Wish You Happy Forever chronicles Half the Sky founder Jenny Bowen's personal and professional journey to transform Chinese orphanages—and the lives of the neglected girls who live in them—from a state of quiet despair to one of vibrant promise.
After reading an article about the thousands of baby girls languishing in Chinese orphanages, Bowen and her husband adopted a little girl from China and brought her home to Los Angeles, not out of a need to build a family but rather a commitment to save one child. A year later, as she watched her new daughter play in the grass with her friends, thriving in an environment where she knew she was loved, Bowen was overcome with a desire to help the children that she could not bring home. That very day she created Half the Sky Foundation, an organization conceived to bring love into the life of every orphan in China and one that has actually managed to fulfill its promise.
In Wish You Happy Forever, a fish out of water tale like no other, Bowen relates her struggle to bring the concept of "child nurture and responsive care" to bemused Chinese bureaucrats and how she's actually succeeding. Five years after Half the Sky's first orphanage program opened, government officials began to mention child welfare and nurturing care in public speeches. And, in 2011, at China's Great Hall of the People, Half the Sky and its government partners celebrated the launch of The Rainbow Program, a groundbreaking initiative to change the face of orphan care by training every child welfare worker in the country. Thanks to Bowen's relentless perseverance through heartbreak and a dose of humor, Half the Sky's goal to bring love the lives of forgotten children comes ever closer.
Read Christopher Cahill's Review
Every once in a while a unique individual comes along, sees a problem and decides to make it their life’s work to fix it. Wish You Happy Forever is the story of Jenny Bowen, a screenwriter and filmmaker who, after hearing about the appalling conditions in Chinese orphanages, decided to make a difference by adopting a little girl. That in itself could have been a book. Bowen soon discovers her newly adopted child has early development issues and has suffered from serious neglect. Bowen describes her child initially as lifeless until slowly, with much love and attention, she comes into her own.
Seeing firsthand the detrimental effects that poorly run orphanages were having on the children, Bowen decided to do something about it. Using her organisational skills as a filmmaker she creates what will later be known as the Half the Sky Foundation, with the goal of improving the life of children in orphanages all over China. No small feat. If you want an eye-opening look into the world of state-run Chinese orphanages then watch a documentary called ‘The Dying Rooms’. It’s not for the faint-hearted and shows you the horrific conditions these children (predominantly girls) are exposed to.
With a small group of likeminded parents, Bowen travels to China to investigate the full range of issues and puts a plan together to re-educate orphanage workers and make a long term difference to the life of the children. Bowen’s journey is nothing short of inspiring. Wish You Happy Forever is one of those rare stories where a small group of people, way out of their depth, make a positive and lasting change in the world. Highly recommended.
About the Author
Jenny Bowen, a former screenwriter and filmmaker, is the founder and CEO of Half the Sky Foundation, an organization dedicated to reimagining care for orphaned Chinese children. Bowen received the American Chamber of Commerce's Women of Influence Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2007 and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2008.
“Bowen’s remarkable narrative illustrates how dedication, compassion and love can create enormous change against incredible odds.”