According to their motto - “Love, truth, and service to community” - Xingyang Volunteer Federation works to enhance people’s sense of social responsibility through providing them various volunteer opportunities.The office is in Xingyang, Henan province
In my mind, home should be somewhere comfortable and warm, a shelter from the outside world. But does the structure in this photograph elicit thoughts of home?
This newly-constructed structure, which Xingze volunteers helped fund, houses six senior citizens.
Per our leader’s request, we went to Han village in Qiaolou City to find the couple’s newly rented home. After asking for directions from many people, the three of us arrived at the remote place and were stunned; was this really a home? The yard was overgrown, and the place was desolate and devastating. Two dilapidated tile-roofed houses were on the verge of crumbling. The cave was at least 70 years old, its walls marred by cracks and ground uneven. Farming tools were scattered all over the floor, and a steamed bun sat rock-hard on the stove for who know how long. They couldn’t afford to use liquefied gas and were reluctant to use briquettes, so they used the heat from firewood to cook. In a few woven bags we found the entirety of their clothes for all four seasons; I rummaged through and found old colorless clothes, and all this was what the couple called home. Seeing all of this, the heaviness in our hearts was self-evident, and our hearts twinged in pain. The tile-roofed house was locked, and as we peered inside, we saw many farming tools that were probably abandoned by their owner, unfit for use by the elderly.
We couldn’t find the old man, but we heard nearby villagers say that he had gone to his old residence to retrieve items. Because we are familiar with his old residence, we were able to go there immediately. When we arrived, he was standing in middle of the house, surrounded by the ruins of his previous life. He had put a lifetime of blood and sweat into this home, and now all that was left was piles of debris.The wrinkles on his face were testament to a life of hardship, and his eyes, clouded with tears, we saw reluctance to leave his home behind and concern about what life holds for him next. He built this home brick by brick; so much emotion and care went into it. Even in its tattered condition, it is still one hundred times more precious than the cave he resides in now.
From talking with the old man, we got the understanding that their daughter-in-law gives him the cold shoulder and finds them dirty, and they have not lived together for a while now. Their son now rents a flat in town. Because the couple is quite old, many people are not willing to rent out their accommodation to them. He also received compensation for the remodelling of the house, but it was taken away by his daughter-in-law. He asked his son for 400 yuan to pay his annual rent, only to receive a demeaning lecture from his daughter-in-law as his son teared up but did nothing to defend him. His son said he sold all of the “trash” in the house in the hopes that it could pay for a year’s worth of rent, and when I heard this I felt bitterly disappointed. I felt compelled to ask this unfilial, good-for-nothing son: When you were younger your parents raised you diaper by diaper, and now that they are old and need your attention, you can’t even provide them with a basic shelter to protect them from wind and rain? You will be old one day too, and your parents’ present will be your future!
After the visit, I could not find peace in my heart for a while, and I was full of melancholy. As we reside in bright, spacious houses, and live in such privileged environments, worrying about what to eat and thinking that our closets are lacking that one shirt, how often do we pause to think about couples like this who have no place to live and question whether they will have three meals a day?
On April 23th, Xingze volunteers once again visit the elderly. On April 23 in the afternoon, the Zhang couple's daughter-in-law brought us to the cave that Zhang Wangzhuang dwells in. The cave was discovered by Zhang’s son, who pays the 400 yuan per year rent. By visual estimation, the cave looks quite old and unsafe, especially during the rainy season. Xing Ze volunteers are concerned about the living environment, residential security, and various aspects of daily life, and made recommendations to the son regarding these issues. We also gave the couple two books: Filial Piety and Happiness and Creating happiness. I hope they take these lessons to heart, and create a safe and comfortable environment for the elderly. Xing Ze volunteers will give maximum attention to each beneficiaries of a project, and provide legal assistance when necessary.
Original article written by Coffee , translated by Emma Cockerell, edited by Yanyan Zhang
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