205: A Second Chance at Childhood, with Jenny Bowen, OneSky
One Sky is an international NGO that works with governments and communities to help the most disadvantaged and marginalized children.
Jenny Bowen is a storyteller. In this interview, she tells the story of OneSky. I would also suggest that you pick up Jenny’s book, Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Children Taught Me About Moving Mountains. Because Jenny tells the story so well, I recommend the audiobook.
It seems like a simple concept. When children interact with loving parents, they learn…well, they learn everything. They learn a sense of self. They develop language and mobility and curiosity and so much more. But, not all children are so lucky as to have loving parents. In some extreme cases, children are neglected. They can wither and eventually die.
In 1996, Jenny Bowen and her husband Dick read an article about Children’s Welfare Institutions, or orphanages. They sat in stunned disbelief as they learned the mortality rate of children in these orphanages was upwards of 85%. They were moved to help, but they were not sure what exactly to do. It was Dick who first suggested that they could adopt one of the children and bring her home.
In 1997 Jenny and Dick adopted Maya from a Chinese orphanage. When they received their daughter, she suffered from parasites and dysentery. She was emotionally vacant.
Jenny says that she did what any mother would have done. She loved her daughter, interacted with her, read to her and paid attention to her. Maya’s development was subtle at first. But one year after adopting Maya, Jenny watched Maya play in the garden with other children. Jenny said to Dick, “It’s so easy…why don’t we do that for all the kids we can’t bring home?” She knew that she had to go back to China to help other vulnerable children like Maya.
Jenny’s story is one of incredible perseverance. She focused on solutions. She flowed like a river around immovable objects. When people did not say no, she took it as a yes. She transcended political, cultural and language barriers to find what was accessible to everyone: the love of children and the desire to see those children prosper.
Today, Jenny is the CEO and Founder of OneSky. She sees the problem of child development as a global problem. She says that about one-half of all children in the world will never reach their full potential because they don’t have access to the resources and love they need. OneSky for all children currently operates in China, Vietnam and soon, Myanmar.
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Jenny Bowen
“We focus on low resource communities.”
“It’s so easy why don’t we do that for all the kids we can’t bring home.”
“It wasn’t easy…Everyone told me that it would be impossible.”
“I couldn’t have done what I have done if I did not feel absolutely driven.”
“Our mission has grown to focus on what is universal in all children.”
“We were certainly living comfortable lives, and maybe we could save one life.”
“I knew what I had to do. I just knew it.”
Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
- OneSky: https://onesky.org/
- OneSky on Twitter: https://twitter.com/oneskyorg
- OneSky on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/onesky.org
- OneSky on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oneskyorg/
- Book: Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Children Taught Me About Moving Mountains: http://amzn.to/2xzyBNL
- Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book