Author Archive

Searching for birthparents in China (when an adoptee starts to question)

Written by Kay on . Posted in Adoption Stories, Book Recommendations

 

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(Illustration Credit: Mother Bridge of Love)

Recently I received another of many similar letters from an adoptee, asking me if I had any advice on how to search for her birthparents in China. While this is the words from one wise girl, there are others out there like her:

I recently read your book, Chasing China“. I absolutely loved it! I was very touched by the story. I was adopted from China. The whole aspect of “the finders” was quite intriguing. I would like to seek out my biological family, and don’t know where to start. Do you have any suggestions? I don’t think I’ll be able to travel to China anytime soon. I also have complete support from my adoptive parents in this search. I would really appreciate any advice you could offer on going about this. I understand the concept is like searching for a needle in the haystack, but I still would like to at least try. 

At first because I thought she might be underage, I was hesitant to answer. And while I was considering just how to answer, I asked the advice of the pros….the adoptive parents in my circle. I received some amazing advice and in addition to advising adoptees that they should read my memoir, Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, to get an idea of the culture of a social welfare institute (orphanage in China), I am working on putting together a document that will consists of tips, groups, websites, and advice pertaining to finding birth parents in China. You are welcome to ask for it via contacting me on my website, or I’ll also be discussing it on my newsletter. You can subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/q9_2X

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In the meantime, I received another message from another adoptee. Her words brought tears to my eyes and made me realize (or re-emphasize) that I need to treat these inquiries with the utmost respect and compassion. Her name is Mallory Anderson and she’s a young woman who I think you will agree, has a way with words. She has given me permission to share her note:

Hi Kay Bratt, Not sure if you know me, but my name is Mallory Anderson, and I noticed your recent post about a young women who is wanting to find her birth parents. I am adoptee from China, and I remember as a young adopted kid from China, the thought of my birth parents sometimes came up and I would have mix feelings about it. When I saw your post last night, it really touched me, and reminded me of how I used to feel as a young child. Torn between the amazing parents I was meant to have, and yet not knowing of how I came to be here. For the past few months, I’ve been feeling that I in any way I can, I should help others as they deal with these feelings. But now that I’m older, I know that my past doesn’t define who I am, or who I will become. What I’ve been through has shaped me into the kind of women I am today. I just wanted to give my personal opinion since I was adopted and have no clue who my birth parents are. So a little about me, I was adopted when I was 3 and a half, coming to American in December of 93. Growing up for me, there was never a doubt that my adopted parents were the parents that God gave me, or the parents I was always meant to be with. I love my parents so much, and I am exactly like my mom. But sometimes it comes to my mind, and you can never fault adopted kids for thinking this way, of who were my birth parents? As an adopted kid, it’s always a running thought of who were they. Now that I’m older and know more about China, how the whole adopted situation goes on, as well as the politic in China, I’ve been a little more interested in myself. I definitely do not think of her asking is bad, and whether she is younger or older, it’s important to listen, to hear what she is searching for. This is about her and how she feels, and it is always important to respect all feelings when it comes to a situation like this, but it will effect her more than the adopted parents. So personally if there is any way of making her feel better about her birth parents, I would try. I hope this helps, because I noticed all the post were very helpful parents or caring friends, so I thought it would be nice to hear from an adoptee from China.

Best wishes, Mallory Anderson

Well, yes, Mallory, it is helpful to hear from an adoptee and I appreciate you taking the time to pour out your thoughts as well as grant permission for them to be public. While every adoptive parent I’ve ever come in contact with is very supportive in their child’s requests to know more about their pasts, if there are any out there who are questioning the pros and cons then maybe your words and that of the first adoptee’s above (thanks goes out to her, too!) will help them gain a new perspective. Many thanks to all who have contributed to the document of Birth Family Search Tips that I am compiling and will freely give out to all who ask (as long as they are 18 or older).

