The Leprosy Project is grateful to have the volunteers working in the villages. The village children benefited and it gave the volunteers an opportunity to learn firsthand about leprosy and the people in the villages. We hope this will be one more way to help end the stigma faced by the people in the villages we serve.
The Most Beautiful Holidays - Xihe Primary School
July 11, 2013 was the first time that I traveled without my family. This is when I began my trip as volunteer teacher in Xihe Village of Jinyang County in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. I felt exceptionally good because there was hope when I stepped on to the train bound for Xichang City. I have gained a lot; most importantly I met new friends and students during my time there.
Zhao Jie - The most supportive person and the one to whom I need to express my gratitude.
Like most of the others, at the very beginning I was feeling a bit hesitant to teach in Xihe Village, Jinyang since it is well-known for difficult mountain paths and it is a leprosy rehab village. I finally accepted the challenge and when I told Zhao Jie he immediately joined the program with me. I personally have lots of shortcomings; picking on others is definitely one of them. I kept picking on him on the way to the village, but he never showed any dissatisfaction with me. Zhao Jie got along very well with everyone in the village; he taught and played ball games with children. Everyone liked him very much.
We had plans for doing household visits, and that was the most tiring duty for me. We had to walk more than half an hour on a rocky mountain path just to visit one family. Zhao Jie never complained and finished all the household visits. During the visits we met a boy whose mother had recently passed away. No one was taking good care of him. He was wearing ragged clothes and shoes. Zhao Jie walked hours to the nearest town to buy the boy new clothes and shoes. Zhao not only knew how to take care of others but he was also a good cook. He made me feel that I no longer needed to worry about anything.
Lanze Biga - The most moving student
Lanze Biga was the first student that we met on the way to Xihe Village. We met him as we passed through another village on the way to Xihe. To subsidize his family's income, Lanze Biga walks three hours to buy snacks to resell in his village. He is 13 years old, but only a grade 3 student.
Lanze is a courageous and talkative boy, who called me "little chub" a nickname I was not happy with. When I found out that most of the village children had only two meals a day and potatoes were their staple food I realized the reason all the villagers were so thin; and of course I am a "chub" compared to them. The heartbreaking thing was that most of the children in the village are suffering from malnutrition. The children were polite and willing to share. One day we went fishing. One of the children dropped his shoes in the river; and of course a pair of shoes means a lot to the child. Lanze took off his shoes right away and offered them to the child.
These village children are smaller than children of same age group in towns and cities; though their appearance is smaller, their hearts and minds are much bigger. They know the joy of sharing. They often picked flowers and grilled corn for us when we were in the village. The day finally came when we had to leave the village. Lanze cried for a long time. We still keep in contact by phone, and Lanze is now the team leader in the class, and he has been practicing writing. He hopes that we can visit the village again soon.
I am not writing this to tell people that we have been doing something special, but because I want to let everyone know that there are still people and children in need of help and concern, and to let people know that leprosy is not scary. It is curable and totally under control nowadays. I would like to thank the Leprosy Project for letting me have such an opportunity that I could teach and live in the village. Thank everyone from The Leprosy Project, you are indeed the most beautiful people in the world.