Little Red Scarf is in Lanzhou, Gansu and Yunnan provinces 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.
Rong Zhi is a 7-year-old girl of the Yi ethnic minority group. We were fortunate that her parents can speak Mandarin. They acted as my translator when I talked with Jianhong’s mother. Thanks to them, my communication with Jianhong’s mother went smoothly.
Rong Zhi and her parents arrived in Kunming in the evening. At that time, it was raining in Kunming, and the temperature had dropped. The family of 3 walked for about half an hour to get to the hospital. It was late at night when they finally arrived. When they submitted their paperwork, they were sent to another sector. The long drive made Rong Zhi homesick.
When I visited them the next day, they were checking in. When the doctor asked Rong Zhi's mother how much money they had brought with them, she said, “1,000 RMB ($150 USD),” which surprised the doctor. The mother explained that the amount was for daily expenses. The doctor wrote some notes and said they would check in at 2:00 pm. It was the doctor’s first time to be in such a situation. According to the regulations, the patient has to pay part of the deposit before they check in. Fortunately, Rong Zhi successfully checked in that afternoon.
Rong Zhi is pretty, and she was curious about the new environment and me. She was not doing very well, and her face was yellow. She kept quiet when I was talking to her mother.
The family lives in a remote village in the northwest part of Yunnan province. There are about 10 households in the village. Rong Zhi seldom plays with the other children. The transportation is not convenient, and they have to walk about 4 hours just to get to the market. Rong Zhi and her brother have to board at school.
Hearing this, I could not help but be concerned for her brother who is in Grade 7. He has to take care of himself. Rong Zhi is in kindergarten, but she has to board at school. Her mother said she had got accustomed to living at the school. She could take care of herself and washed her socks and clothes.
Rong Zhi’s grandparents live with them. Her grandfather has been suffering from epilepsy. The family could not afford to be treated in the hospital. Her grandmother has rheumatism, which makes her fingers swell. The family lives in a house made of mud. They have 3 mu (about half an acre) of fields. They grow corn and harvest about 6,000 kilograms each year. The family raises a cow, which could be sold for 3,000-4,000 RMB ($450-$600 USD). The money would be used for Rong Zhi and her brother’s school expenses. Her parents also collect some wild mushrooms during the rainy season, which would generate about 1,000 RMB ($150 USD) of income. These are the sources of the family's annual income.
Rong Zhi was diagnosed with congenital heart disease in October 2014 when she caught a cold in kindergarten. Her parents had no more money for the operation, so they had to go back home. Fortunately, Rong Zhi met LRS in September 2015. The family just had to prepare for their temporary living expenses while they were in Kunming.
Rong Zhi’s parents wanted to protect their child’s privacy, so they just told her teacher and village chief. Her mother was concerned about Rong Zhi having her photo taken. I told her we would protect the child. To save money, her father slept on the floor with only a blanket. The temperature in Kunming dropped to 10 Celsius during the rainy days. I was not sure how her father managed it.
At 10:00 AM on October 13, 2015, Rong Zhi fell asleep in the ward. She had the operation last night. Her mother told me the doctor had thought to do general anesthesia, considering her age. She cried and promised to behave well during the operation. In the end, the doctor did local anesthesia. She was brave during the operation and the doctor did a patent ductus arteriosus occlusion successfully. Her mother showed me her photo with Jianhong. The day before the operation, Jianhong’s grandmother took 2 children to play in the zoo and Green Lake Park. They were very happy.
Rong Zhi was awakened by our talking. She opened her eyes and said she felt like sleeping. We stopped talking.
The next day, Rong Zhi could go back home. I explained to them why I was taking photos of them. They agreed immediately and kept saying, “Thank those kind people who help us.” Rong Zhi, a shy girl, also said thank you, which surprised me. Though they didn't say more than that, it expressed their full gratefulness.
A gentle “thank you” seemed so nice. We hope Rong Zhi will recover soon so that she can sing as much as she likes when she grows up.
Original article written by Guo Lin, translated by Maggie Li, and edited by Yanyan Zhang and Carolyn D.
TFISH FUND BLOG
We update news and reports directly from the field written by our NGO partners daily.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
IN THE NEWS