~Kay Bratt

‘My Writing Process’ Blog Tour

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, About Publishing

Kay Bratt

Dear Unsuspecting Readers,

Please sympathize with me and read to the end. Please! As an initial plea of defense, I almost never get into the fun (aka: non-complicated and opposite of mind-numbing) stuff on the internet. Usually because I’ve always got my head buried in research or writing, but this week I have fully committed to being a (semi-reluctant) team player on a blog roll!

What is a blog roll, you ask? Well, being the author hermit I am, I’m not totally sure myself but looking back at what others have done, it appears it’s sort of like sitting around the campfire telling tales. A group of storytellers (authors) all work together to contribute something, then pass the stick to the next person, to keep the spirit of the event (blog roll) alive.

My good friend and fellow author, Karen McQuestion, was kind enough to ask (drag) me into the fun. All kidding set aside, if you haven’t heard of Karen, then you haven’t yet tested the deepest waters of women’s fiction. What? Say you want a recommendation? I’d suggest you start with The Long Way Home.

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But I also know from my undercover sources that she has a new book on the horizon that will blow your socks off. (I’ve beta read it so I know!) It’s called Hello Love and you can preorder it today. I promise, you’ll thank me when that baby hits your Kindle. You’re welcome.

Like me, Karen also answered questions about her writing process on her blog, McQuestion Musings, and then she threw the questions to me.  So here are my answers and as soon as I’m done I’m inviting (aka: torturing) the next writers on the list, so stay tuned to see who (willingly) posts about their writing process next.

QUESTIONS….drumroll, please…..

1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

If you could see my office and the floor beside my bed (and the table in the screened porch), you’d think I was collecting Chinese history books. I’ve surrounded (buried) myself in research material for a book I’m working on that will be set during the Cultural Revolution. It will be a novel-length prequel to my bestselling series The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters.

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2. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

My work probably doesn’t differ much from other China-inspired fiction. Authors like Lisa See, Amy Tan, and even the late Pearl Buck have used bits of history and inspiration from real life people to launch the ideas for their stories, just as I do. (PS. Did you know Lisa See just released a new novel called China Dolls, set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1930s? I can’t wait to read it!)

3. WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to garner a 4 1/2 year respite from American life to become an expat in the mysterious and sometimes chaotic country of China. There I spent time with the locals and fell in love with the children at the orphanage where I volunteered. I’ll admit that I went into China and the orphanage with pre-conceived notions of cruel parents who abandon helpless children. After some years of experience, I came to realize there was so much more to the story, especially the fact that most parents would rather do anything than relinquish their children. Most times that recourse is their last resort to save their beautiful babies from a life of poverty, or worse, death or disability from a lack of medical assistance.

When I returned to the states, I found myself obsessed with continuing to raise awareness about the plights of the underprivileged women and children in China.

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After Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, (my memoir) took off like a rocket, I decided to continue to use my love of writing to advocate. Now I use my books to entertain while covertly raising awareness about the difficult human affairs some choose to close their eyes to.

Children abandoned under bridges, women forced into abortions, girls abducted to be sold as brides, street children dying to try to stay warm—all of these are themes I explore as I create characters that will have readers rooting for them to overcome their dire circumstances. My stories are about family loyalty, loss, and the tenacity of the human spirit intent on survival.

4. HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

Coming from a long history of being overly structured and self-critical (driven beyond sane parameters), it’s not surprising that I treat my writing like a fulltime job. When I rise in the mornings I immediately get dressed, take the dog out, pour a Dr. Pepper over ice, then sit down at my desk and prepare to make some progress. The first hour or so is spent updating social networking, sending/answering emails, and reading a few writing/publishing sites to see if I’m missing any breaking news that will affect me. Then once that is all out of the way, I get down to ‘bizness.

