Another day, another email or two or twenty. To be sure, it was an elephant-load of promoting, organizing, rehearsing, reminding, printing, and of course, emailing. But for children suffering from congenital heart disease in rural China, I gladly pressed on.
I’ve been a TFish intern for four years now. Over the years I have followed the stories of many of the Little Red Scarf children, like Hongyan, Jing Chuan, and Ting Ting. My sister put on a benefit concert for LRS a few years ago, and ever since I have been waiting to do the same, but with my own improved twist on it. The program would not be limited to classical music—instead, a mix of everything, from Bach to Bruno Mars to Simon and Garfunkel. And not just the typical piano and violin performances—we would have quartets, duos, piano, violin, viola, cello, guitar, ukulele, singing, and even beatboxing. And as if that wouldn’t be enticing enough, free bubble tea and giveaway prizes to boot. I wanted the audience to have as much as fun as the performers.
The ideas and goals were set in motion, but there was so much more to prepare. I started planning two months before the actual concert, garnering support from the board members of TFish, putting together the program, and finding community sponsors. I couldn’t do it alone, of course, being only a lowly high school student with homework and APs to worry about. Mom helped immensely, driving me to all my destinations, and even my siblings helped by asking a few businesses for their support. The TFish board lent me Mr. Chan to speak at the fundraiser and Susanna volunteered to oversee the donation table. Foothill Covenant Church graciously allowed me to host the fundraiser in their sanctuary. Actually, when the concert was only a week away, I wasn’t sure if anyone would even show up! But to my surprise (and relief), over 90 people attended, and a friend even drove all the way from Dublin, CA.
And in the midst of all the preparation, it was important to remember who I was really sending scores of emails for—the children in China. A benefit concert would be the perfect way to not only provide heart surgeries for them, but also to raise awareness of their needs among my friends and family. My musically-talented friends from orchestra, the SF Conservatory of Music, and my homeschool world all came together to perform.
I have grown through the preparation of Noteworthy, my musical fundraiser. But even more important to me was the fact that five more children in China could receive new hearts, new life, and new hope! Despite the grueling work that went on behind the scenes, I would go through the entire process again, just for them. From my heart to theirs.
Love Has Transformed Me
Love helps people grow and transforms lives. The love from Little Red Scarf is just like the love parents shower their children with—never ceasing and never failing, accompanying every child in their care....It seems as if even ten million thank you’s would not express my appreciation. Little Red Scarf’s love needs to be passed on, so that every person in need of help can feel its warmth.
In early August 2016, I received an invitation to attend a summer camp that was organized by Little Red Scarf.
This was my second time participating in Little Red Scarf’s summer camp. The first time was in 2010, just three months after the completion of my surgery. Since then, six years have gone by.
After volunteering at the 2016 Little Red Scarf Summer Camp, Cindy shares about her personal experience.
The trip to Gansu was such a rewarding and unforgettable experience! It was truly amazing to see these children face-to-face, and now they have a place in my heart.
What was it like to meet the children in person, after helping to translate their stories?
For the past few years, I have been working with my son to translate stories for children who went through congenital heart disease surgery. As I was translating their stories, it was obvious their lives were very distant from me. It is very difficult for someone who has been living in North America for nearly 30 years to imagine living in rural Gansu and the problems they are facing.
I had never been to China before. This trip to Gansu was the first visit to this country. We were a bit nervous and anxious as we prepared for this trip. When we landed in Gansu, the staff member Guan Ying made us feel welcome. She took us for our first famous Lanzhou beef noodles and also introduced to us the lives of the children and the mission of their work.
After an hour of sitting on the train and another hour of riding the bus, we finally arrived at the camp location. It was truly amazing to see these children face-to-face after translating their stories. We got to talk to them, hold their hands, play games, and sing songs with them. They were a great group of kids! We had so much fun together.
Little Red Scarf is in Lanzhou, Gansu province and provides financial support and encouragement to children suffering from congenital heart disease. In addition, they provide families with post-operative care and help the children sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Yihong and his sister Yixia came to the 2016 LRS Summer Camp in Lanzhou. Whenever Yihong's name is mentioned, the image of him racing in the fields always come to my mind. That memory was from when we made our follow up visit last summer, eight months after his heart surgery. I witnessed an energetic, naughty boy who had been transformed from the serious sick kid he used to be. Our team was very happy, and we sensed the joy in the family as well.
During that visit, we also met Yixia, the younger but taller sister, who was full of curiosity.
I Have Arrived at Summer Camp
I really like the summer camp. At the summer camp, we learned to respect, protect, and care for each other, like a huge family.
During the summer camp, the teachers treated us very nicely. One day, we played a game called musical chairs. Brother Xiao Wen was really good at the game. He got up just as quickly as he sat down.
My First Summer Camp
The camp taught me to never give up. It enabled me to realize the importance of self-reliance, self-esteem, being thankful, and cooperation.
I looked forward to the day that I would leave for summer camp, and I made all sorts of preparations.
On August 7, I once again received a call from Teacher Guan. She said that I could attend the summer camp the next day, and I was beyond excited. I couldn't sleep the whole night.
A Summer Camp Too Happy and Fun to Forget
While most people look at heart disease as something negative, I felt that I was blessed to have this heart disease. Without this heart disease, I would not have been able to come to this camp and experience such happiness. I secretly celebrated that I had this heart disease.
I’ve never been to a summer camp before. I have never felt more blessed, happy, and warm-hearted than when I went out to play during this summer camp. What I didn’t expect is that the Little Red Scarf summer camp would let me feel blessed, happy, and warm all at once.
I felt blessed to be at a camp that gave me so much happiness. We were all very unified, like a team.
This summer I attended the Little Red Scarf summer camp, where I met different friends from different parts of Gansu province.
I had lots of fun during the camp and played many games. My favorite was called “A heart with a thousand knots.” In this game, we grouped up into a circle holding hands and each person remembered who was on their left and right sides. Our ordering would then be scrambled and then we would find a way to hold hands with our two original left-right partners, forming a huge “knot.” We then had to find a way to get back into the original ordering, slowly undoing the “knot.”
On top of having fun, we would learn a new principle of life with each game. In addition to games, there were 4 volunteers that led our classes. They were all so great, especially Xiao Wen, who was always making us laugh.
The camp is very sincere and full of loving people. I also learned a lot. In the future, I want to be caring like all of them.
When my younger brother was 4 years old, he had congenital heart disease. Due to conditions at home, my family had financial problems. Without the aid of Little Red Scarf, I do not know how we could have afforded the cost of the surgery. Thanks to the surgery, my brother is now slowly recovering.
In 2014, I had the very fortunate opportunity to participate in the summer camp. I was very happy as I played together with many other children. In 2016, my brother and I came here. We met a bunch more friends. There were many amazing teachers, like teacher Chang. We even met two people called Jiaju and and Xihong. They are all always smiling and full of love.
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