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.
Xihong is from a town in Gansu province that lies about 95km south of Lanzhou, almost neighboring Sichuan. It is a convenient area with good access to transportation. His family consists of 4 people total: Xihong’s grandfather, grandmother, father and Xihong. Xihong’s grandparents are not very intellectual, and because they are so much older they have trouble communicating. Meanwhile, Xihong’s father suffers intermittently from mental illness that renders him unresponsive, yet he is the family’s mainstay. Since he is not educated and has no specialized skills, he can only work as an unskilled laborer and comes home just once a month. Thus, Xihong is under the care of his 70+ year-old grandparents for the majority of time.
In Xihong’s village in 2011 there was another child, Xiao Ting, who received surgery for congenital heart disease with the help of Little Red Scarf. It was Xiao Ting’s great grandfather who told Xihong’s father about the successful surgery when Xihong was 8 years old, the same year that Xihong underwent his own surgery. Four years later, Xihong is 13, and except for his small size (which makes him look 8 or 9 years old), he rarely gets sick, is one of the best students in his fifth grade class, and is quite athletic.
Seeing Xihong wear a red scarf to school brings us great joy. He is very well mannered and as soon as he returns home and sees his grandmother cooking, he rushes to help. You can tell by watching him that he does this regularly. His grandmother cooks simply just using starch and a radish to make enough food for three bowls, but Xihong eats enthusiastically.
Xihong’s current house was built last year after the family’s previous home collapsed and became unlivable. His father, aided by several other villagers, applied to the government for reconstruction funds. The new house is unpainted and has exposed wiring, but the family of four is sheltered from the wind and rain. There is no glass window in the kitchen, so they use a flimsy old cloth to block out the elements. Xihong’s awards hand on one of the kitchen walls. They are a little blackened from cooking smoke, but still make it evident that Xihong is a studious child.
Xihong tells us his father’s life is full of hardship. On the manufacturing team he has to lift heavy blocks of cement. Xihong’s eyes also convey his father’s pain as he tells us that his mother abandoned them five years ago. Although he speaks calmly, through his simple words we feel his resentment toward his mother; his father and grandparents’ unending love cannot take her place. We can understand Xihong’s current attitude toward his mom. The neighbors speak of Xihong’s family as having more hardships than any other family in town; nobody wanted to give their daughters in marriage to the men in the family. Eventually the family found wives for Xihong’s uncle and for his father through a familial exchange, although this unorthodox marriage did not last…
Life is much better now for Xihong’s family than it was four years ago, but the neighbors still say it is difficult. Aside from the corn, potatoes and radishes the family grows themselves, they hardly have anything to eat. They cannot afford many vegetables, let alone meat, which may explain why Xihong is so small for his age. Xihong’s grandparents weed and fertilize the fields to grow their crops. However, they are too old to harvest them and need his father’s help for this.
We hope to bring Xihong’s family a carton of milk so that the whole family can drink some. Xihong’s name reflects hope for a better life and we hope that he grows up strong, succeeds in school, and is able to create a brighter future for his family!
Original Article Written by Ying Guan, 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