Not only does China account for over 20 percent of the entire world’s population, but there are nearly one million orphans in China born into poverty-stricken homes that lack a caring, nurturing and loving mother.
Half the Sky, created in 1997, is a nonprofit organization focused on helping orphans in China gain a second chance in life. The organization wanted to provide the basic necessities every child should have, which also included the nurturing care of a woman. Most people do not realize that the majority of China’s population live in mild to severe poverty, according to most western standards. Because of insufficient funds, many of the orphans have diseases, deformities and handicaps that go untreated.
“The organization’s goal is to raise money to support the programs that it has set up in coordination with the Chinese government,” said BYU alumnus Jeremy Pendleton, founder of Utah United for Half the Sky. “Half the Sky has multiple programs that range from building and renovating orphanages, to training otherwise unemployed women to work in the orphanages caring for and teaching the children. Even if a child hasn’t been adopted by the time they reach college age, Half the Sky will help fund their college education.”
Pendleton developed a love for the Chinese people and culture during his LDS mission in Taiwan. With the help of some mission friends, he got involved with Half the Sky during his senior year at BYU as a way to forget about himself and help others.
“We realized that all we ever talked about was our majors, our classes, our internships, our job search, our relationships, our engagements, our whatevers,” Pendleton said. “We felt like we had lost that spirit of service we felt on our missions and wanted to do something to give back. We decided to team up with Half the Sky to assist a cause we were passionate about.”
Utah United for Half the Sky is a satellite branch of Half the Sky. The mission of the satellite branch is to raise money through fundraisers and send it to the U.S. headquarters located in Berkeley, Calif. All proceeds earned go directly to the orphans.
“We have had one fundraiser event so far — a 5K/10K (run) back in April 2012,” said Kristy Yoo, acting president of Utah United for Half the Sky. “Runners ran along the Provo River starting in the Paul Ream Wilderness Park. We raised more than $3,000 from this one event. It was an amazing experience how everything came together, how many people showed up and so forth.”
Yoo said she has learned many lessons from being involved in Utah United for Half the Sky. Minoring in nonprofit management, she loved applying what she learned in textbooks to real-life situations.
“As someone who has been given much, I long to share my means and resources for the betterment of others in need,” Yoo said. “I do firmly believe that we should all be ‘anxiously engaged in a good cause.’ Whatever that good cause may be to you, immerse yourself in it. To me, this organization is a way to share my passion, to serve and to be edified in charity.”
Students can help Utah United for Half the Sky by attending the fundraising events. Yoo said that they are planning another 5K/10K marathon in April 2013. Students can find and like “Utah United for Half the Sky” on Facebook as well. The Facebook page will have upcoming events and fundraising outcomes information. Last year, records showed that Utah United raised $4,600 for Half the Sky.
Senior Jessica Lew, a physiology and developmental biology major and member of Utah United, said anyone’s donation would benefit the orphans and even change someone’s life.
“The small contribution of just one person can supply the funds necessary to save an infant by (funding needed) surgery,” said Lew. “They can also provide the necessary resources and education for the orphans to give them an opportunity to live a good life. Students can read the success stories and see the happiness that these children have because of their donations.”