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.
On August 25, I saw Yan Yan the first time in her hospital room. She was getting oxygen. Her skin was white, with very delicate features, her black hair was combed nicely into two braids with bangs neatly falling on her forehead. She looks like a cute and quite little girl. Her mom was taking of care her at the hospital alone. When her mother saw me, she immediately expressed her gratitude towards Little Red Scarf. Then she started telling her difficulties as we are her family. She said Yan Yan is not able to get off the bed by herself but hospital has already discharged her. Her medications were also reduced since yesterday. She was worried about Yan Yan will not recover fully. I was trying to comfort her by saying there should be no problems to worry since the doctor felt she is ready to go home, she will gradually recover as long as she follows doctor's instruction.
After investigating Yan Yan's situation, I asked the mother to fill out some information. The mother said she does not know how to write, so I have to help her to do the paperwork. However, I was not able to complete it because of Yu Chung Jia 's teacher came to deliver some information and Yu Zai who lives on his own but haven't signed the hospital discharge paper yet came on the appointed time as well. When I was about the resume my writing, Yan yan's brother who works in Kunming came to visit his sister. He was very careful preparing fruit for her sister to eat.
Mother started to describe their present situation. Yan yan's older sister was married and had children. Mother and father were both working at the construction site at Yu Xi, the work was hard but enough for them to make a living. Yan Yan went to school at Yu Xi while her brother went to school at their old home. However, eventually father was unable to continue with his work due to poor health. Until last year, his symptoms had worsened and he started to vomit blood and had blood stools. He was later diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. The family spent all their savings and debts for his treatment, but father still passed away. Afterwards, the mother brought Yan Yan back to hometown and went back to school to study. At school, majority of the tuition fee and living expenses which includes meals and boarding were subsidized by the government for nine years. They only have to pay small amount of tuition and supply fees. This way they were able to save up some money to pay off their debts. Mother has high blood pressure and heart disease and she needs to take medications on a regular basis. When she is extremely exhausted, she needs to go to hospital to receive intravenous injection. She would have it once every one to two month and received it three days continually. It costs $200 per day. As a result of her health, she was not able to work with hard labor at the construction site as before so she went to work at a restaurant at Quin Ming. She is able to make $1300 a month includes meals and boarding. Yan Yan's brother is 22 years old. He is a painter who also works at Quin Ming. His income is unsteady. In good times, he can make $2000-3000 a month. He would also have no income at all for a period of time. Basically he is just able to support himself alone. They do not own a house (I just realize why in the photo Yan Yan and her mother were standing at the corn field instead of their house. According to the requirement of Little Red Scarf, the applicant must provide photos of their house, inside and outside). They were supposed to receive post disaster funding from government with a total of $40,000, but the money can only be given after the house was built. They were not able to borrow so much money to build a house which means they will never the luxury of receiving this funding. During winter and summer holidays, both children have to stay with mother at her working place. There are also grandparents at home. They do not have good health either. If they need to be on medications on a regular basis, mother has to share part of the expanse as father is the oldest of the four brothers.
When mother talked about Yan Yan, she felt tremendous grief and sorrow. Yan Yan has poor appetite, easily get tired and having cold. Her lips would turn purple immediately when there is slight drop of temperature regardless of the season. Her heart was found out to have two holes at the school physical examination last year. She was not able to start treatment due to lack of funding. The Red Cross informed Yan Yan to go to Ren Ming hospital for further examination. Professor Dee, a very respectful person, recommended immediate treatment and Red Cross is willing to provide funding. So they borrowed money from many relatives and friends and able to pay $10,000 for Yan Yan to be admitted to the hospital. They came to the hospital on July 26, 2015. Mother was surprised they have already came for a month. Meanwhile, Yan Yan who has been lying in bed all this time started to explain the date that mother mentioned was in lunar calendar. I started to check the calendar in my cell phone and realized July 26 has not come according to the lunar calendar. Yan Yan and I both realized mother was confused with the date, they came on June 26 in the lunar calendar which is August 10 in our regular calendar. Yan Yan also has high lung pressure. They need to go to the pharmacy to purchase medication which costs $500 for a course of ten days treatment. Operation can only begin after lung pressure normalized. They also need to purchase some medical supplies which costs around $2000, together with the living expanse, there was not much money left. After the operation, Yan Yan had a lot of pain near the wound. Doctor prescribed two pain medications a day, but mother only gives her one a day. The post operation images showed Yan Yan had a successful surgery. However, her wound was not healed completely and she is not able to sleep as a result of pain. Her poor appetite was therefore worsened. She is not even interested in the meat bun that mother bought.
