- Categories:Well-doer Record
- Time of issue:2020-06-10 16:09
(Summary description)● Ready to Pull the "Red Strings" for the Charity - Paul Swenson, SACF Honorary Chairman
(Summary description)● Ready to Pull the "Red Strings" for the
Charity - Paul Swenson, SACF Honorary Chairman
- Categories:Well-doer Record
- Time of issue:2020-06-10 16:09
Mr. Paul Swenson is an American to the core with brown hair, blue eyes, high bridged nose and white skin. However, you must be surprised when he talks to you in his fluent Chinese and Shanghai dialect. "I have been in Shanghai for 16 years with my wife who is a shanghainese and both of my sons were born in Shanghai. I have been a Shanghainese actually. " Mr. Paul Swenson identified himself like this.
First Arrival in Shanghai
In 1988, Swenson came to Shanghai in order to learn Chinese in East China Normal University as an exchange student from St. Olaf College in the United States. When he first arrived in China with a feeling of curiosity, Swenson touched "a city totally different from what it is today". There were no skyscrapers or the Inner Ring Road in Shanghai at that time. The whole city was not so fashionable but full of vitality with so many people hurried in narrow streets. During his first stay in China, Swenson visited many places including Beijing where he tasted the antiquity and modernity of this country. He was attracted by the glorious Imperial Palace, the wonderful Great Wall, the magnificent Tian An Men as well as people living in Beijing Hu Tong. Swenson thought that China was a nation full of hope and a country with bright prospect.
In 1989, Swenson went back to the United States for some reason. However, he could not forget the country in the other side of the Pacific Ocean. He made the final decision to come to China after serious and deep consideration. Then in the year of 1990, Swenson arrived in Shanghai for the second time and the stay has been as long as 16 years so far.
Today, as the Chief Representative of Council of Great Lakes Governors China Office, Paul Swenson is always recalling the memory of what he had seen and experienced in Shanghai and Beijing when he first arrived on this land.
Attached to the Charity, Willing to Make Contribution
As a neo-Shanghainese, Swenson always thinks he should hold a part of the social responsibility to this city. When he began to work in Consulate General of the United States, Shanghai, one of his friends told him about the establishment of Shanghai Pudong Charity hospital. Swenson was very sensitive to medical industry since his wife was once a doctor, so he decided to go to have a look at the hospital with great interest. It is through this visit that Swenson became attached to the charity. Swenson has been devoted to pulling the "red strings" and calling for more people to make contribution for the charity Hospital for five years long. If permitted, he often comes to Pudong to visit the charity hospital with various gifts donated by different Americans. Swenson has caught such a kind of "occupational disease" that he would like to talk about charity and donation when he works, relaxes and even when he is enjoying an exhibition. To his joy, his calling for and propaganda are always receiving active responses. "There are a lot of charitable hospitals depending on social aid and support in the United States. In this sense, many American corporations in Shanghai are willing to make efforts to the charitable hospital and the charity as well" Swenson is always modest about his contribution and role to the charity.
To many people, it is this foreigner with blue eyes and brown hair that brought them hope for future life. In the autumn of 2001, Swenson went to see about a small town in Shanxi Province with his friends. He was shocked by the view in front of him when he arrived there. In that absolute poverty-stricken town surrounded by mountains, there were no crops or even decent places to live.
What impressed Swenson most was not the poverty but the naive and simple smiling on the face of children there. They ran barefoot in the paths with a reddening on their cheek which is the typical feature of children living in plateau.
At the sight of so many foreigners for the first time, children were so excited and curious that they ran to tell each other and looked at these guests shyly. When some foreigners smiled at them with politeness, they would flush red and ran away timidly with laughing. The sound of their laughing haunted Swenson and his friends and cause their heart quake. The simple and naive children there were the future of the places who should receive good education like those in cities instead of being stricken by poverty. They should get rid of impoverishment and explore a way toward better life. However, to Swenson's great disappointment, there were no schools in this town which covered 2-hour-long driving. It was learned that children had to climb up several mountains to go to school in the next town.
