(As told by Margarete Zhang)
A small woman greeted us with a smile. She was one of the mothers in our Family Strengthening Program, Sister Huang. Her son, XiaoHang, is 13 years old and has severe Cerebral Palsy.
She shyly accepted the bouquet of Mother’s Day flowers we handed her, and then tightly clutched our hands and said oh-so-sincerely: “You have changed my life.”
We sat in their damp and dark one-bedroom apartment and listened to her share her story. When her son XiaoHang was 2 years old, he still couldn’t speak or lift his head. They took him to the hospital and he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. As he grew up, he needed more and more treatment, but it was so expensive. By the time he was 11, they had no money left and he stopped going to therapy completely. Sister Huang would massage his muscles all by herself at home, before and after work. He couldn’t go to school because of his disability, so he would stay home alone every day while his parents were working.
She paused in her story, then said, “Once, I did an intolerable thing…” Their family was struggling in so many ways, so she quietly gave up her son to another family and visited him when she could. But when XiaoHang’s father found out, he rushed over to see his son and found him tied up to a bed and sleeping. He came home sobbing and telling his wife that he had failed as a father. Then XiaoHang’s big brother heard about this, and he came rushing back from the other city where he lived and worked. Together, Xiaohang’s father and brother rescued him and brought him back home.
Then a few months ago, Sister Huang heard about Hope Station, how we support children with disabilities in orphanages and vulnerable families. She signed up to receive support services from us and was soon matched with a couple sponsors in America. Now, her son receives therapy every single week. Her family gets access to educational resources and classes on special needs issues. And just as importantly, she is not alone anymore. Hope Station staff are standing with her as she fights for the best for her child.
We walked through the neighborhood together, and she proudly raised the flowers in her hand to show them off to her neighbors: “Look! I got flowers, too!” Maybe, she had never received flowers from anyone before.
At the end of the visit, Sister Huang insisted on treating us for lunch: “I don’t have much money, but you all put so much effort into helping us I’d like to treat you to a small bowl of noodles.” We declined of course, knowing that one bowl of noodles might cost her an entire day’s pay. We sat in silence on the way home, thinking back over this family’s situation, so deeply proud to be a part of this life-transforming work.
There are more families like XiaoHang’s, who are still waiting for sponsors so they can get access to the support they desperately need. Would you consider sponsoring one of these families at just $35 a month? Click here to learn more or start sponsoring today.