The ‘bizness may be research, editing, marketing, or actually writing new stuff. However, I only start a manuscript after sometimes months of gathering facts and tidbits that I can fold into the story. Reader reviews have shown me that the most appreciated aspect of my work is the tidbits of history I weave through, so getting those parts down into an organized outline or list is the first priority. Once I have a semi complete outline ready, I then begin writing. Each day I take on another chapter, even if only fleshing it out to return to it the next day and complete it further. As for the outline, it’s usual for me to deviate from it about halfway through the manuscript, as my creative juices and growing familiarity with my characters send me down unexpected avenues.

5. AND THE OTHER PART OF THIS QUESTION, HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS NOT WORK?

Simply put, my writing process doesn’t work worth beans if I’m not in my usual place at my familiar desk in my cozy office. I like (need) routine, so my writing process also doesn’t work if the house if full of unusual activity. I write best when I’m alone with only my dog, Riley, and my cat, Gypsy, to keep me company. If daughters or grandchildren (or pesky husbands) are underfoot, I focus on marketing or other writing stuff, anything but the manuscript. For that I need blessed solitude.  But when I’m not working, I love having visitors or enjoy just walking through our backyard to the lake, taking a moment each day to enjoy nature and all the blessings that we’ve worked for and those God has given us.

PASSING THE TORCH, OR WHO’S NEXT

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ROSALIND JAMES. If you are not familiar with that name yet, just hold on, because you soon will be. Rosalind sold nearly 225,000 books in her first 21 months of publishing! She is the author of several Amazon bestsellers including the two different series titled Escape To New Zealand and The Kincaids. If you want to read how Rosalind’s writing process enables her to crank out bestsellers, visit her at her blog here.

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Then we have the always unpredictable Robyn Coden who I have the pleasure of mentoring as she wades into the shark-infested waters of publishing. But she’s not a total newbie. Have you heard of the blog called Dim Sum and Doughnuts? If not, you’d better head over there and see what kind of trouble Robyn is stirring up. Honest and provocative, Robyn is an up & coming author and for a hint of what she is about, here is her tagline: We’re an unconventional family and we live an unconventional life…but sometimes unconventional works. As for what she is working on to be published—that I can’t tell you because it’s super top secret. Please visit Robyn on Facebook to get to know her and be amused by her take on motherhood and life in general. And if you want to see her start a flame war and then put it out, check out one of my favorite posts of hers titled I Am Who I Am. You’ll either laugh or be ticked off—I promise you one extreme or the other. Oh, and to see Robyn’s take on her writing process, check out her writing process (and all the uber cool things she says about me!) at her website Dim Sum and Doughnuts.

Whew! Finished! I can mark being a part of an author blog roll off my bucket list.

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So….if you’ve read all the way to the end of this rambling blog post, you deserve a medal…or maybe just an ice cream cone. Or both. So yeah, um…thanks.

Bitter Winds is now Available!

Written by Kay on . Posted in About Publishing, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

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Now available [here] on Amazon, the third book of the Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters series, Bitter Winds continues the saga of Chinese couple Benfu and Calli, and the abandoned young women in their care.

Since the night her sister was almost burned alive in a fire and they were taken from their mother, Ivy has been the self-appointed guardian and guide to her blind twin, Lily. When Lily is snatched away and put behind locked doors, Ivy will do whatever it takes to get her sister home, even it means putting her own life in danger.

After Benfu and Calli’s long-lost daughter, Li Jin, is finally reunited with her birth parents, she opens a shelter for displaced people, turning her fortune from destitution and abuse to family and fulfillment. But her friend Sami remains consumed by bitterness—and Li Jin soon realizes she needs to make a difficult choice between revisiting the past or nurturing her own future.  Buy now: http://amzn.to/197XxHB

Amazon Reviews:

Not long ago life had me “too busy” to find time to read. Then, I read one of her books and her writing spoke to me, I can find time to read all the time now. This third book in the series is no different than the others, except perhaps better. This one is my favorite, but I say that after reading each one. I never believe a better book can be written, but then she does it. If you want to escape for a bit and be sucked in by a family, get some education on how things work in China and have real emotions — this series is for you!

