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My Beautiful Life at PEACH

03073 Li Xiao Mei
Translated by Yao Hsu

I come from a small village in Niujiaozhai Township of Yunnan Province. I joined PEACH in 2003. With the help of uncles and aunts from PEACH, I graduated from Yuanyang No.1 High School in 2008 and was admitted to Yunnan Transportation Vocational and Technical College, majoring in Human Resources Management. In 2011, I graduated from college and started working at PEACH since then. Every step of my life path is closely related to PEACH. PEACH sponsors me to get education and makes me become more mature. It also provides me a job opportunity and keeps improving myself. Because of PEACH, I have found a warm loving haven.

I was born in a small village of Yi ethnic group. More than ten years ago, due to poor economy and inconvenient transportation, people in the village were very conservative and preferred boys to girls. They felt that it was useless for girls to get education, especially the eldest one in the family. Usually they either dropped out of school early to work on the farm, or got married at the age of 15 or 16. Most of my classmates in elementary school were married when I was in junior high, and some didn't even complete the elementary school after they married. Now when I see them, I have hard time to communicate with them because we all think differently. It feels like we are not living in the same generation.

Based on my family's financial situation and being the eldest girl in the family, I should have dropped out of school early to help my family. But I am not tall and strong, so when I was in the fifth and sixth grades, I could only carry two buckets of grains on my back home by comparing to my fourth-grade brother who could carry five buckets on his back. After school, we often went out to the field to pick food for the pigs or got dry wood in the forest. Whenever we encountered snakes or toads, I trembled with fear. When it got busy on the field, I followed my mother and learned how to plant seedlings. Usually my feet were soaked in the water for two to three hours, so I had leg cramps all the time. Then my heels cracked and didn't get any better all year round. Because of all these reasons, my father knew that he couldn't rely on me to support the family by working on the field.

My mother is dexterous and very good at embroidering. She hopes that I can inherit her skill, so she taught me how to embroider since I was a child, and also encouraged me to sell the embroidery that I made by giving me one third of the profits. I was very happy that I could embroider two strings of flowers every week, which was sold for five Yuan each. Therefore, I got three Yuan in my pocket every week, but I couldn't spend it randomly. I had to save the money for book expenses later, so I wrapped it in cloth and hid it in the cracks of the dirt wall beside the bed. I remember one time when I went home on the weekend, I found the cloth bag was missing. I thought my brother stole it and I was so furious that I scolded my brother for the first time. But he kept on denying it and cried his heart out. We didn't even talk for two weeks. Finally I found out that my cloth bag was taken away by the mouse, and it bit the money and cloth bag into pieces. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed, but so far I haven't dared to admit to my brother that I was wrong about him.

In 2003, my third year of middle shool, PEACH offered funding to one student in each grade, under the condition of being the girl from the poverty, having good character and maintaining good grades. Even though I only ranked third in the class, the top two were both boys, so I was lucky to be sponsored by PEACH.

I still remembered that summer when I received the long-awaited acceptance letter from high school, I was supposed to be very happy, but instead I was sitting at the window alone, staring into the distance and crying because I knew that the expensive tuition fee was simply impossible to afford in the current family situation. My parents still got up early to work and came home late at night. They even worked harder and harder, but they've never complained about sending us to school. Maybe it's God's will, and the light of hope still shines upon me. I received a letter from PEACH, which informed me that they would sponsor my education. The whole family was very excited, and finally I could fulfill my dream without any worry.

But, things didn't go smoothly after all. During that winter when every household was preparing for the Chinese New Year, my father had a terrible accident. He fell and injured his leg while painting the wall. His right foot was badly injured earlier and was not yet cured. This time he broke the bone on his left thigh and needed a surgery. For a family struggling to make ends meet, it would be undoubtedly the toughest situation to face. My mother was busy out all day and tried to borrow the money, but in the end she was unable to get what she wanted. Finally, we decided to consult a Chinese medicine doctor, which would be a lot cheaper than the surgery. During the year of treatment, my father obviously lost some weight and my mother was no exception either. I felt so guilty and heartbroken every time when I thought of them from school. I should just quit school and go home to help them. Right at that tough moment , Aunt Zheng and Aunt Zhao came to me and brought me courage and hope. Uncle Peng also sent me a long letter of encouragement. With the help of PEACH, I regained my confidence and went on my journey bravely.

If fate can be changed, then PEACH gave me the opportunity to change my fate. PEACH's uncles and aunts, especially Aunt Zheng, Aunt Zhao, and Uncle Peng, are always there for me when I need them most. They contribute their time without asking for any return. They provide me help without any complaints and regrets. Through their love, encouragement, and guidance, I have grown out of low self-esteem, been brave to face any challenge and struggle, and learned the correct values of life. PEACH gave me not only material support, but more importantly, spiritual help.

In 2011, with the help of PEACH, I successfully graduated from university, and then worked at PEACH. My life has been totally turning around. I wasn't stuck at the remote countryside anymore. What is even more proud is that in 2014, with PEACH's support, I bought a two-bedroom house in Kunming. In 2015, I got married and lived a wonderful life together with my husband in the city.

Now my everyday life is very fulfilling. During the weekdays, I go to work at PEACH, which deals with the problems encountered by the students, encourages them to study without any worry, takes sick students to the doctor, and etc. On weekends, I exercise with my husband, go to the park or have dinner and chat with my girlfriends. Right now I am pretty satisfied with my life which is very simple, pleasant, and healthy. And thanks to PEACH for giving me a better future!

Every time when I see the children at summer camps, winter camps or home visits, it is like seeing myself more than ten years ago. I was used to be a girl with low self-esteem, sentimentality, and self-isolation. I was so fragile that I couldn't handle any harsh comments, exam failures, and life struggles. Going to the college seemed like an impossible dream to me and I couldn't even imagine that I would accomplish that much today. It was PEACH who brought me love, courage, and hope. It let me become more persevering, fulfill my dream, and have a happy life!


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