We are honored to publish a very special blog post, written by Darrah Blackwater, who is just completing the final days of an epic walk from New Day South in Zhongshan (near to Hong Kong) to Beijing. Prepare to be impressed and inspired...
When I first walked into the New Day South foster home in Zhongshan last July, I knew I had found a happy family. Astonishing love seems to fill every nook and cranny of that place. It is a love evident by the sight of Ayis coo-ing tired babies, the sound of a children laughing, and the aromas of clothes being cleaned and warm food being prepared. Such love is what encouraged me to do something HUGE to help New Day. Beyond this, I was completely captivated by those sweet, ornery, innocent, adorable, beautiful kids.
The courage to say ‘yes’ to my own idea to walk over 2,000 kilometers from New Day South to New Day Beijing didn’t come easily to me. This was a daunting dream that I was terrified to give life to. Now I am so grateful that I did. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do it alone. I have the emotional and financial support of many kind people in Zhongshan and back home in America. And I have my brave walking partner, Ann Liang. Together, we planned this walk across China. Ann walks for her own charity, The Sunshine is Beside You, which supports and advocates for people with disabilities in the Zhongshan, GuangDong area. We found each other through a shared passion of serving the under-served.
I departed Zhongshan on February 1st with Ann and the intention of walking over 2,000 kilometers to Beijing to raise awareness of the growing need of services for people with disabilities in China and also to raise money for the New Day foster home.
Four months after taking our first steps northward, we arrived at New Day Beijing to an unexpected hero’s welcome. About 50 of the staff members and volunteers were waiting at the gate of the New Day compound, cheering and clapping as we approached. We were so honored to arrive in such a celebratory fashion. It truly was a special way to honor a beautiful moment that I will never forget.
The journey has been testing, filled with things dangerous to come to. I have been pushed so far out of my comfort zone that I barely remember what it feels like to be within it. In the past 19 weeks, we have been drenched, cold, scorched, blistered, homesick, and exhausted. But I can honestly say that an afternoon playing with the children at New Day Beijing made it all fade away. It’s impossible to be tired, sore, or homesick while you’re being served tea out of a musical plastic teapot by a three year old.
Our chosen motto, “ni keyi”, means “you can”. It has inspired us along the way, and it is meant inspire anyone who has ever been told the words “you can’t”. Many people told me that my dream was crazy and impossible. I secretly wondered if they were right, but I knew that I had to try. I’m so glad I made that decision, as it has led me to the finish line of a 2,000+ kilometer walk across a country full of beauty.
In a few days, we will officially finish our walk at Tiananmen Square, reuniting with very important people in our lives. Ann’s husband, Jerry, and my mother will both be at the finish line to greet us.
I will walk away from this beautiful place fully knowing that the mark it has made on me will never fade. Until then, I plan to play and laugh with the children, recharging my spirit by offering them the love they so desperately need and deserve.
My courage is a byproduct of the love that is created by the people of New Day. It is my humble hope that our efforts on this walk will help, inspire, and spread the story of this wonderful oasis for children, the people who actively create it, and the love shared here that has the ability to change lives.
This post was written by Darrah Blackwater.