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.
Before visiting Huzi and his family, we looked at his photos when was hospitalized 5 years ago. We tried to imagine how he looks today as a big, tall 20-year-old young man. This visit will also include the visit of his family. Five years after his surgery, Huzi is a county high school sophomore. We took off from Lan Zhou in the morning and arrived our destination 4 hours later. Normally school is over by 6pm for Huzi. Huzi called us around 3pm and told us he got permission from school so he can meet us 3:30pm at school main entrance.
Seeing Huzi coming to the school main entrance on bike, I can hardly believe he is the same Huzi as in the old photo. I guess he probably noticed something different in my eyes. He came to me jokingly speaking with some shyness: "I am Huzi, didn't grow up any taller these years.”. Immediately I apologized for my rudeness. Huzi said “no problem” and the three of us all laughed. This cheerful gesture started off our pleasant get-together.
Huzi rented a small room near the school. There are many such tiny rentals for students around the school. These are 2- to 4-story buildings built by farmers. In general, the facility is very simple, one bed and one table, around 10 square feet in size. Lighting is poor, need to turn on light inside the room during daytime. The rent is about 850 yuan per semester. There are some cooking utensils and vegetables in one corner of the room and books piled up in the other corner. The room looks a little messy and crowded.
Huzi has outgoing personality and very mature as well. Because his family is not well off financially, his sister working in TauYuan and send him 2 to 3 hundred yuan every few months. His father pays for the tuition about 1,000 yuan per semester. Other than that, Huzi rarely asks for money from his father. In Huzi’s class, there are 61 students total. His academic performance ranked in the middle. He said he would like to learn the skills required for a computer technician after his graduation. With this profession, he can find a job and supplement his family income.
When it comes to his father as a farmer at home, Huzi is a little concerned. His mom passed away one and half years ago. His sister is away from home working in TaiYuan and his father is home alone. Now is the raining season and the roof is leaking badly, not safe. Because of cigarette smoking all these years, father coughs all the time. He takes painkiller to treat the pain in his foot. Huzi tried to convince his father to get a loan to repair the leaking roof but was rejected by his father. For this, they even had a serious argument. Huzi said he regret for this after he went back to school. Knowing his father well-intentioned, should not say anything hurt his father.
To save money, Huzi has always been cooking himself at home. Basically, the potatoes he brought from home are his daily main menu. It is simply too expensive for him to dine out. One day, Huzi spent 3.5 yuan for some tomato and vegetables. This made him feel bad for several days. Although Huzi is very young, his cooking is pretty good. His cooking smells so delicious. We can not help but want to eat some.
In the evening we went to his school together. Huzi said he can play table tennis well. I rolled up my sleeves and played few rounds with Huzi. It is time for school evening study, we waved goodbye to Huzi and let him back study, not to be distracted by things at home.
Next morning, we went by car to visit his father.After 1.5 hours driving, we reached his father’s house in the desolate northern mountains.Upon our arrival, Huzi’s father was working in the field. 83 apple trees are the main source of income for his family. His father is introverted, honest. He got these apple trees of older varieties from the commune. Last year was the first year these apple trees started to bear fruits after planted 11 years ! By the end of last year, he sold 300 pounds of apple and received over 800 yuan. His father told us he hopes this year will be better.
This house has been over 50 years old and was left behind by his grandparents. There are visible cracks and holes in the roof over two bed rooms and kitchen. His father told us the leak is pretty bad. Survey done by Murakami Civil Reconstruction and concluded this: Even the village granted him 20,000 yuan as assistance, it is still not enough to repair this house based on his financial capability.Last July, this house started having access to tap water. It is a lot more convenient than it used to be. Cost is about 6 yuan per square.
His father looks older than his actual age of 50. The pain in his foot always bothers him. To save money, he only went to the clinic in town a few times but doctor was unable to figure out what caused this. After Hu Zi’s mom passed away, his father started jotting down everything they spent on.
It started raining when we’re about to leave. Huzi’s father called us early next morning. Told us the rain was quite heavy overnight and unable to sleep whole night. Since his house is on our way to visit another family today, we decided to stop by his house once again and bring 500 yuan to his father from Little Red Scarf. He was very touched when we handed over the money. Told us he just borrowed some money this morning to buy plastic film for the field and need to buy some fertilizer this afternoon. Now, this money solved his big problem.
Huzi’s father thanked us multiple times before we took off. He didn’t expect Little Red Scarf still keep them on mind so many years after the surgery. He hopes Huzi can learn what interested him after graduation from high school. Find a job as soon as possible to offload some financial burden for the family.
Huzi wrote us a note showing his gratitude, and below is the translation in English:
“How have you been ? I am that chubby boy you helped before. I sincerely appreciate your loving care and generous help. Thank you so much.
I am doing fine now. No longer looks like the way I used to be as a boy. I am more stable and mature now. Probably a little more handsome as well.
I am a high school sophomore. From now on, I’ll take opportunity to become one of you. In my heart, Little Red Scarf is my model. Want to be a person with loving, caring heart and be a responsible person as a man.
Here once again, I want to thank you. Thank for your unconditional help. We’ll see each other again and be a real 'friend' forever.”
Original article written by Aiju Chang , translated by Joe Hsu, edited by Yanyan Zhang
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