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Yuanyang... again in my dreams -- by Ingrid Liu
Yuanyang... again in my dreams
After weeks of temperature in the high 30C, I left Shanghai and boarded the plane to Kunming. From there, to Yuanyang, where I last visited seven year ago. The flight was filled with tourists. With excitement, they discussed their final destinations: Xishuanbanna, Shangrila, and the terraced rice paddies recently approved as world heritage site by UNESCO. I also overheard some parents trying to introduce to their blessed children the wonderful features of Yunnan. From the landing gate, I walked nearly a mile long ornately decorated corridor with beautiful features comparable to Shanghai's Pudong Airport. When I finally exited the Chang-Shui Airport, blue sky and white clouds rarely seen elsewhere in China awaited me. I ask Yunnan: when will you not need people like me to ever return again?
Like seven years ago, Yuanyang First High School is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges shrouded in clouds. The only difference is that, inside the classroom, a new group of children who still need support from the Peach Foundation replaced the old one. Like seven years ago, these children's eyes are still shy and timid; their clothing still old and broken; their school work still fallen behind; their social skills still awkward; and their autobiography still drains my tears, word by word. Like seven years ago, I have exhausted my words of comfort, as well as effort of encouragement, for these children. Without the slightest reservation, I easily offered my love to each orphan in my class. But, at the end of the summer camp, to receive their hugs or brief notes of appreciation in return, I broke down so frailly. Like seven years ago, when the camp ended, the feeling that I shall not be able to "turn the world around" utterly depressed me. In the past few years, I dared not ask, intervene, discuss, or even think about the operations of the Peach Foundation out of guilt over my own powerlessness. Facing the increasingly bustling streets and the newly-renovated hotel in which I stayed, I ask Yuanyang: when will you not need people like me to ever return again?
Mr. Ma Xiang-Bo, who lived to 106 years old, once said: "I am a dog. I barked for a hundred years, and I still could not wake China up." Today, China is finally awakened. I ask my beloved China: when will you get properly dressed? When will you not need people like me to ever return again?
There are many people I want to thank: Mr. S. P. Tao, who offered dozens of college scholarships every year for Peach; my confidant Teresa, who helped set up the medical fund program at Peach; Mr. Steve Gao, at last minute and with a single stroke, sent all 300 orphans to this year's summer camp; my other volunteer comrades who, throughout the whole summer camp and, especially when I was deeply stressed, reminded me to do the best I can, and to help one child at a time. Above all, my special tribute to those "children" Peach had supported during the earlier years. Some of them have become pillars of Peach Foundation's daily operation. Some of them have grown to prominence in their respective professions, and take time to return to this year's summer camp to recount their arduous past in the hope of inspiring their younger Peach siblings. With delight, I watched the torch being passed on. I ask Peach: when will you not need people like me to ever return again?
By Ingrid Liu
July 20, 2013
Yuanyang, Yunnan, China