to win a lottery to get treatment; And I wasn’t that one lucky person, out of a pool of other candidates, to get medical attention. We have health insurance, we have an income, we have a cushion in case the bottom falls out. These families the Charity supports have nothing. We were told that one of the newest candidate’s father was killed in a car accident and the mother, a local farmer, has no money. They need help. How hearing this puts life in perspective.
The Qingdao Expat Charity represents a cause that is very dear to my heart (quite literally). I am truly honored to have worked with such a great group of people for the Qingdao Expat Charity event. I have never been so impressed that total strangers can pool their resources together and make something so wonderful happen.
It’s Wednesday at 9pm. The night is still and my WeChat hasn’t buzzed once from you all. Until our next Qingdao Expat Charity event, sleep tight.
For information about the Qingdao Expat Charity group, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
WeChat ID: qdexpatcharity
Website: www. qingdaoexpatcharity.com