Little Red Scarf is in Lanzhou, Gansu 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.
Abandoned by Mother, Raised by Father
Xiejuan’s family lives in a small village located in the mountainous regions of Gansu. It is the only multi-ethnic autonomous community in the region. Those that live there mainly grow local potatoes, corn, peppers, and other crops for a living.
Xiejuan’s family consists of four people: her grandmother, father, older sister, and herself. When Xiejuan was three years old, her mother left the family because she was not used to the way of living there. Xiejuan and her sister were raised solely by their father.
Housing Is Like Clothing
Xiejuan’s house is a rustic, adobe building. (Clay rooms are common in the impoverished mountainous area because of their low construction cost). From the outside, the house looks very clean and tidy. Xiejuan’s father told us, "No matter how poor people are, having a house is similar to wearing clothing. You have to maintain it and keep it pretty so that people will not laugh and look down on you just because you are poor."
Hard Work Isn't Enough
When Xiejuan’s mother left the family, Xiejuan's father had to take care of his own mother and the children. In order to do so, he had to find work beyond the village. Thank goodness that their family also owns 21 mu (about 3.5 acres) of mountainous farmland where they could plant potatoes, corn, and peppers to sustain a living. The potatoes and corn are the family's rations. The family makes an income by selling all kinds of ground pepper.
When we talked about Xiejuan’s condition, her father remembers that when she was small, she would chronically get sick. Every month she would get sick at least once. Before, they used to take her to the village clinic to check her condition. Every time they went, it would cost approximately 100 RMB ($15 USD). Although it might not seem like much, for this family, that money could have gone a long way. This year, they went to the clinic just like usual. However, her illness did not appear to get any better, even though she visited the clinic multiple times. On the recent visit to the doctor, they detected that she has congenital heart disease (VSD) and severe malnutrition.
Although Xiejuan looks like she's only five or six, she is in fact, already nine years old. It is precisely because of her congenital heart disease and severe malnutrition that she looks smaller than a normal child.
Mature and Brave
When Xiejuan is in the hospital receiving treatment, she has to take a lot of medicine, along with shots. However, she never cries despite all of this. Even though she is only nine years old, she has already learned how to take care of herself, when she needs to take her medicine, and when she needs a shot. To the doctors, she is more cooperative than the older patients.
Since she does not own any toys, her only form of entertainment is her father’s phone. When she is tired, she will go to sleep without needing an adult to be by her side.
An Amazing Father
Even though Xiejuan’s father puts all his efforts into taking care of her, in the end, he is still unable to fulfill the responsibilities of a mother. But even so, we can see how much love her father has for her. He takes care of the daily tasks as well as takes care of his children. Even though there are still things he is not good at, his actions have truly made us feel how amazing of a father he is.
Needs Expert Surgeons from Beijing
After a series of examinations, the results showed that Xiejuan has VSD, PDA, and the coarctation of the aorta (meaning that the condition is much more serious than originally expected). In order to reduce the risks of surgery, the doctors have decided to invite experts from Beijing to conduct the surgery in order to have a higher chance of success.
Even though Xiejuan does not understand all that she is going through, she calmly waits on her hospital bed. She has already been away from home for over a month now. Her expressions show that she does not understand what the operation would mean or what the future holds. Her calm face makes us all unable to accept the flow of the situation.
Sick Yet Waiting for Surgery
When we went to visit Xiejuan again, she was sick and her face was very pale. She had no energy within her. Unfortunately, her surgery had to be delayed since the experts could not come. When the hospital informed her father about the news, he was very upset. Unable to understand the severity of the situation, Xiejuan was just very happy that she could return home for a while.
Because communication from the Beijing hospital to the Lanzhou hospital takes time, the hospital allowed the currently sick Xiejuan to go home for a while. Furthermore, since the hospital charges for their stay every day and her father was already having difficulty paying for the surgery as it is, the hospital decided that Xiejuan could go home until they were ready to operate on her.
At the moment, we hope that Xiejuan is successfully recuperating at home at this time and getting better so that she is well prepared for the surgery.
Original article written by Wang Li, translated by Nina Chen, edited by Carolyn D.
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