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A beautiful day

02034 Che Jian Xin
Translated by Nie Xu Min

There are four of us in my family, my father, my mother, my little brother and me. When I was in primary school, my brother was still a toddler. My mother couldn't go out to work because she needed to take care of him. The whole family relied on my father to farm a few acres of land. This was barely enough to provide for my family the basics for food and clothing. In my memory, my father often had to go to the city to work. At that time, the economy was not as good as it is now. My father could not earn enough for the family's living expense. There was no phone then. Sometimes we went for months without contacting my father.

My parents often had fights when my father was at home. Later, I understand that it was "the sorrow of the poor couple". When my little brother grew older, my mother worked day and night to earn a small income to support the family. It was rare that we had rice and lard for meal. We mostly survived on corn and cassava. We lived in a thatched house with fence wall. On rainy days, the roof leaked and water seeped through the wall. My mother put all the buckets and pots on the floor to catch the rain water and dug water channel behind the house with a hoe. She would be utterly exhausted.

The fence wall did a poor job of insulating sound and blocking light. During rain storms, thunders roared and bright lighting struck. I was scared. My mother would hold my brother and me tightly in her arms to comfort us. No matter where I go, when it rains, my heart will ache and I start to miss my mother dearly. The extreme poverty made me grow up early and bear the life burden that I shouldn't have for my age. For example, when I left home to attend Yuanyang No.1 High School, I would worry about whether there was a leak in my family in rainy days. During summer, I would worry about whether the family had enough rice.

Poverty had caused most of the difficulties for me when I grew up. The unique and dramatic journey of my study is the ultimate testimony to the extent of the poverty of my family. After finishing second grade of primary school in my local village, I needed to go to a neighboring village for third and fourth grade. This meant that I needed to board with relatives or friends. Each week I needed a few pounds of rice for food, which my family could not afford. In addition, my relatives were not well off either. It became a huge struggle for me to go to school. Fortunately, one of my uncles was better off and willing to let me stay in his home.

I needed to go to central school for fifth and sixth grade. Our family could not afford the fees for textbooks, which was only a few dozen yuan. So many times on Sundays after getting back to school, I had to go to the head teacher deeply embarrassed and repeat the same thing: "teacher, my mother wanted to know if she could pay the textbook fee later. She will have the money after selling the spring tea in a few days. The kind teachers always helped me, paying the fee out of their own pockets. When I tried to repay them after the spring tea was sold, they won't accept the money. When I was in central school, in order to save a few yuan, I often ate the pickled vegetables I brought from home so I did not have to buy any dish from school cafeteria. In one most extreme case, one salted duck egg from my grandmother lasted me five meals in a row! Although life was hard, I was fortunate that I graduated from primary school.

The first time I faced a big challenge was when I was about to go to high school. At that time, I was admitted to Yuanyang No.1 High School. I couldn't get in touch with my father, who had gone to the city to work. My mother had to go door-to-door to borrow money. All she got was sarcasm and ridicule. When other freshmen students were going through their military training in the Yuanyang No.1 High School playground, I was crying at home day and night . Maybe Lady Luck was moved by my tear and decided to help. A kind and compassionate uncle in a neighboring village learned about my situation. He came to my home and took me to Yuanyang No.1 High School. I could finally continue my study.

I studied hard at Yuanyang No.1 High School, cherishing this hard won opportunity. At that time, high school was not free. I tried to win scholarships every semester to help with my living expense. Another big problem was the tuition and book fee, which was several hundred yuan per semester. At the beginning of every school year, I dreaded that fact that my mother had to go door-to-door in vain to borrow money. I had to gather enough courage to go to the headmaster and ask for postponement or reduction of some fees.

One day, the head teacher asked me and a few other schoolmates to meet a lady from the United States. It was the first time I met aunt Jeng. Aunt Jeng was amiable, humorous and wise. She took us to a restaurant for dinner. We talked about our ideals, our dreams, our beliefs and our values. So many years have passed, I still vividly remember every detail of that day. Aunt Jeng came into my life and brought me unexpected changes. I had the honor and good fortune to become a PEACH kid.

PEACH provided me with tuition and living expenses. From then on, the start of school year became a special wonderful thing for me. During winter, I received warm clothing such as scarf and gloves from the uncles and aunts of PEACH. These little things comforted and warmed both my body and my heart. During summer, I participated in the summer camp. That experience completely opened my eyes and mind. I became honest and at ease with myself. I did not feel inferior anymore. Aunt Jeng's "happy life" philosophy, PEACH volunteers' responsible and positive attitude towards life and work, and letters of encouragement from PEACH to PEACH kids. All these have brought me positive energy and filled me with hope and confidence for the future.

In 2007, I was admitted to Yuxi Normal University. During the four years in college, I won two provincial scholarships and one university scholarship. I was awarded the honor of “Excellent Graduate” when I graduated. In my spare time, I took tutoring, sales promotion and other part-time jobs to supplement my own living expenses. During my senior year, my father was ill and needed money for medical care. I applied for student loan from local government and interest-free loan from PEACH. In retrospect, my college life has been formative and productive. I have not only learned knowledge in books, but also gained experience in different aspects such as dealing and communicating with people.

After graduation from college, I went to work at my alma mater, Yuanyang No. 1 High School. Since then, I have paid off my loans and helped my parents pay off the debt they had owed for building a house. Now, I have become a mother. My husband works in Mengzi city township government. I care about both families and try to do what I can to help them. I participate in every experience and activity of my children's growth. I feel profound simple happiness and satisfaction for my life.

I sincerely thank the people who have helped and supported me along the way. I am deeply grateful to PEACH for giving me so much love and helping me grow into what I am now. And I am glad that I did not give up.


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