When we visited her on the 26th, she was sitting at the edge of the bed. She looks fragile and weak. Mother was very worried and told me she only at a little bit of radish and congee last night and did not want to eat anything this morning. Although I also felt she ate too little (maybe this is why she is not able to stand and be mobile), but at least there is some progress. I suggested take another photo for Yan Yan, mother quickly kneeled on her bed to groom her hair and carefully lie her down. Although Yan Yan told me before her wound did not hurt anymore, but looking at the photos afterwards, I found out her painful expression. It's just she was grown and became more understanding so chooses not to complain.
I found out she is a very obedient girl. I asked mother about her report card at school. Only at this time, mother showed her smile. She said she does well at school. There are eight classes in her junior high school, and there are about 60-70 students per class. She ranked 94 after the final exam at the end of her second year. She was the seventh in her class. She did not do as well as the year before. Mother said her marks went down because she was worried about her illness. At this moment, I am really proud of this little girl who looks weak but strong. With the passing of her father and her own having illness with much uncertainties duo to tremendous financial challenges, she is able to withstand such difficult life with a strong will, I sincerely wish she will get better as soon as possible and able to return to school. The school that would take away her worry and being proud of. I also hope God can be more unfair to her so she can walk a smooth path. She will be a healthy child after the operation. Without the illness, she can focus on her study, try to get into a good university, find a good job, and take care of her mother. Mother was worried she will not be able to afford her university expanse. For a single mother with limited means and abilities, it is quite normal for her to feel this way. So I comforted her and encouraged her not to worry as time has not come yet. There are government loans and Yan Yan can also find a part time job to help to pay the tuition. Besides, she also has a brother! Mother does not have high hope for the brother and was just happy if he can take care of his own business. Parents nowadays are not expecting and not willing to let their children to share their burden but rather carry their own. Yan Yan's brother is yet still a child!
In the evening of August 27, Yan Yan's mother called me and saying hospital will discharge her daughter the next day. They need to go back to the hospital every two days to have dressing changed as the wound is not healed completely. Mother was very worried because Yan Yan was having a fever so she is afraid Yan Yan will not recover fully and not wanting to be discharged. I suggested to her to discuss with the doctor in regards to the situation.
On August 28, 8:01, mother went to find the doctor. I only saw Yan Yan at the hospital room. She looks a little unhappy. I was not sure whether Yan Yan will be discharged today and I had already made an appointment with another patient’s mother at 8 o’clock so I left her quickly. When I came back to see her later on, she was already gone. I was wondering whether she really left the hospital? Then I heard someone calling me, I saw Yan Yan’s aunt came to visit her. She still needs to go home today. She was just too weak so she was waiting in bed for her mother. She finally showed her smile after seeing her aunt!
On September 8, finally the stitches can come off. Doctor recommended Yan Yan needs to rest for a period of time until the wound completely healed before going home because home was 100 km away and road was very bumpy. The doctor was worried the trip would affect how the wound heal. After Yan Yan discharged from the hospital, she and her mother stayed at a place rented by her brother. Her brother went to stay with his cousin, and uncle who works in the city would provide meals for him. It seems they need to be patient for a while before going home. The organization was planning to have the mother spent more than $10,000 RMB for the operation cost, however, after carefully considering their situation the fee was waived. This can be a very pleasant surprise for the mother, hoping to reduce some of her burden and help Yan Yan to have the opportunities to eat more nutritious food so to recover well. According to Ms. Yeh, after mother heard this news, her first reaction was to planning how to pay off her debts. We can see that it was very difficult for the mother to borrow this $10,000 RMB and the burden she has both finally and psychologically.
On September 10, the sun finally came out. Yan Yan and mother are planning to back home on this Saturday. Doctor instructed Yan Yan to take medications consistently for three months. They went back to hospital to purchase medications. We took some photos again because the previous ones did not turn out well. I am very thankful for their cooperation and hope they will stay healthy and happy forever!
Original article written by Guo Lin, translated by Cindy Yuan, and edited by Yanyan Zhang
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