Robert Glover told a crowd of 35 students and alumni gathered in Sever Hall that his Christian faith and open-minded attitude put him at the center of a joint effort between British entrepreneurs and Shanghai officials to improve the treatment of state wards.
As founder of Care for Children, a fundraising operation that splits the costs of foster care with the Chinese government and local municipalities, Glover devoted the last four years to a cause that he believes is divinely inspired.
Glover said he knows first-hand that every child needs tremendous support in order to be healthy and happy.
“Children must have a mother and father to love, care and nurture them,” he said. “Every story of success, where we place a child in a family and the match fits—it works—would make you weep.”
Care for Children, founded by Glover and the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau in 1998, has matched over 500 children with families in Shanghai, and another 500 youngsters in homes within other provinces, according to Glover.
He said that foster care in China is parallel to the American notion of adoption in that it means finding a permanent home for the child.
Due to China’s one-child policy, fostering a second child has become a common occurrence in Chinese families, who often have a son and yearn to have a daughter as well.
A year ago, feeling that his role with Care for Children was over, Glover prepared to leave for the U.K. But he said he received an unexpected phone call from a Beijing official, who proposed that he continue his work with foster care institutions in 15 other Chinese provinces, expanding Care for Children.
“In the next 10 years, we hope to see one million children placed in foster homes,” he said.
Glover was invited to Harvard by the Asian American Christian Fellowship and Jonathan Lim ’00.
Lim, who met Glover while researching his senior thesis, said that Glover had forged an exceedingly uncommon closeness with Chinese officials, social workers, parents and children.
“[Glover] has driven Care for Children,” said Lim. “He doesn’t want the focus ever to turn to him. He’s modest, honest and straightforward.”
Glover said that his work with Care for Children illustrates that open-mindedness is the only way to make progress.
“It’s easy to criticize from the other side of the world,” he said. “But to go to China and really try to understand the situation—now that’s a whole other thing.”
Glover, who is the father of six daughters, said that when his work with Care for Children is finished, he will return to the U.K. with his family.
“I plan to raise chickens,” he chuckled.