“Someone asked me a question about how people can help orphans and kids in need. Here are my suggestions.” - Mark
• Volunteering your time, regularly, to a local center in your city. In China there are several such 'Social Welfare Centers' that welcome local and foreign volunteers. You can teach English, or music, or just provide lots of hugs to the kids.
• Money donations. In general, foundations will provide you a bank account and let you know how your money is used. Sometimes a portion of the funds, anywhere from 4-10% is used for administrative fees as there are costs involved with even purchasing and logistics. I used to think this was wrong but I now realize that there are costs that sometimes have to be paid. Depending on the foundation this may also have tax benefits.
• Bringing items like clothes, mosquito nets, mattresses, dvd players, musical instruments etc directly to the kids yourself. This is what I did when I first arrived in Shenzhen as I did not know exactly where my money was going.
• Combining volunteering and delivering items is the most effective way, since it builds a face to face bond and provides tangible benefits. It is also important that volunteering be regular (even if infrequent) as orphans rely on consistency as proof of caring, more than occasional attention.
• Of course the best way is to adopt a child!
Above all, remember that every little bit helps, no matter how small it seems!
Born in Kenya and a fifteen year resident of Shenzhen, People's Republic of China, Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo is an accomplished American pianist, writer, artist and businessman. He is Adjunct Professor of Arts and Media at Beijing Normal University and has a BSc. Physics (also completed BA math requirements) from Brown University, an MSc Physics from Stanford and an EMBA from Emory. He is an HSK L7 (advanced) Mandarin speaker and writer, and an avid brush calligrapher. His business advises investors aiming to link Asia, Africa and the USA, using over 25 years of communications and international branding experience gained as a senior manager at Lucent, Nortel and other companies. In addition to his first book, Nairobi to Shenzhen, he has completed a memoir, An Obama's Journey, and published 3 piano CDs, The Untimely Ones, Night Moods and his own composition Reflections on William Blake. His current projects include translating to English the complete works of Tang Dynasty poet Li Shangyin. Mark has been regularly volunteering piano lessons to orphans in and around Shenzhen since 2002. He is Shenzhen's Volunteer Image Ambassador and China's Special Olympics Image Ambassador, as appointed by the Chinese government. Mark is also Image Ambassador for the France-China Cultural Forum. Recently he established the Mark Obama Ndesandjo Foundation Ltd for cultural exchange, whose goal is to bring art to youth and the disadvantaged.
About the Novel
The protagonist, upon arriving in China in the wake of 911 and the onset of a terrifying global war, is forced to confront his early experiences in Kenya and the United States as a result of his growing love for a beautiful Chinese woman and a young orphan. Parallels between his own upbringing and the potential family that lies before him lead to questions about his true identity, the complexities of his multi-racial family and the relationship he had known with his father. 15% of profits from book sales are donated to help disadvantaged children.