Finding Homes For China's Orphans

Matt Dalio has dedicated the past five years to bringing love and hope to kids on the other side of the world who otherwise may have been forgotten.

As The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm reports, this American Hero has become a champion for Chinese orphans.

In just five years, China Care's budget has grown from $70,000 to more than $1 million. And the organization has led to the successful placement of nearly 200 children, many of them in U.S. homes.

"It's meaning that is important and I think that is what makes you happiest. And there is no greater meaning than changing a life," says Matt.

Matt has been able to change many lives through China Care, the organization he founded at age 16, to find loving homes for Chinese orphans abandoned with disabilities.

"The Chinese orphans are the lowest on the Chinese social level," he says. "They have absolutely nothing. They are children so they don't have a voice of their own. And they're disabled."

Matt's desire to be that voice for China's forgotten children began when he was only a child himself.

"I first went to China when I was 3 years old," he says. "And I've been going with my dad ever since then on his business trips."

The son of an investment manager, Matt left his upscale Greenwich, Conn., home to live in China for a year as an exchange student when he only 11 years old.

"The idea was complete Chinese immersion, live the life of the Chinese," he says.

Eventually Matt learned the language and developed an appreciation for the country's culture, but it was the children for whom he would return.

"I'd been speaking to a friend who had adopted a girl from China a couple of years before," he says. "And she was telling me about the problems. I didn't know exactly what I'd find, but I figured let me just jump in and find out what really are these problems."

Among the problems Matt discovered were orphanages in need of repair and children in need of surgery.

"One is the most simple surgeries, such as cleft lip or club foot, where for $300, $500, you can radically change a life," says Matt. "And it makes these children adoptable."

China Care expects to pay for over 700 such surgeries next year. As for the run down orphanages, Matt has led renovation efforts to improve them.

"You walk the halls and can see the difference. The children are happier," says Matt. "We want all the orphanages in China to be like this."

Because of its success, China Care now requires a board and an executive director for day-to-day operations, which allows Matt to focus on school, and on being an inspiration to the many American students who joined China Care clubs at more than 40 high school and college campuses.

Does he think he is tapping into something kids need in this country?

"I think when people's role models are Paris Hilton," Matt says laughing, "when that is a role model, and people don't have the role models they used to have."

This year Matt will graduate from Harvard and plans on a career in business soon after. But his heart remains with China Care for which he sees an unlimited future.

"The dreams are exponential," says Matt. "And I never thought we'd be where we were a year ago. I just can't wait to see where we are six months, a year, five years from now. There's just so much potential, so much to be done, so much that we can do, and I can't wait to do it all."
  • Daniel Schorn

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