Little Red Scarf is an NGO that sponsors congenital heart surgeries for diseased children. The following is an extremely touching story of Cun Hua, a girl from Wu Wei, Gansu, who had to endure through so much suffering because of her family's inability to afford surgery for her heart condition.
At 14 years of age, a child's life is supposed to be full of energy and memorable adventures. As for Cun Hua, she has been having a monotonous 14 years; her adventures are limited to simple household chores. She sews insoles of shoes, helps her Grandma wash and cut the vegetables, and sweeps the floor. Cun Hua’s heart disease has inhibited her physical ability to play and have fun, draining her childhood of its wonder.
When Cun Hua was 3 months old, her parents received news that she had congenital heart disease. They were devastated. After all, she was their first child. As days passed, her parents began to feel a bit more comforted as Cun Hua seemed to be growing up just fine. Other than the fact that she caught the cold quite often, she wasn't much different from all the other children. At that time, the family's rough economic situation didn't even allow them to consider surgery as an option.
When she was 4 years old, Cun Hua’s lips began to show symptoms of cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin, due to lack of oxygen). Whenever she ran around and played, the color of her lips and face would deepen in color as the cyanosis become more serious. Her parents could obviously notice that Cun Hua no longer had the stamina to keep up with her friends' energy. Two years later, her cyanosis had become even more pronounced. At first glance, everyone would notice that she had black lips and a dark face. Her conditions worried the parents. While other kids were getting ready for school, Cun Hua had to stay home since no school would enroll her due to her illness.
Cun Hua's family owned five acres of land, but as a result of many years of drought, they could barely scrape together enough food to feed the five mouths in the family. Working in the fields couldn't cover their living expenses, let alone the urgent surgery that their daughter needed, so the parents decided to move to a larger city in hopes of finding better-paying jobs. They did, but their monthly income of about 300 yuan (about $46 USD) was far from enough. During this time, Cun Hua lived with her grandparents and could not communicate with her parents. It was not until a few years later that the family finally got access to a telephone. But, by then, Cun Hua felt distanced from her mom and dad - they had become fuzzy memories from her childhood.
When Cun Hua turned 13, she began to realize the significance of her heart disease. She made the connection that her blue-ish purple lips and swollen fingers were symptoms of her illness. Also, she saw that other children could help their families knead dough, but she could only mix the flour and water because she did not have the strength to knead. When she left the house, many of the village neighbors would stare at and talk about her disfigured fingers. After a while, whenever she walked out out, Cun Hua would cross her arms and hide her hands, hoping that less people would notice her fingers. On the contrary, it seemed to attract even more unwanted attention.
A month before Cun Hua’s 14th birthday, her parents finally took their deposit from the many years of work, and brought Cun Hua to the hospital. Her uncle had seen LRS posters about congenital heart disease surgery relief, and had made contact with our LRS staff. The first day I saw Cun Hua, even from afar, I was completely taken by surprise by her appearance. I slowed my pace down in shock, studying the discoloration of her skin and lips. I didn’t know how she had managed through her disease. At the time, Cun Hua and her parents had just walked out from the doctor’s office. All of their eyes were red from crying, and I realized the doctors did not see an optimistic future for the young girl.
Still, the parents felt they owed so much to their child. She didn’t even want to call them “Baba, Mama” after being away from them for so many years. With this feeling of guilt, the parents wanted to give Cun Hua a chance at surgery, regardless of the outcome. After all, for all these years, the only reason why the parents had distanced themselves was to save money for her surgery. They understood their dear child’s resentment towards them. But right now, to them, the most important thing was to try to give Cun Hua a surgery, a healthy body, a hope. Only from there can they possibly begin to eliminate barriers in their relationship and restore the love that they once shared.
Original article translated by Janna Wang, edited by Kevin Mo.
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