(90) learning to work within the system

Title: Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope inside a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt
Publisher: Mariner Books
352 Pages
Genre: non-fiction

Synopsis: Irrepressible memories. Vacant eyes. A child being dangled from a third story window. A boy tied to a chair. Children sleeping in layers of clothing to fight off the bitter cold. An infant dying from starvation. Some things your mind will never allow you to forget.

Silent Tears is the true story of the adversity and triumphs one woman faced as she fought against the Chinese bureaucracy to help that country’s orphaned children.

In 2003, Kay Bratt’s life changed dramatically. A wife and mother of two girls in South Carolina, Bratt relocated her family to rural China to support her husband as he took on a new management position for his American employer. Seeking a way to fill her days and overcome the isolation she experienced upon arriving in a foreign country, Bratt began volunteering at the local orphanage. Within months, her simple desire to make use of her time transformed into a heroic crusade to improve the living conditions and minimize the unnecessary deaths of Chinese orphans.

Silent Tears traces the emotional hurdles and daily frustrations faced by Ms. Bratt as she tried to change the social conditions for these marginalized children. The memoir vividly illustrates how she was able to pull from reservoirs of inner strength to pursue her mission day after day, leaving the reader with the resounding message that everyone really can make a difference.

Review: This book is not for the weak at heart.  The conditions in orphanages overseas can be heartbreaking and make many people want to storm in with our "American" righteousness and tell them they are doing it wrong and force them to do it a different way.  This of course never works and only seems to close more doors than it opens.

Kay Bratt learned to work within a very broken system.  She learned when she should walk away, and picked which battles to fight.  While it may be heartbreaking to read about the way these children are treated you need to look at the amount of good Kay brought to their lives.  Little changes often make the biggest impact.

Kay learned the culture of China, she learned how to work within the system to make little changes that made a big impact.  She learned quickly that sometimes you have to observe and step back from a situation and know that maybe just your presence makes a difference, much more than fighting a system that's been in place for years.

Kay Bratt has done a lot of good work for the orphans of China but there is so much work still left to be done not only in China but across the world.