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.
Dongsheng lives in a remote mountain village in Ping Liang, Jing Chuan. There was no sign of breathing when he was born and doctors rescued him out of this critical stage. As a baby, he was sick most of the time, either cold or pneumonia. Later on, he was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. His parents took him to hospital every few other days. To raise money to treat Dongsheng’s illness, his parents tried to borrow from all of their relatives, friends. Because of poverty, his sister 13 years senior to Dongsheng, dropped out of school when she was a 4-th grader in elementary. Back then, the only goal for the family is to use all the resources they have available for Dongsheng’s treatment.
Until the middle of January 2012 when Dongsheng was one and half years old, he had a successful heart surgery for his congenital heart disease funded by Little Red Scarf. Remember it was one month prior to Chinese lunar new year. The whole family was so happy with tears and finally they can be together to have a peaceful Chinese new year.
Three years went by. On the phone, we can hear Dongsheng calling us aunt with a very clear voice. Sounds like he had recovered quite well. His father told us Dongsheng is doing well and the wound from surgery is no longer noticeable. But he is quite picky in food and therefore, he is smaller than his peers.
Dong sheng in a family of 4, lives in a house constructed with wood and mud in 2002. It is dark in the kitchen and furniture in the bedrooms looks stale.
His father is 48 years old, suffering from chronicle headache. Feel dizziness when his headache got worse. Even though it has been 3 years after the surgery, his family is still $30,000 yuan in debt. To save money, his father can only afford visiting nearby small clinics for treatment. Small clinics are normally poorly equipped, lack of medical experience. Doctor prescribed him some medicine for brain mental weakness. His father settles with whatever the doctor prescribed. Will go to the large, reputable hospital for treatment only when it is absolutely necessary.
His mom is 37 years old, under medication for gynecological disease . Earlier this year, she started having frequent stomach ache. She thought it was caused by cold and didn’t pay much attention. The pain persisted and got worse in March. Checkup showed a gallstone 6cm in size. Again, for the same reason of no money, his mom can only take some pain killer to relieve symptoms.
To reduce the burden on the family, his 18 years old sister is away from home and works for restaurant in the city of Yin Chuan. She is able to help out by sending back home $5,000 yuan per year. His father feels quite guilty whenever mentioned about his sister. Back then, all the resources they had were used to treat Dong Sheng. And as result, his sister had no choice but to drop out of school.
Dong Sheng is almost 5 years old now. He has been under medication all these years. People in the rural area don’t pay much attention to oral hygiene. His teeth corroded and turned brownish. They hope his teeth will get better when replaced by permanent teeth.
The only kindergarten for this village is about 8 miles away. So the family decided to let Dong Sheng to skip kindergarten. In another year, he will be in elementary school. He can walk to school with kids in the same neighborhood. Since there is nobody available in the family taking care of Dong Sheng, so his parents take him along when working in the fields. At first, his parents concerned about him of getting cold or sick. Soon after they realized Dong Sheng rarely got sick and actually got healthier. This is a big relief to them.
Even though Dongsheng is pretty small in size but he is a big help to parents in the fields.
The family farmed on 23 acres of land (9 acres of wheat, 4 acres of rapeseed, 2 acres of corn and soybean, and the rest are persimmon trees). This is their main source of income. From June to August is their busiest farming season of the year. They planted 32 persimmon trees. October is the time to harvest persimmons. Bright red persimmons on the trees look so beautiful. However, the price of persimmons is very low. After working year long in the fields, the total income from the land is about $5,000 yuan only. To Dong Sheng, this farmland is his amusement park. Even though he is pretty small in size but he is a big help to parents in the fields.
Per his father, farming in the rural area is now mechanized. As such, the cattle they raised no longer works in the fields. Since there are plenty of grass available in the fields to feed cattle, they plan to keep the cattle for now and sell it only when there is some urgent need for cash.
Because Dong Sheng is still too young, both parents are not in good health and with little education, it is not suitable for them to work far away from home. When not in the farming season, his father works at local construction site as unskilled laborer to earn $80 yuan a day. His mother works in the orchard to pick up fruits and get paid for $70 yuan a day.
With income from farming, odd jobs and subsidy from their daughter, the family has a total income of $13,000 yuan a year. After all the expenses, they have $4,000 yuan leftover to pay down the debt. His father told us he is 48 years old, both his wife and himself are not in good health. He hopes he can pay off the debt as early as possible so they can feel relaxed.
After surgery, Dong Sheng developed good character and got very active. Wish him happiness and health under the loving care of his parents.
Original Article Written by Aiju Chang, translated by Joe Hsu, edited by Yanyan Zhang
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