Book Three is just as good as the first two in the Scavengers Daughters series (I hope there are more to come, so I won’t say Trilogy).  In each of the books we follow the story of one or two of the daughters of the Scavengers Daughters. Their triumphs, their tragedies, but always wih such amazing story telling, you don’t want to put the book down.

There is absolutely so much that is happening on each page! The story line is easy to follow and it doesn’t take long to be completely absorbed. Kay Bratt brings the characters to life by having their past experiences affect their personalities accordingly. She takes you deep into China’s cultures and neighborhoods and how the government affects their daily lives. This is one of those books where I didn’t want to come to the end. I would recommend you reading all the books in the Scavenger’s Daughter series.

Kay Bratt’s Red Skies! The Fourth book in the Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters

Written by Kay on . Posted in Adoption Stories, Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

Red Skies, the 4th novel set in the world of

The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters

 Download today and find out why so many readers have become invested in this family of daughters.

Download from here: http://amzn.to/1hLjZdc

RedSkies-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

“I feel empty, as though I’m leaving behind a piece of myself.” As the daughter of the town scavenger, Mari grew up knowing hardship, but she could have never anticipated the struggles facing her as an adult. Feeling alone and isolated, she dreams of a better life. On the other side of town, a little girl is forced to live on the streets, but silently she longs for the one thing she’s never known–a family. Max, a struggling American photojournalist, arrives in China with only one goal in mind; to face his demons and put an end to his own unbearable suffering. In Red Skies, the fate of three people who’ve never met will converge in profound and unexpected ways.

From the bestselling author of ‘A Thread Unbroken’ comes a fresh glimpse into the life of Benfu’s remarkable family.  Be swept up in this emotional yet hope filled story of Red Skies, set in the world of Kay Bratt’s ‘Tales of The Scavenger’s Daughters’.

*Red Skies is the 4th novel to the series but can be enjoyed first, last, or in between the other books. It can stand alone or be read as part of the series. So dig in at any time! Download from here: http://amzn.to/1hLjZdc

Would You Like to Make Someone’s Day with a Book?

Written by Kay on . Posted in How You Can Help A Child

In addition to supporting work for orphans in China, I like to try to focus on my community when possible. Recently, I’ve heard of a need that a local children’s home here in South Carolina has to fill their library with current and appropriate reading material for teens. Most of the teens are there because of a difficult home life, and immersing themselves in the magic of a good story can be therapeutic. I know I used to do that! book3

If you are an author, or simply someone who’d like to donate a book or even an entire series for this outreach, please use the CONTACT ME button on my home page and shoot me an email. I’ll give you an address that you can ship the books to. And thank you!

About the children’s home: This home for children is a private nonprofit treatment agency specializing in caring for emotionally troubled children, adolescents, and families. We are accredited by the Council on Accreditation. The home provides an array of programs to meet the increasing demands for quality children and family services.

Around the World Giveaway

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways

Enter to possibly WIN a prize in our Around The World Giveaway, featuring bestselling authors Kay Bratt, Kate Danley, and Karen McQuestion. Prizes to include signed copies of books in tiny attaché cases and even a Kindle!

Enter Here: http://tinyurl.com/ntajo3g

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone for participating and the winners are….

Kindle: Megan Henn
Kate Danley pack: Brenda Stevens
Kay Bratt pack: Carol Zuba
Karen McQuestion pack: Wendy Weber

AroundTheWorld

New Release! Red Skies, set in the world of the Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

RedSkies-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

Red Skies by Kay Bratt

A companion novel set in the world of The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters

“I feel empty, as though I’m leaving behind a piece of myself.” As the daughter of the town scavenger, Mari grew up knowing hardship, but she could have never anticipated the struggles facing her as an adult. Feeling alone and isolated, she dreams of a better life. On the other side of town, a little girl is forced to live on the streets, but silently she longs for the one thing she’s never known–a family. Max, a struggling American photojournalist, arrives in China with only one goal in mind; to face his demons and put an end to his own unbearable suffering. In Red Skies, the fate of three people who’ve never met will converge in profound and unexpected ways.

