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ss triple helix - Christmas 2011,  The house of hope

The house of hope

God's love for the abandoned orphans of China
Elisabeth Gifford
Monarch Books, 2011
£8.99 Pb 223pp
ISBN 978 0 85721 059 3

In 1998 expatriates Robin Hill and his doctor wife Joyce heard God's call to give up their comfortable Beijing life to care for abandoned Chinese infants, released to them from the official Children's Welfare Institutions (CWIs). Deemed hopeless, some had life-threatening but operable conditions. Sympathisers worldwide helped the Hills to build and supervise several scattered 'Houses of Hope'. One-to-one care then saved hundreds of lives, sometimes after urgent or repeated surgery by international experts, responsive to Joyce's emailed assessments. Many of these children have gone on to be adopted, usually by families overseas but often after lengthy fostering in China. A novel and welcome development has been the supervision of palliative care units, requested by some CWIs for their moribund infants. As the Hills aimed to treat each child like one of their own they have trained equally caring managers for the different centres.

Despite sometimes disruptive backtracking, moving stories are told of God's loving care for 'the least of these'. Supposedly hopeless infants thrive, others find new families or are loved until they die, and experiences of God's perfect timing strengthen faith. Readers hesitating about saying 'yes' to one of God's surprising, if costly, invitations will find much in these pages to inspire and encourage.

Janet Goodall is a retired paediatrician in Stoke-on-Trent.

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