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PEACH opened a window for me

02001 Hong Yan Hua
Translated by Nie Xu Min

There are three children in my family, my eldest sister, my second sister and I. I am in seventh grade. My second sister is in ninth grade and my eldest sister is in eleventh grade. The tuition for each middle school student is four or five hundred yuan per semester, eight or nine hundred yuan for each high school student. My father and mother have half acre (three mu) farm land. They work from dawn to dusk every day, but they still cannot manage to save enough to cover our tuition and daily living expenses for one school year. At the beginning of each school year, my parents would try to scrape together enough for my eldest sister’s tuition. My second sister would get the leftover loose change. I would end up with nothing. I have always hoped that my parents would have some left to pay for my tuition. But they have exhausted all they have after paying my second sister’s tuition. They do not even keep a single penny for their own living expense. I feel very sad, but dare not tell my parents. I can only pretend to be strong and go to school. However, I do envy my classmates so much seeing them getting their new book at the beginning of the school year.

What impresses me and makes me most grateful is my mother's thrift. She saves every cent. Every time she buys vegetables, she always buys those of lowest quality. We often go for a month without eating meat. We rarely get new clothes. When we do, my mother always buys clothes of much larger size. When asked why, she replies that children grow fast, clothes of right size would not fit in one or two years, but clothes of larger size can last for several years. As a result, my shoes are either much too big, like a boat, or much too old, with toes sticking out at the front. Unfit clothes and shoes and socks make me too shy to play with other children, being afraid of being laughed at. I always stay alone in the corner and watch other children play games happily. I don't like this very much.

After school, I would carry a bamboo basket on my back and gather grass with my friends. We would play games and play house in the field. Mud is our toy, grass field is our paradise. We are the happiest, in spite of our ragged clothes.

When I grow a bit older, I can see that other children wear beautiful clothes and have spending money for snacks and pretty hair bands. I wish that my mother could give me some pocket change to buy a pair of hair bands that I like. I wish that my mother could take our three sisters out to buy a set of beautiful clothes. But this wish cannot be fulfilled for a long time, I feel more and more inferior to others.

In the third year of middle school, PEACH found me. I filled out a form and became first PEACH kid. This is the first of many "firsts" that would happen in my life. These “firsts” have completely changed me, helping once introverted me become more and more outgoing and cheerful. When I was in junior high school, I sometimes blamed my parents for the fact that I had to attend junior high school in a small town instead of a school in the county seat. However, after I met PEACH, I felt much better and relieved. If I had gone to the county seat to study, I would have missed PEACH. "God closes a door, but also opens the window to PEACH”. There would be so many “firsts” that PEACH brought into my life.

The first time I wrote to America. My sponsor wrote me a long letter of encouragement. I was nervous and didn't know how to reply. I discussed with my father for a long time and didn't know how to address my sponsor. Finally, without knowing any better, I just put "Hello, Mr. Chen" in the letter and sent it. I got a letter back, and it is from a “big sister"! I felt so ridiculous. Fortunately, big sister Chen doesn't mind.

The first time to know an overseas Chinese. My sponsor Chen Weijun came to visit me from America. She was a beautiful young lady, gentle and kind. But I was too shy to say a word. I had many questions that I wanted to ask, but I faltered and could not say anything. Sister Chen gave me a book titled "Refuse Peking University". I was curious why anybody would refuse Peking University. After reading the book, I understood what sister Chen wanted to tell me - don't put too much pressure on yourself in study, just try your best. One does not need to go to a famous university. An university is the best if it suits you best. Sister Chen later wrote that I was too introverted to express myself when we first met. Now, I'm the most outgoing one among my friend's. I am not surprised at this change at all. I understand that with the love and care of my parents and the encouragement and support of uncles and aunts in PEACH, I can also have a happy life.

The first time to receive gifts. On TV, children will receive many beautiful gifts on their birthday, and on holidays. In the winter of 2002, I received my first gifts from PEACH - a set of purple and red warm clothes, a pair of yellow socks, a striped scarf and a pair of black and red gloves. Both surprised and pleased, I always keep these warm clothes. Every winter, I will take out the clothes I received ten years ago and put them to experience the warmth from PEACH again.

The first time to receive remittance. The mail room informed me that there was an remittance slip for me. I couldn't immediately comprehend who would send me the remittance. I was surprised and moved when I learned that it was PEACH.

The first summer camp. In the summer of 2006, my first year in college, some PEACH kids and I went to Yangbi No.1 High School to attend the summer camp. We have prepared comfortable bedding, delicious food, excellent movies, English speaking teachers. It was a completely new and unforgettable experience. During the camp, I get to stand on the stage and speak to the whole class.

First time to get salary. After I graduated from university in 2009, I sent my resume to PEACH. I have worked at PEACH even since. Under the guidance of aunt Jeng and aunt Zhao, I have been consistently improving. My writing is more and more fluent and even beautiful; my judgments and decisions are getting better and better. I learn English. I read a book every month and take reading notes. Every day I reflect on myself. Every day I remind myself that I should handle work as if I am the boss.

Starting from middle school, to college entrance examination and six years of work after graduation, PEACH has helped me all the way. Now, I have my own home in Kunming. My parents know that everything is going well for me. They always tell me to work hard. In October 2014, I took my mother to Beijing for a visit. My mother usually gets car-sick. But she didn't even feel dizzy during several hours of flight. She cried from excitement after visiting Tiananmen Square and paying respect to Chairman Mao. She could not believe that she could come to Beijing to visit the greatest person in China. I am so happy that I can help my parents realize their wishes. Working for PEACH, my colleagues and I send grants, do home visits, organize summer and winter camps, donate books, bedding and clothes, and write letters to the younger PEACH kids. PEACH has helped me. I feel so honored and proud to work at PEACH to help other children.

Every time I receive letters from PEACH kids, they resonate so much. Some of the letter read, "PEACH has opened a new world for me. I will no longer be afraid. I will no longer be lonely. With the nourishment of love, I will be happy." Other letters read, "After joining PEACH, I have been transformed. The burden of my father and mother are reduced. And I feel so much relieved!”

PEACH accompany PEACH kids for their life journey. It brings smile, happiness, encouragement, love to so many of them. I feel so proud to be the first PEACH kid and a member of PEACH!

 

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