From the bestselling author of ‘A Thread Unbroken’ comes a fresh glimpse into the life of Benfu’s remarkable family. Be swept up in this emotional yet hope filled story of Red Skies, set in the world of Kay Bratt’s ‘Tales of The Scavenger’s Daughters’.

*Red Skies is a companion novel to the series and can be enjoyed first, last, or in between the other books. It can stand alone or be read as part of the series. So dig in at any time! /352 pages

AVAILABLE HERE ON AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1hLjZdc

Amazon Reviewer Lee says: Red Skies is another remarkable book about the daughters of Benfu. Having already read “The Scavenger’s Daughters” and “Tangled Vines” and being captivated by their beautiful stories, I was eagerly anticipating what “Red Skies” would have to offer and I most certainly was not disappointed.

One of the most endearing qualities of Kay Bratt’s books is that she makes you care so very much about her characters and instead of just being a reader, you become a participant and cheerleader in their lives! This beautiful story has three main characters whose stories are told separately but as you read them you know that they are going to converge and the anticipation keeps you turning page after page! Kay’s books are hard to put down once you have started them because she draws you in a holds you on each word. Having read Kay’s other books I already knew a little bit about Mari (Marigold) but even without knowing her back story completely this book is SO worth reading. This book, like the others, will make you feel like you are in China and will break your heart when you realize it is written about China today.

You. Must. Read. This. Book. Three Souls by Janie Chang

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

Steeped in the tenacious traditions and rich culture of China, Three Souls by Janie Chang is a book that will captivate and keep you up at night to turn the pages. Packed with intrigue and emotional upheaval, I especially loved the way Song Leiyen, the main character, only gradually worked her way into my good graces until I found myself thinking of her each time I walked away from the story. Mark my words, this book is going to be a best seller!

Already one of my favorite books of the year!

Three Souls

Available on Amazon (Here)

House of Pleasure by Caddy Rowland

Written by Kay on . Posted in About Publishing

Caddy

Fueled by rage and disgust, Phoenix runs away from home. The situation there had become unbearable. In fact, things couldn’t get any worse. But they do. Betrayed in New York by a boy who she thought was a new friend, she finds herself taken prisoner by a low-class pimp. Then, when she thinks she’s on her way to her first seedy trick, Phoenix winds up locked in a limo with no way out. She wakes up in an illegal brothel in New Orleans. Phoenix vows she will find a way to destroy Antoine, the owner of the brothel. Instead of being Antoine’s prostitute, she’ll become his lover, his confidante, and pretty soon, his manager. And then, when he least suspects it, she’ll bring the entire house down. She better be damn good. There will only be one chance.

**Content Warning: This book is a drama meant for those over 18 and contains explicit scenes. Therefore, it contains adult themes and scenes which deal with a difficult topic.

BUY NOW AT AMAZON [HERE]

What reviewers are saying:

The subject matter is disturbing, there nothing pretty about the sex slave industry. The sad truth is it’s a reality in the world we live in. Ms. Rowland’s creative writing style and storytelling brings you in to that world where most of us have never been and keeps us there rooting for the underdog. -Amazon Reviewer

This was a very well written book about issues that are happening. The story line was intense and shows the growth of a young woman forced into the life she didn’t plan for herself. Although this book makes you think and reach into your soul for answers of why and how this could happen, it is also a tale of courage for herself and others that are caught up there with her. I found this to be a very good read and I am looking forward to the next book to follow the story through. -Amazon Reviewer

 

Dear Disappointed….

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, How You Can Help A Child

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Dear Disappointed, I received your email yesterday. First, I thank you for reading my work and then taking the time to search me out on the internet, find my contact button, and grace me with your words of chastisement. While at first I was so upset that I had to pull off the road and convince myself I would not be sick, your message gave me something to think about for the rest of the day and into a sleepless night. I felt it would be appropriate to answer you here. First, your words after reading my novella, The Bridge:

I loved the story.  Simple and sweet.  Reading afterward, it was disappointing to see about your work in a Chinese orphanage.  How many children have you helped in the country in which you were born, raised, educated and benefited from taxpayer support?