Coming back from that visit, Swenson immediately contacted with related people from all walks of life in the United States on the project to establish a school for that town. Soon, a school invested and initiated by Missouri government was under construction. Different from other Hope Schools, the name of this school was not characterizes with words such as "Hope School", instead it was named after local tradition. After the establishment of local school, some teachers were selected out from university graduate volunteers in China while others from Missouri State. Many American teachers have been teaching there for over 3 to 4 years regardless of their one - year contract. There have been over 500 children received education in various levels in that school so far. They have found the way to their life through learning in this school supported by the American friends. Swenson went to that school once more in May this year where there was little difference from before: houses were still shabby, roads were muddy. What made different was that the sound of reading could be heard and the hope that would bring people there out of misery and poverty could be traced.
In the year of 2003 when Chinese people was fighting against SARS, hospitals had been a place people wanted to go least. However, Swenson visited Shanghai Pudong Charity Hospital twice during that tough period. Moreover, he purchased a set of equipments including thermometers from the United States to Shanghai to help the hospital get through ordeal and difficulties. The precious experience of making joint efforts helps build a good and tight relationship between Swenson and local people.
From June 4 this year, flash floods, the most serious one since past 50 years, hit central and southern part of Fujian Province. HuangBaZhou Village is located in MaSha Town of Jianyang Municipal, Fujian Province, where is severely flood-stricken.
In the afternoon of July 4, 2006, after 10 hours long journey, Mr. Paul Swenson, SACF Honorary Chairman accompanied by Mr. Zhu Xiaobo, SACF Standing Chairman arrived at HuangBaZhou Village in Jianyang Municipal, Fujian Province to see about the local condition. Temperature of that day was as high as 38℃. When arrived into this village again in such a hot weather, Swenson was astonished by what he had seen deeply.
It was learnt that there was no medical institution for 12 square kilometers round. Local villagers always let their mild illness run its course. Some of the elder villagers didn't receive any formal physical examination throughout their lives. If they were suffered from serious disease, they had to see a doctor 30 or 40 miles far from their village and the medical fees was unaffordable.
When Mr. Paul Swenson knew this, he showed his wiliness to provide assistance for the establishment of local charity hospital by SACF with a view to improving their medical environment and reducing the cost of medicine in that places where access to healthcare is not readily available. Local people were excited at the news and said" this is what we have been looking forward to. Our villagers could live longer if we have a hospital here." Preparations for the establishment of SACF charity hospital in HuangBaZhou Village are proceeding at present. More and more local villagers in poor mountainous areas will be benefited with health and hope.
The Happy Cross- border Marriage
If talking about Swenson, we must introduce his beautiful Shanghai wife and his two lovely sons. Although Swenson and his wife married ten years ago, he is still timid when talking about the first view of his wife. "The picture of that moment is indelible, it was just like a thunderstorm upon my head" Swenson revived that scene.
When Swenson met his wife, he was an agent of GE. He told himself that she was the person who he wanted to live with for a life long at the first sight of his wife who was working in real estate at that time.
On September 30, 1999, the first son of Swenson was born. "If he had been born a day later, I would call him 'Shi Guoqing'" Swenson talked about this with a sense of humor. The next day of his son's birthday was the 50th anniversary national day of China. At that time, his wife was staying in a hospital in Xu Jiahui. AT the night of the national day, they enjoyed the spectacular display of fireworks full of sky on the balcony of the hospital. "I will never forget that night". The second son was born in late of last year who seems naughtier than his elder brother. He is always happy at seeing his dogs running around when he pulls their tails.
There is little time for Swenson to stay with his family now because of his work, but his wife gives him great support. In Swenson's impact, his wife also engaged in charity and is a volunteer of a French medical charitable organization which makes efforts to help people in Africa, Mid-east and other needy places.
Sense of Responsibility Motivates Him to Go Ahead
Swenson regards it a good opportunity to work as the representative for the American government in China. It helps him to keep contact with some important officials and CEOs with a purpose to make joint contribution to the charity in China with them.
The development situation of the charity in China is to some extent different from that in the United States because of the different national condition of these two countries. "The establishment of Shanghai Angel Charity Foundation has set up a better platform for the medical charity in Shanghai, through which more public-spirited persons can dedicate themselves in the medical charity." Swenson said so. As the Honorary Chairman of SACF, Swenson has been working on the positive relationship with related associations in the United States for the further of the charity.
It is the strong sense of responsibility in his heart that motivates him to devote himself to making the development of the charity in China known to the whole world and help people in need. For their health, for the future, the benevolence and efforts will never end in Swenson's soul and life.
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