HandReach's goal is to see every child have a chance to reach his or her potential, so we work at three levels:
1. Individual children: HandReach helps rural children whose families cannot afford tuition or medical care that would allow them to attend school.
2. Institutions: We link institutions such as schools, hospitals, and youth programs to allow expertise, experience, and knowledge to be shared.
3. Society: We advocate for the poor and disenfranchised by leveraging resources and attention on behalf of those whose voices are often unheard.
Research released by the Chinese Red Cross Foundation (CRCF) recently shows that children account for 50 to 60 percent of the total burn-injured population in China alone, estimated to be about 10 million. Most burn-injured patients are the children of migrant workers or those in rural areas who suffer from financial difficulties. The May 12, 2008 earthquake in the Sichuan region of China resulted in the amputations of 15,000 â€“ 20,000 children, many of whom were inside their poorly-constructed school buildings when the earthquake hit. Data from the World Bank and the United Nations suggest that as countries industrialize and urbanize, higher concentrations of poor migrants, many of whom live in make-shift housing, produce higher numbers of burn injuries. As such, we note that the incidence of pediatric burn injury is on the rise in places like China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and elsewhere in Asia, as well as in Africa. Many pediatric burn injuries in Africa result from warfare and require even greater levels of psychosocial and rehabilitative care to remove children from danger areas and help them prepare for productive occupations. HandReach seeks to establish a firm footing by establishing model interventions in China before moving gradually into other regions of the world.
HandReach is primarily funded by grants from non-governmental organizations and foundations, and supplemented by donations from private citizens. Since its inception in 2002, HandReach has generated about $192,000 in revenue to provide educational grants, sponsor surgical and rehabilitative clinics, and provide medical and psychosocial education and materials to the physicians, hospitals, and children who need them most. HandReach was recently distinguished as one of America's Top 100 Charities in the Chase Community Giving Challenge. To date, HandReach has received over $100,000 in support from the Grace Family Foundation, $25,000 from the Chase Community Giving Campaign, $10,000 from the Seth Passell estate, and has applied for project and technology grants from the Cisco Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Cafritz Foundation, the Meyer Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as several other local and international foundations.
Though HandReach has worked collaboratively with similar charitable organizations such as Overseas Saving the Chinese Children Foundation, AngelMoms, and the 512 Children's List, the fact is that there is no American-based charity doing what we are doing internationally. Other organizations focus on sponsoring individual children who need trauma care, paying bills in the short term rather than working systematically to reform the system of available care over the long term. One model organization that we learn from is Smile Train, which works to train and develop resources in cleft palate surgery for clinicians in developing countries. However, organizations like Smile Train work on maladies that can largely be addressed in one procedure, whereas HandReach is working on complex injuries that require far more time and resources to heal. Whereas most other international health organizations sponsor one procedure for a child, HandReach works to ensure continuity of care until the child reaches adulthood at age 21. HandReach stands apart when one considers the productivity generated on such a lean budget. The ground-level expertise HandReach has acquired in China has us prepared us for the challenges of expansion to India, Indonesia, and Africa. HandReach's only hurdle is obtaining funding needed to expand our organization and implement our projects.
HandReach's management group is an international team of bilingual professionals with a wide range of expertise in communication, health care, international affairs, management, media, and public advocacy. Executive Director Dr. Brecken Chinn Swartz holds a Ph.D. in International Communication and a Masters of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and she is fluent in Chinese, with extensive experience working with some of the best pediatric burn units in the United States and China. Her adopted Chinese daughter, Zhou Lin, is the survivor of a severe burn to the lower 55% of her body, and Dr. Swartz has accompanied her on every step of the healing journey, from surgery to rehabilitation to psychological counseling. Vice Director Lingling Zhang is a Chinese national working on a Masters degree in Nonprofit Management who has extensive experience working internationally on accessible infrastructure systems in health care. HandReach's Board of Advisors is comprised of world-class pediatric burn specialists from Massachusetts General Hospital, Shriners Hospitals for Children, the Jaycees Burn Center at UNC Chapel Hill, and other specialists from around the country.
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