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Seanan
Fong


Ga
Qiang’s
Story

Compiled
12/14/10


The
Little
Red
Scarf
Experience:
Ga
Qiang’s
Story


The
following
is
a
complete
compilation
of
what
I
wrote
about

the
experience
of
Ga
Qiang
as
a
beneficiary
of
the
Little
Red

Scarf.
Because
he
was
a
teenager,
I
did
not
feel
that
much
older

than
Ga
Qiang,
and
I
had
to
be
humbled
by
the
maturity
and

strength
that
he
showed
through
this
whole
experience.
I
hope

that
this
informs
you
a
little
bit
more
about
what
goes
on
here

at
the
Little
Red
Scarf.
–
Seanan
Fong,
Fall
2010
Student
Intern




Part
I:
Home
Visit
to
Ga
Qiang

October
5,
2010


Getting
to
Ga
Qiang's
Home


Bus
ride
longer
than
I
thought.
Initially,
still
in
apple

country.
Go
uphill,
windy.
Beautiful
view
again
‐‐
larger

mountains.
Caves
dug
into
the
soft
yellow
dirt
cliffs.
There

are
quite
some
trees
up
here,
surprisingly.
Deciduous,

pretty.
Terraces
remind
me
of
Macchu
Pichu
for
some

reason.


Finally
get
to
a
town
‐‐
I
think
it's
Xing
Feng
Township.
The

road
is
blocked
by
goats.
A
man
meets
us
‐‐
he
is
the
child's

father.
He
brings
us
to
a
car
that's
waiting,
and
asks
the

driver
to
drive
us
to
his
house
up
in
the
village.


We
all
get
in.
We
drive
uphill,
following
this
old
3‐wheeler

belching
smoke
and
going
really
slow.
It
is
super
bumpy.
A

bag
from
the
3‐wheeler
in
front
of
us
accidentally
drops
a

bag.
The
father
sticks
his
head
out
of
the
window
and
calls

out
to
them
over
and
over.
The
two
men
in
the
old
3‐
wheeler
can't
hear,
or
maybe
they're
thinking
that
the
father

is
yelling
at
them
for
being
too
slow.
Finally
when
we
pass

them,
tell
them
they
dropped
a
bag,
and
they
go
back
to
get

it.
Get
to
the
village,
Shiwa
Village.
Yunyun
fights
over
the

car
fee
with
the
father.


Like
always,
there
are
never
any
proper
introductions.


Filling
Out
the
Forms


Seanan
Fong

Ga
Qiang’s
Story

Compiled
12/14/10


It's
cool
and
fragrant
up
here.
Moist
trees.
Beautiful
delicate

yellow
flowers.
We're
on
a
cliffside,
and
we
walk
through
a

cool
path
in
a
steep
shadowed
crevice
in
the
hillisde.


We
get
to
the
house.
It
is
small
‐‐
only
three
rooms.
Like

most
Gansu
houses,
the
rooms
are
clustered
around
a

central
area.
Piles
of
corn
lie
drying
in
the
sun.
House
is

perched
on
a
hillside,
with
a
beautiful
vista
of
the
valley

below.


Ga
Qiang,
the
child,
is
currently
at
school.
We
need
to
wait

until
12:30
until
he
gets
off
for
lunch.
(it's
now
10:40).
We

sit
in
the
son
to
fill
out
forms
with
the
father
and
an
uncle

who
is
also
there.
Yunyun
begins
in
Putonghua,
and
then

lapses
into
dialect.
W
e
find
out:


They
discovered
Ga
Qiang
had
congenital
heart
disease
at
8

years
old,
when
they
took
him
to
the
hospital
for
a
long
cold

that
developed
severe
symptoms.
But
at
that
time
they
had

no
money
to
do
surgery,
so
treatment
has
been
delayed
7

years
‐‐
he
is
now
15.
He
can't
breathe
sometimes,
and
can't

walk
uphill
without
resting.
Has
lots
of
nosebleeds.
Ga
Qiang

needs
surgery
before
it
is
too
late.


The
household
has
four
people:
mother,
father,
and
two

sons.
In
total,
the
family
has
6
mu
of
land,
4
of
which
are

arable.
They
grow
millet,
corn,
potatoes,
and
"huma"
for
oil.

The
father
has
a
disease,
something
wrong
with
his
kidney.

He
can't
do
heavy
agricultural
work.
To
make
extra
money,

he
goes
out
to
find
work
in
the
off
season,
after
October

when
the
harvest
is
done.
When
goes
out
to
find
work,
he

finds
one‐day
odd
jobs
("little
labor")
at
30
yuan
per
day

when
it's
available.
But
that
barely
covers
his
housing
and

food
so
he
makes
very
little
useable
income.


