Stories Behind the Headlines
"People were dying," Bob said. "So I thought it required something more than the charitable impulse and it required an effort of self, and all I could do, badly, as it was turning out, was write a couple of tunes."
One of those tunes, Do They Know It's Christmas? sold out in record time and millions of dollars starting pouring in for relief to Ethiopia. But Bob did not stop there. Next was Live Aid, two concerts of epic proportions held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia. For 10 hours on a day in July, 1.5 billion people, that's one-third of the entire planet, tuned in to see the biggest names in music perform to save a country.
"Until that moment, I had not seen in all my time in Ethiopia one good story," Brian says. "One story that gave any hope whatsoever and suddenly, looking at this face, I thought if she can make it, maybe Ethiopia can make it. And maybe the world will respond."
"Look at me," Birhan says. "I look very beautiful and very healthy. I'm very strong, and I'm very proud that all the hardship is past already."
Brian now sponsors Birhan and her siblings' education. Birhan says she looks at Brian as her second father.
"This is one child that I didn't want to turn my back on, because she represented, I think, a kind of hope for Ethiopia and also her personal story," Brian says. "So I was tormented for years and then went back to try and find her four years later."
Their powerful pictures are now holiday cards on sale through the Salvation Army this year. The children's photography program was sponsored by the Taubman Company and due to the generosity of the Taubman company, 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the cards will benefit homeless children in America.
Linda's work can also be seen in People We Know, Horses They Love.
In their film The Dying Rooms, the filmmakers showed the unbelievable living conditions in the orphanages they came across. They also found an actual "dying room" where an unwanted baby girl was left 10 days earlier to die. She was named Mei Ming, which means "no name." Mei Ming gave up on her fight to live four days after the filmmakers filmed her. The orphanage denied she ever existed, but the film proves otherwise.
As a result of The Dying Rooms, organizations like Amnesty International and Save the Children took notice and began focusing on the subject. And, according to the filmmakers, the United Nations also became more strict on China, and American families have also adopted more Chinese girls than any other nation.
Today in China, Lisa found that baby girls are still being either aborted or abandoned by the thousands and boys outnumber girls by 17 million. Although the one child per family policy still stands, Lisa says families do have sons and daughters. "In the countryside, you can have more than one child. If your first child is a girl you can try to then have a boy," Lisa says. "The problem is that no matter how you try, you can't force yourself to have a boy. So if you continue to have girls, a lot of these families, they continue to give away or kill baby girls until they have a boy, and some may never have a baby boy.
"It sounds horrifying to give away the baby girls and it is. But in China, the boy will stay with the family and his wife will come live with the family so they can work the fields and stay in the home. Whereas if you give birth to a baby girl, [the girl] will [eventually] leave your family. So what the Chinese government is trying to do now is convince the people that women are productive members of society, too."
Lisa says that China has made "tremendous, tremendous strides in fixing the problem" including relaxing restrictions on International adoptions.
"That's why I really loved doing this story so much," Lisa says, "because as you saw in The Dying Rooms, these little girls are the most rejected, discarded members of Chinese society. They are left in boxes. They are left on the side of the road. They are left in parks. And these amazing people who have the desire to have kids, they go and they adopt these baby girls. And in a way, these little girls kind of get the last laugh because they come to America, they have access to education, you know, you have to have some resources in order to go and do this foreign adoption. They come here and they become educated. And I truly believe that they're going to go back and change China."
Richard and Denise adopted their daughter Marissa from China three and a half years ago. In every way Marissa is an ordinary American kid, but this American kid was abandoned in a park in China when she was three days old. Now, Marissa and her parents have traveled back to China to adopt another baby girl. Lisa documented the event and witnessed the Halls welcome a little sister into their family.
For 1,000 years, over 4 and a half billion Chinese women had endured this torturous practice. Considered the ultimate symbol of wealth and beauty, the perfect adult woman's foot was no longer than 3 inches!
"I had no idea that it was this small!" — Oprah
Dig into The Good Earth to uncover the culture of footbinding and more!