Some people bear a greater degree of suffering in this world. Some people, when presented with an opportunity to be a part of a movement much bigger than themselves, have the courage to respond. Chai Ling has known a great degree of suffering in her life, and has been a part of events much larger than herself. And the world is becoming a better place as a result.
A Heart for Freedom is both Lingâ€™s memoir and mission statement. Within the pages of this complex autobiography lies the story of a woman living in a society one the verge of changeâ€”change ushered in by thousands of students from across China. Ms. Ling, a college student at Peking University at the time of the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square, finds herself at the center of activity, thrust into a key leadership role. As a result, she is placed on Chinaâ€™s Most Wanted list and hunted for nearly a year. By stowing away on a boat, Ling found temporary refuge in France, during which time she received refugee status to America. Lingâ€™s transition to America is full of difficult adjustments and sacrifice as she begins climbing the corporate ladder in an effort to achieve the American Dream.
From an outsiderâ€™s perspective, Ling â€œhas it allâ€: receiving degrees from Princeton and Harvard, marrying and beginning a family, starting a successful multi-million dollar business, and receiving two Nobel Peace Prize nominations. Yet her heart longed for more â€¦ a yearning for something deeper than material success or accolades. When a friend shares her journey of faith with Ling, Lingâ€™s heart finds fulfillment, healing, and peace. As Lingâ€™s faith in God grows, she finds renewed purpose and passion: to save the discarded girls victimized through Chinaâ€™s one-child policy.
Combining her passion for elevating the condition of the people in China with her desire to rescue women and girls from victimization, Ling now utilizes her experience in activism, business, foreign affairs, and knowledge of Chinese cultural practices to bring hope and justice to the women of China, as founder of All Girls Allowed, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the injustice of gendercide occurring as a result of Chinaâ€™s family planning policies.
A Heart for Freedom, will take every reader through a rollercoaster of emotions. With brute honesty, Ms. Ling bears her soul as she recalls the highs, lows, betrayals, fears, mistakes, uncertainties, and joys of living the life she was destined to lead. (Did I find the attention to detail a bit much during the sections relating to the Tiananmen Square protests, yes. But whoopee-do and so what. Just skim through it.) What is clearly evident throughout Lingâ€™s memoir is the way God used her experiences to prepare her for a great purpose. Lingâ€™s early experience and later efforts marry perfectly to raise awareness for one of the greatest tragedies facing modern times: gendercide.
Gendercide in China
Here is where I admit my naÃ¯vetÃ©, I had no idea China still enforced the One-Child Policy. Um, this is the 21st Century, right? Is it not 2011? In China, women and couples must be granted permission to have a baby by the local Family Planning Committee. Any unmarried or underage woman found pregnant is forced to have an abortion. Any married woman who becomes pregnant after the birth of a son, will be coerced into abortion. (Some exceptions apply, such as in rural areas, but overall the policy is strictly enforced.)
As a result of Chinaâ€™s Family Planning policies:
* Every 2.5 seconds a baby is aborted
* Everyday hundreds of baby girls are abandoned
* Everyday 500 women commit suicide
* In the past 30 years, four-hundred million (400,000,000) forced abortions have been performed as a result of the One Child policy
* Every year China (and India) eliminate more girls than are born in the United States
Through the work of All Girls Allowed, Chai Ling is working toward the end of gendercide, infanticide and the abandonment of babies based on sex. All Girls Allowed seeks to restore life, value and dignity to girls and mothers by assisting pregnant women, and revealing the injustice of Chinaâ€™s one-child policy.