Little Red Scarf is in Lanzhou, Gansu and Yunnan 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.
Zhuan Zhuan is a young mother who had a successful heart surgery in May 2013 with aid from Little Red Scarf. Two months after the surgery, on July 22 that same year, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake shook the area and made the family’s old house dangerous to live in. Zhuan Zhuan’s family and the local villagers were able to start rebuilding their homes after receiving some government support.
To the villagers, rebuilding new houses is an uphill battle; the former yard is a mound of sand. Zhuan Zhuan’s father had personally done a year’s worth of digging and preparation to rebuild. Transportation is not convenient in the area; there is only one bus route each day into Tang Xian city and if you take the wrong one, you need to take three other buses just to get there. It takes over five hours on a dusty road, or half a day to get to town. Going to Lanzhou requires an entire day’s worth of travel.
Zhuan Zhuan’s family has three daughters and no sons because of a lack of no brothers, because of the lack of labor. Zhuan Zhuan’s husband came to his wife’s home but half of the time he is on the mountain herding cattle and sheep. He usually returns home about once a month to collect some things. Zhuan Zhuan said that last year both she and her husband worked; she waitressed in a restaurant, while her husband found small on-demand jobs. Their combined income in six months was over 20,000 yuan, so they were ready to return home and pay off the debt from her surgery and use the rest to build a house. But, within a few days of getting home, she had insufferable stomach pain and went to the local hospital, where they discovered she had abdominal cancer. Last August she had surgery, and the hospital stay cost 15,000 yuan. Combined with living expenses, all the money they had earned was fully spent. This year Zhuan Zhuan and her husband have had to stay home to build the house so they have been unable to work. Her husband borrowed 20,000 yuan to buy 2 cows to supplement their household’s 30 sheep. Now that the grass is tall, her husband has gone to put the animals out to graze, and will only be back once a month.
Zhuan Zhuan’s family has 7 people. Her older sister is away working as a migrant laborer. Her younger sister is in middle school living in the school dorm; her living expenses are about 3000 yuan. Zhuan Zhuan’s 5 year-old son is in the village kindergarten; his tuition costs 1,000 yuan per year. Her son is bright and cute and can say a few words in Mandarin and can show you how to brush teeth. When you see him, you do not see the shadow cast by the earthquake. Zhuan Zhuan’s parents are in good health and the rest of the family relies on them to handle a number of things.
Two years after her surgery, Zhuan Zhuan is healthy. She regularly does housework and also helped with small tasks like shoveling gravel or moving things to help build the house. Building a house is a big job, so small tasks are the responsibility of the whole family. Two years after the earthquake, the house is not completely done being built and the family is 60,000 yuan in debt. In order to qualify for reconstruction funds, the new house has to have tiles and windows. Zhuan Zhuan says, ”Sometimes I’m like my chest is tight and it’s hard to breathe. I think about going to Lanzhou for a check up but our finances are tight so I don’t dare.”
Zhuan Zhuan’s family raises some chickens and Juema pigs. The locals all have these pigs – they can be seen everywhere along the road. This is a special characteristic of Minxian. It is said their meat is very good and can fetch a higher price.
Zhuan Zhuan’s entire family is very hard-working. We believe that their hardships are temporary and that through everyone’s diligent efforts, that each day will get better. After going through a large earthquake, a healthy family is a joyful one!
Original article written by Guan Ying, translated by Shao-Ru, edited by Yanyan Zhang
TFISH FUND BLOG
We update news and reports directly from the field written by our NGO partners daily.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
IN THE NEWS