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.
15-year-old Yufeng was a sickly child. He was unfit and often caught colds and had diarrhea. The villager doctor believed that Yufeng’s heart had an unhealthy sound. Because their family is poor, Yufeng’s parents did not take him to a larger hospital for a checkup until late 2014, when Yufeng had constant headaches and chest aches. His weak body can no longer hold the serious illness at bay. Upon seeing Yufeng’s struggle with the painful disease, his father vowed to take Yufeng to Lanzhou. After looking at Yufeng’s various checkup reports, the doctor recommended immediate surgery. Because of their poor economic condition, Yufeng’s parents cannot afford the high price of surgery. With Little Red Scarf’s help, Yufeng now has a healthy heart. Half a year after surgery, Yufeng feels healthier. He used to have a hard time walking on sloped roads and would experience tightness in his chest and shortness of breath. Now he can climb sloped roads just fine.
Yufeng’s family consists of 4 people. His mother can no longer do physical labor because of health problems. Yufeng is a sophomore in Yanguan Second High School. His per-semester tuition is 2500 yuan. The old school building does not provide food or board, so he needed to rent a house outside of school and cook for himself. This year, the school moved to a new building and provides free board and has a cafeteria. The daily meal cost is around 15 yuan, or 72 yuan a week. His living cost per year is around 3500 yuan. Yufeng also has a little brother. Because there are no middle schools near Yufeng’s home, his little brother needs to be a eighth grader at Qishan Middle School 10 kilometers away. Qishan does not provide dormitories, so Yufeng’s brother had to rent a house with his classmates for 700 yuan a year. After finishing a day’s worth of homework, they need to immediately return to the house and cook for themselves. They bring rice, flour, and cooking oil from home. Even in the economically prosperous town, Yufeng’s brother still uses a petroleum stove to cook. Compared with middle school students in the city, Yufeng’s brother is a lot more mature and responsible because of poverty. Yufeng’s brother’s living costs each year is only 640 yuan. Calculated this way, the two brothers’ expenses alone amount to over 10000 yuan a year.
Yufeng’s mother had a stroke ten years ago. Her condition visibly improved after two months of treatment, but the treatment cost 2000 yuan. Unfortunately, the good fortune did not last. Five years ago, when getting water on a snowy day, she broke her kneecap. After treatment, although she can walk normally, she cannot do hard physical labor and can only do some household chores. The occurrence of multiple family emergencies forced Yufeng’s father to work locally doing miscellaneous tasks. Working as a construction worker moving concrete earns him .60 yuan per bag of concrete. This hard work can only earn him 6000 yuan a year.
The other villagers all moved to the new village site in the mountain and built new houses. Now they are the only family left in the village. Yufeng’s mother tells us that this house was built using money she saved after her marriage. In this house that is no larger than 15 square meters, the most valuable object is the television. Aside from when the children return from school over the weekends, they do not watch TV to save satellite costs.
Yufeng’s parents’ room does not have a ceiling. Instead, they used some rudimentary plastic stripes to shield them against the dirt and rain. Watermarks, however, are clearly visible, and the plastic stripes are bending from the weight of a purlin made from pieces of rotten wood and straw. A mud brick house this run down is rare even in rural areas.
Yufeng’s family has over ten mu of mountainous land. 3 mu has a new variety of apples that Yufeng’s father planted this year; 3 mu has some rapeseed; over 4 mu has some potatoes. Last year, the earnings from cultivating apples were over 900 yuan, but the investment in the tree seedlings, pesticide, and fertilizer is 1400 yuan. The rest of the crops yield just enough for the family’s daily living costs. The family is clearing falling into debt. The village is also new to planting apple trees. Yufeng’s father hopes to get some technical guidance on how to cultivate the plants.
As for the rapeseed, Yufeng’s father can’t help but tell us that the seeds this year were not good, so the rapeseed plants are few and far between.
Yufeng’s school has a cafeteria. There is an 8 yuan window and a 6 yuan window. Most students choose to go to the 6 yuan window and buy from the 8 yuan window. Yufeng studies very hard. Because he missed a lot of school during his hospitalization and surgery, he uses every minute of his spare time to study on his own.
The two children know how difficult it is for their parents, so they are responsible and understanding and work hard in school. They never ask for more from their parents in terms of living conditions. The parents have high expectations for their children. Although life is difficult, the parents’ delicate care of the children has given them happy lives.
Original blog written by Li Wang, translated by Allison Zhang and edited by Yanyan Zhang
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