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Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Vist to He Jinhua's Home

While I was in Yangshuo recently a teacher arranged for me to visit the home of one of our students, He Jinhua. She has been a Blessing Hands student since the fall of 2005 when we first began supporting the students of Anding Primary School. One of the teachers who attended our summer English camp taught there and submitted a list of students in the school who could not afford their tuitions.

In the summer 2006, our summer group held an eyeglass clinic, and He Jinhua was there for her well child physcial and eyeglass exam. The group also visited her school and found it badly in need of repairs and needing a water system. Nina Ottinger of Founding Family Charitable Foundation was with us that trip and took it as her foundation's project to repair the school and help them finish the water system. The winter of 2007, Nina and I returned to the school to see the repairs and greet the students.

I always noticed Jinhua because she had such distinctive eyes, so I was delighted to be invited to her home. Her father was home for Chinese New Year, but his boss had refused to pay him for cutting wood. Many migrant workers are cheated this way. Jinhua lives with her elderly grandmother, since her mother left when she was very small. Her uncle went out of the village to work ten years ago and has never been heard from again.

Jinhua has now graduated to lower middle school at Gaotian National School. A national school is usually for minorities, and there are many Zhaung people in her area. It took us a long time to get to her home from her school. That is why she probably is a boarding student. Her home was the first house by the ancient village gate, so her family has lived there a long time I was told.

We were invited to sit on small stools by a wood fire, the only heat in the home. They had electricity that supplied light from bulbs when evening came. Neighbors came by to visit, and Mr. He invited us to stay for supper and spend the New Year holiday with them.

Jinhua, whose name means golden flower, was delighted to have us visiting. She eagerly showed me their kitchen and her bedroom. She had decorated her bedroom with lovely folded paper birds and streamers. A light bulb hung from the ceiling along with a yellow curled fish. Mosquito netting and bars on the window protected her bed. Just she and her grandmother live in the big old house.

The lean to kitchen has a wooden cutting board and fire pit. Food is bought fresh each day so there is no need for cold storage. They sit on low stools while cooking. In a nearby window was all they needed to start the day including tooth brushes and paste, incense sticks, and other unknown creams or medicines.

We felt very warm and welcomed in their home, although we could not spare the time to stay for a meal or overnight. They understood that I had relatives at home waiting for me too.