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Reflections from Chinese HIV/AIDS Volunteer

October 12, 2006

Ms. Xingyuan Zhang, a volunteer who works with Zhecheng Succor (HIV/AIDS) Society, in Henan, China, shares this letter about her experience there.

On our National Day vacation, I sat at home and was recalling my summer vacation.  My heart is heavy and a feeling from the bottom of my heart urges me to write this letter to you.

During summer vacation, I participated in the children's summer training camp activity as a volunteer.  Their story moved me deeply.  Volunteering with them helped me understand the children who live on the edge of society and the tenacious will they have. Perhaps on the surface it looked like I was helping them, but in the essence, I knew, they gave to me far more than I gave them. Their spirits showed me that no matter what difficulties we encounter, we should face them optimistically and bravely.

At the same time, each participant helped me understand the significant sufferings by illness the poverty-stricken families of the children experience.  I was moved to show loving concern.  The work I did made me feel gratified and proud, that I can do something for them. While this work meant I could not spend the summer with my friends, I will never regret it, because, working together with the association's staff, I helped these honorable children.  I felt my own soul was filled. Sometimes, in our mind, this work is just a very small matter, but it helps these children be happy for a long time.  I like seeing the smiling faces from the bottom of their hearts and their laughter makes the environment seem brighter.

I still remember during the summer training camp, one child lost 1 Yuan and she worried for a long time.  Her face was full of anxiety, so I put 1 Yuan under her seat, then helped she to find it. When I told her that I found her money, I saw her smiling and the brightness returned to her face.  I also felt her joy.

As I worked for the association moved me to give and be more.  Working with the children, a sentence or an action often moved me emotionally.  For instance, in the summer training camp we gave each child a towel, but two children shared a towel.  I asked them why they only used one towel, and they told me, "My mother's towel was rotten and she cannot use it any more, we use one towel and gave the other towel to my mother."  Listening to them tell me this, I could not say a word, I did not know how to say my feelings.  I was so moved by their action.

Many things happened like this.  I still remember the days I worked with the staff to give the orphaned children living expenses.  Each time we visited a family, the child's guardian would cry.  For us, it was not a lot of money, but for them it was significant.

Before I worked with the HIV/AIDS association, I always thought their work was very difficult, working no matter if the weather is good or bad.  They go to the countryside to give aid, but also are in contact with so many people who are infected with HIV/AIDS. From the first time I worked with the association's staff and went to the countryside to give the money to the guardian's of the orphaned children, I finally understood why the association's staff always does their job with vigor and joy.  From the bottom of our hearts, we offered up our love to them.  I am grateful to the association's staff and admire them.  Compared with them, what I did was a small thing.

Another volunteer, who came from Nanjing, also came here to participate in the summer activities.  She was a compassionate young lady.  When she went to visit the families, she met 14-year-old Jinhua, whose hands were callused and blistered from hard work to make a living for her family.  The volunteer decided to work with Jinhua at the kiln factory.  When we arrived there, our tears would not stop.  The work is heavy and the workers here were all aduts.  Our hearts broke at seeing Jinhua, just 14 years old, bearing this heavy work.  We worked with her for just one hour, and we got blisters on our hands.  We could not imagine how Jinhua worked here. 

We live in a rich environment, shouldn't we lend a hand to help and comfort others?  If everyone offered love, the world would become a wonderful world.  Maybe now all I can do is make a small contribution, but I will do my best to study hard and hope that I can help the children in the future.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to come to America to study.  This opportunity will help me gain a real understanding of the needs of children around the world.

Yours sincerely:
Zhang Xinyuan (Candy)



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