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Talking Shop: Sales help fight Chinese gendercide

Ling Chai, who survived the Tiananmen Square massacre and works to help Chinese girls, partners with Costa Mesa-based product line.

March 12, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Megan Guerra, Sevenly's director of charity relations, poses for a portrait at the company's office in Costa Mesa on Tuesday. Sevenly is a for-profit social good company that donates $7 of every item sold from its website to a new charity per week. Between March 10 and 16, it is contributing to All Girls Allowed, a Boston-based nonprofit striving to end gendercide in China.
Megan Guerra, Sevenly's director of charity relations,… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

In 1989, Ling Chai joined friends and fellow students at Tiananmen Square for what she believed would be a peaceful protest.

They gathered at the Beijing site to rally for political and social reform, better career prospects and a free media. But in response, China's leader at the time, Deng Xiaoping, and senior officials declared martial law and mobilized as many as 300,000 troops. In the resulting massacre, demonstrators were injured, killed, sentenced and exiled.

Placed on the government's list of 21 most wanted students, Chai fled. She escaped by hiding in a cargo box for 105 hours until she arrived in Hong Kong. Once in the United States, she attended Princeton University and Harvard Business School, got married and eventually became a mother.

But her life, though idyllic by most standards, was mired in a sense of unease.

Burdened by the feeling that something was missing, Chai pondered constantly the purpose and meaning behind her existence.

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"I'd achieved the picture-perfect American dream but it was empty," she said. "I kept thinking, 'Why doesn't life make sense?'"

Chai, whose actions earned her Nobel Peace Prize nominations in 1990 and 1991, attended a U.S. congressional hearing about forced abortions in her homeland in 2009. She was struck by the experience of a woman who had been coerced into giving up her baby but had found peace and freedom in Jesus Christ. Weeks later, Chai followed suit, quieting all her nagging doubts through faith in God.

The following year, she responded by establishing All Girls Allowed, a nonprofit dedicated to exposing the injustices synonymous with China's family-planning "one-child policy" and to rescuing mothers and their children from gendercide. Guided by the words "In Jesus' name, simply love her," Chai and her colleagues also pray for the healing of the traumatized people they work with.

For one week, starting at 10 a.m. March 10, the group will partner with Costa Mesa-based Sevenly, a lifestyle product line whose creation was centered on co-founders Dale Partridge and Aaron Chavez's belief that "people matter." Refusing to start small, the duo, with $30,000 in startup capital, made it their mission to "activate the younger generations toward generosity," said Megan Guerra, director of charity relations.

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