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.
The first time I met Xiao Yan was on October 13 of 2014, she just accepted the surgery. She was admitted by the hospital on October 12. When her father heard she did not need to take injections, he took her to visit their relatives in Kunming. The doctor called him at night and told him the time of surgery, so we did not see Xiao Yan before the surgery.
In the afternoon, I met Xiao Yan’s father at the rest district of the ward. A man was walking towards me who was Xiao Yan’s father. Following him, I came to Xiao Yan’s ward. She was lying on the bed and looking at me with alert. When I ask her if her wound hurt, she shaked her head. After I took one photo, she lied down and fell asleep.
I did not ask more questions. According to her father, she was found congenital heart disease in a school physical examination. They had no idea about the disease before the emamination. Then he took the child to different hospitals and submitted medical aid application to several orgnizations, but received no reply.
I did not see mother’s certificate of regiatration, so I asked her father. He laughed and said her biological mother had left the family long ago and he had not registrated with her stepmother. Feeling at loss, I looked at Xiao Yan. She was lying still and the quilt covered her face.
When I verified each item on the form, I found the difference in family members. When I asked him again, she laughed and said his new wife gave birth to another 3 children who had not been registrated. The family has total 6 children. I could not help shaking head when I got to know the truth. Xiao Yan is the eldest of them. She is 13 and the youngest one is 2. The family of 10 depends on 1 mu of field and grows some corn and potatos. The grandmother was disabled in right hand and cannot take care of herself. The family has to take care of another 77-year-old woman without family. The burden of the big family falls on a man who does temps. The difficult of the family is beyond imagination.
I tried to suggest that he has enough children and more children would bring more burdens for the family. Her father agreed and said he had accepted birth control operation last year.
Her father said Xiao Yan’s stepmother is better and a woman nearby talked soemething bad about the stepmother whom she had met. At this time, Xiao Yan sat up. I told her I would to take more pictures and she agreed. I am not sure for what reason. Why the girl was so sad in front of the camera.
At the moment, the woman nearby said Xiao Yan is a poor girl from her hands. I touched her little rough hands gently. I got to know later that she did a lot of field work.
Her father said she’s a good girl and did a lot of housework at home. She went to school early. I said she’s the eldest of the children and must bear more. Her father agreed and talked about their failure in medical aid applications.
During the period, Xiao Yan kept silent. Her father went out for the cigarette and I was managing the materials. I noticed Xiao Yan lowered her head when the woman nearby mentioned about stepmother.
I asked her if everything was okay. She shook her heads.
I tried to ask if her stepmother did something bad to her. She nodded and the tears came out. I did not proceed the topic.
I had to comforted her that she would feel better to have good health. I said to her no matter what happened, you are not alone and never give up.
When I left the ward with sorry, I told her father she needs rest for some time and during the period, less houswork is necessary.
Her father agreed and said he would try his best to let the children stay at school and finish their education no matter how hard he would be.
Now I happened to meet Sansan, a staff from Zhong Jia, who introduced her operation in detail to me. She was lucky to find a doctor to do the operation and did not have to do a risky open chest surgery.
When I saw her again on October 14, 2014, she was able to leave hospital with smile. I gave her a hand lotion and a little bag of candy. She put them into her little backpack.
In the afternoon, her father finished all paper needed by the hospital and had to copy some materials. I went with them. Xiao Yan walked not so steady, but she kept trying to catch up with her dad.
I understand the helpless and difficulities of the family of 10. Over a mu of field could not sustain the whole family, so her father has to do some temps in Kunming. He has tried his best to keep the family with food and education for the children.
As for Xiao Yan, we have done what we could. I hope she would have good health with the help of Little Red Scarf and find a happy seed that belongs to her.
Original article written by Qianhua Liu, translated by Maggie Li and edited by Yanyan Zhang
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