Hefei Childrens Welfare Center
Hefei, Anhui Province, China

"A Visit To A Village Near Hefei"

by Mrs. Yannie Fan
(Edited by Mary Lynn Hodshire)

2000 July 22
Mrs. Yannie FanI visited a small village on the periphery of Hefei.  This village has a long tradition of adoption and foster children.  My younger sister YanYan accompanied me since this is the village where her sister-in-law was adopted 53 years before.  This sister-in-law, whom YanYan calls Second Big Sister, now runs a small restaurant in downtown Hefei.  Second Big Sister travels back and forth between the city and this village where her mother and five older brothers are living.
The second reason that I chose to visit this village is that there are nearly two dozen children from the Hefei orphanage in foster homes in the village.  The orphanage has set up a clinic here that is in charge of the children's medical check ups and routine medical care.  The clinic also plays a social service agency role in administering the foster care system and approving families as foster parents. The manager of the clinic is Dr. Qian.
I have chosen to write the description of my visit as if it were a screen play.
Scene 1. At a bus stop.
YanYan is searching for the name of the stop among eight different bus signs. It is over 38 degrees C or 100.4 degrees F.  She is working her jaw as she repeats the name of the stop she is looking for.  With one hand holding a glass of tea and the other shading her eyes, she finally decides that we need to get on Bus #26 to the village.
Scene 2. On the bus.
YanYan gets carsick easily but, thankfully, not this time.  We are on our way to a small, quaint Village.  Most of the passengers on the bus are farmers on their way home after selling their fresh vegetables in Hefei that morning.  Some of the farmers are carrying farm tools; others have empty baskets and shoulder poles.
Two women get on the bus with a large shallow bamboo basket with a box holding about a hundred ducklings.  The little ducklings are huddling together like little yellow puffs singing "jijijiji" all the way.  The ducklings' song enlivens the bus. Most of the people on the bus are silent; it is too hot for anyone to talk.
Scene 3. On the way to the village.
The asphalt road is getting narrower, dustier and bumpier. Rice fields stretch for miles on both sides of the road.  Twenty minutes later we arrived at our destination.  Aunt Yang, Second Big Sister's mother is standing in front of her house waiting for us.  The bus stop is only about two hundred yards from Aunt Yang's house.
Scene 4. A small shop with out any counters or shelves.
YanYan is buying a bottle of rice liquor as a gift for Aunt Yang.  YanYan and Aunt Yang have met before at Second Big Sister's House but this is the first time that YanYan has visited Aunt Yang's home.  It is the custom to bring a gift when visiting someone's home for the first time.
Aunt Yang comes to the small shop and stops YanYan from buying the liquor.  She tells her firmly that religious people do not drink.  Aunt Yang is a Christian.  She repeats that "people worshiping a religion do not drink." Holding her grandson in one hand, she grabs the bottles and puts them back.
Both Aunt Yang and her grandson are barefooted.  Aunt Yang is short and stout.  Her face is brown and healthy.  Now that she has stopped her guests from spending any money on her she asks whether we have had any breakfast.

The story goes on...

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