Now, please forgive me if I can’t remember all that I have done, but before I answer your demand for a list of ways I’ve helped fellow Americans, can I just ask what is it that you expected me to do during my time in China? Did you expect me to simply enjoy the people’s land, rake in their money, eat their foods, and party myself to death? I apologize that when a situation of orphaned children presented itself, that I went out of my way to use my time, talents and compassion to make their lives just a tiny bit better. I guess that taking on the advocacy and supporting the surgery of little Le Men and Li Li should never have happened? Where would they be now? Most likely gone from this earth instead of adding unmeasurable joy to the forever families they finally joined.  And the girl we called Princess….her body deformed by the ravages of her disease but her eyes always pleading for someone to touch her, someone to love her. Where would she be? I know where she wouldn’t be—and that is in the arms of another volunteer who she now calls Mom.  And if you really want to see me fired up, what about the little girl named who was in an accident that resulted in her losing her leg, then her family. She was left to languish in an orphanage in China, forever branded to be discriminated against for the fate thrown her way. Without me and my team, and all the miraculous things that happened between, she wouldn’t be a part of an amazing family right now who love her for who she is–and who don’t look at her as a disabled child, but simply look at her as their amazingly resilient daughter.

Truly, if you read my memoir, Silent Tears, you’d see that my work in China resulted in children living a better quality of life because of the ways in which we helped the nannies, the facility, and therefore those who were in their care. Diapers, bedding, toys, even better milk for the babies! You’d also see that when we arrived, two to three children shared one bowl of congee (rice as you most assuredly call it) for every meal. The bowls were emptied and the children still cried in hunger. With our resources, we were able to make sure every child had a bowl of their own and went to bed with a full stomach. But then, I suppose since you weren’t there to see their streaked faces crying silent tears of abandonment or hunger, that it doesn’t touch you in the way that it did me. But I’m grateful others were able to ‘see’ it through my words and step up to do what they can from afar, even though the children aren’t in their country. For does it really matter where a child is if they need our help?

As you can see, I feel very passionate about the children I left behind in China. Just as I do any child that God puts in my path.  I suppose it wouldn’t kill me to admit that upon my return to the states, in addition to online volunteering for numerous organizations that support children in China, I physically worked full time (two years) for a non-profit organization that focuses on helping children build strong character, confidence and spirit.  Also during that time I spear-headed several outreach programs including one I called Zip Up A Smile in which we collected enough welcome bags of items to be used for an entire year at a (American) children’s shelter, sometimes the only thing a child has of their own after being jerked out of their homes.  I also headed another called Zip Up the Warmth in which we collected and handed out over 100 warm coats and backpacks to (American) children living in an low income neighborhood. Or maybe I should mention the two years I spent as a CASA Volunteer in which I acted as the voice of the child, even venturing into meth-infected neighborhoods and taking unpaid time from work to attend court hearings and events for my children (cases).  I gladly used my own funds for gasoline, clothing, hygiene items and gifts for (American) children assigned to me.  But most valuable was the time that I gave them—children who felt neglected and abandoned to sink or swim in the broken (American) foster system.  

I could tell you more that I’ve done to help in my “own” country—but really, what would be enough to balance out your disappointment in me? What most don’t know is that I suffer daily from a debilitating chronic condition that causes me great pain. I have for decades, yet I’ve refused to let it overcome my goal of making a difference in any small way I can. I encourage you to read my memoir, Silent Tears, to see if maybe a glimpse behind those walls makes you change your mind about being disappointed in someone who dares to try to help. Yet, really, if you don’t read my work and get it that I am passionate about advocating for children, whether they are Chinese or American, red, white, brown or black, then really I have nothing left to say, except just maybe one little question for you.

What have YOU done to make this world a better place?

Silent-Tears