Growing up in Heilongjiang

“I am doing the home visit of two students whose home is far away from school, but the road is not open yet, so every day they need to walk around 40 minutes to get to their school. The school teacher and I visit their family’s’ small home.  Today I will talk about one of the boys named Zihe.  Zihe lives with his Dad in a house belonging to his aunt, the house is not large, and it is made of brick which is painted. When you first get into the house, there is a kitchen which uses a fire to cook and the kitchen is also a storage room.  Except the Kang (a coal heated brick bed) for sleeping, there are only 1.5 meters wide left.  Inside the house there is only an old wardrobe, and it doesn’t have any electricity.  Zihe’s father went out for an injection because of serious paralysis. His aunt came by and I learned from her that the only income of Zihe’s home is the low monthly premiums (this is what the government gives to the poorest homes). For the cost of his Dad’s injections and medicine, the government will help with the cost, but his aunt and other three siblings cover the rest and subsidize his family.  Before, Zihe’s relatives could let him live in school.  But now , because of his father’s sickness, Zihe has to live at home, as the cost of living at school is too much for them.  There I saw Zihe is very close to his aunt, like mother and son.  He behaves like a little adult in front of his aunt, and tries to show that he is very mature.  But when he is outside of the house, he became a little mischievous; whenever  I tried to take photos of him, he always hid behind the teacher and sometimes he ran and hid behind the coals.  So we see the two sides of this child and realize that while he wants to be mature to help his Father and Aunt in these difficult circumstances, at heart he is still an innocent child, like every other boy of his age around the world, who wants to run and play and have a little fun.”

This article was written by Pheonix, our field staff in Heilongjiang province. Pheonix co-ordinates the progress reports from the 150 children we support in various schools in this region and part of her job is to visit the families of the children in our program.  Because of the severe weather conditions there (frozen 7 mths of the year), she has to wait until the roads are clear of snow to carry out the family visits. The boy she writes about, (Zi He) is in our program because his father was not able to make enough money to support the two of them, he often borrowed from relatives for food and Zi He would go to school with an empty stomach.  We are happy to report that thanks to his kind sponsor, he is doing well at school, his academic achievements are very good and he would like to be a badminton player when he is older.

We have many children in poor circumstances in Heilongjiang who need sponsors. If you would to find out more, please go to our web page:

(pictured: Top, Zihe with his aunt; Bottom left and middle, On the way to Zihe’s home; Bottom right, Zihe with his dad).


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