December 15, 2005

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The Boy Who "Moved China"

Welcome aboard our newest co-blogger, Gordon of The Horse's Mouth.

There are no shortages of people in this world who pity themselves and seek the sympathy of their fellow man for the misfortunes that burden their lives. There are also those who find the strength to rise up and silently endure those burdens while trying to make a difference in someone else's life. However, I doubt many of them are 12 years old.

Hong Zhanhui, a 23-year-old college student, struck a chord in China with the story about his adoption of his sister and support of his troubled family...

Born to a poor peasant farmer's family at Hongzhuang, an outlying village in Xihua County, central China's Henan Province, Hong led a relatively peaceful life until an accident tore apart his five-member family 11 years ago. During one day in August 1994, Hong's father, Hong Xinqing, suddenly began smashing the furniture in their tile-roofed house. His crying mother was kicked to the ground and his one-year-old sister was grabbed by his father and lifted above his head.

"My full sister died, my dad went crazy and my mom was fractured," Hong, now 23, recalled as his eyes reddened at Huaihua Institute, a quiet university campus in central-south China's Hunan Province, where he studies. "It was such a nightmare."

His father was diagnosed with mental illness and then 12-year-old Hong felt like the sky had fallen. Deeply affected by his family's misfortune, Hong first encounter with wide-eyed Chenchen in an abandoned swaddle under a tree outside his village made him believe he was destined to adopt the child.

"You don't raise the baby, I'll take her," Hong told his mother,who considered finding another guardian for the infant. "Whatever happens, I won't leave her."

To add to his hardship, Hong's mother fled their home one day as she could no long stand the violence and pressure brought on by her mentally ill husband. The family collapsed and Hong had to bear the burden of looking after his sick father, his young brother and his new adopted sister. The nights were long as the hungry Chenchen wailed in wee hours and Hong couldn't find anything at their destitute home for her to suckle.

"All I could do is to take her in my arms, walk back and forth and rock her gently," Hong said. To keep the baby away from his insane father, Hong committed Chenchen to a relative's care after he begged nearby woman to feed her every morning before going to school. In the eyes of Hong's neighbors, he was a pathetic kid who had to bring up another one, work in the fields and earn money to buy ataractic for his sick father and support the family.

"At his age, other kids are usually naughty but Hong can handle adult problems," said Sun Liuzhuang, a village doctor and Hong's neighbor. Hong never complained to others about the pressures he endured."He rarely talked about his family and just stayed home, reading and studying," villagers said...Hong sold ball-point pens, books and tapes for learning English. "Many people looked down upon me for the peddling then," Hong recalled. "But I didn't care."

To take good care of his adopted sister, Hong first took her around with him in the county, then to his college about a thousand kilometers away from their home.

I hate to quote so much text from an article, but with all the bad news coming out of China that many of us tend to focus on, it's reassuring to know that not everyone in this world, and especially China, is caught up in selfish materialism.

I'm sure there are more people like Hong in China, but unfortunately their stories usually take a back burner to all the reports of riots and corruption that plague the country.

posted by Gordon on 12.15.05 at 07:14 AM in the China people category.


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