Medically,
Ga
Qiang
has
a
PDA,
PH,
and
problems
with
the

bicuspid
and
tricuspid
valves.
(More
details
on
his
condition

in
earlier
posts
about
Ga
Qiang,
I
believe.)


There's
a
massive
maggot
peeking
out
of
a
hole
in
the
chair

I'm
sitting
in.
I
pick
it
out
and
it
squirms
in
the
ground.


In
total
the
family
makes
2000
yuan
of
income
per
year.

Yearly
medical
expenses,
however,
reach
up
to
2‐3,000

yuan.
They
have
20,000
yuan
in
savings
for
medical

expenses.
(A
surgery
costs
about
20,000
yuan.)
They
can't

Seanan
Fong

Ga
Qiang’s
Story

Compiled
12/14/10


borrow
from
the
bank:
In
order
to
borrow
from
the
bank,

they
need
to
mortgage
the
house.
But
the
bank
doesn't
want

this
house
‐‐
it
is
worth
too
little.
So
the
family's
situation
is

still
bad
‐‐
the
father
can't
go
out
to
find
work.
As
a
result,

they
borrow
money
from
lots
of
people
‐‐
relatives,
friends,

neighbors
in
the
village.


The
younger
brother
is
at
home
and
watches
us.
He's
10

years
old,
and
I
think
he's
pretty
intense.
He
watches
us
with

a
sort
of
maturity
that
I
find
a
little
surprising.
As
we
can
see

in
a
family
photo,
he's
almost
as
big
as
his
older
brother,
as

though
they're
half
a
year
apart.


Waiting
for
Ga
Qiang


The
forms
are
done.
I
go
to
the
toilet.
It
is
in
a
tiny
little

outhouse,
and
it
is
unfortunately
clogged.


I
ask
about
how
the
family
gets
water.
The
father
brings
me

to
the
neighborhood
well,
about
a
one
minute
walk
away

down
a
back
trail.
It's
10+
meters
deep.
You
bring
your
own

bucket,
and
then
you
attach
it
to
a
rope
that
descends
as
you

turn
a
wheel
at
the
surface.
It's
a
private
well,
but
the

owners
let
everybody
in
the
village
share
it
for
free.
The

water
is
safe
for
drinking
(after
boiling,
I
think)
‐‐
the
father

happily
describes
it
as
sweet.
Even
better,
the
temperature

of
the
water
is
always
perfec
t:
in
hot
weather,
the
water
is

cool,
and
in
cold
weather,
the
water
is
warm.
Luckily,
there

is
rarely
drought
in
this
region.
A
water
cellar,
if
desired,

would
cost
about
3,000
yuan.


Unlike
Yunyun's
hometown,
there
are
no
apple
orchards

here
‐‐
the
land
and
sunlight
doesn't
allow
it.
In
fact,
they've

tried
to
grow
apples,
but
they
are
tiny.
They
can
only
sell

them
for
.2
yuan.
By
contrast,
apples
from
Yunyun's

hometown
sell
for
3
yuan.


All
the
while,
I
notice
the
mom
is
busy
in
the
background

cooking
lunch.
Suddenly,
the
dad
comes
over
to
where
we're

sitting
in
one
of
the
rooms
and
gives
us
food.
Oh
no,
we're

not
hungry!
we
say,
and
inside
we
feel
bad
for
taking
their

food.
But
they
say
they
won't
eat
if
we
don't,
and
I
am
a
bit

hungry
...
Later
Yunyun
tells
me
they
would
have
been

insulted
if
we
didn't
eat,
but
that's
why
it
was
a
mistake
to

come
at
lunchtime.
In
any
case,
the
noodles
were
delicious!

Especially
since
I
was
starving.

Seanan
Fong

Ga
Qiang’s
Story

Compiled
12/14/10



More
small
chat
as
we
eat
and
wait
for
Ga
Qiang
to
come

home
from
school.
His
father
tells
us
that
Ga
Qiang's
clothes

are
already
too
small
for
the
younger
brother
to
wear.
In

contrast
to
Ga
Qiang,
the
brother
is
healthy
and
very
active
–

he's
already
onto
his
third
pair
of
cloth
shoes
for
the
year.
Ga

Qiang
is
only
on
his
first
pair.


The
brother
is
home
because
he
is
only
in
fifth
grade

(elementary),
so
he
has
7
days
off
for
National
Day
Holiday.

He
doesn't
want
to
go
back
to
school,
though.
Ga
Qiang,
on

the
other
hand,
is
very
good
at
studying.
He
is
nice
and
quiet.

He
only
gets
4
days
of
vacation
though.


Within
the
village,
the
father
says
that
they
don't
keep
Ga

Qiang's
sickness
a
secret
or
anything.


The
father
says
he
thought
I
was
16
or
17
years
old.
I'm

actually
19,
turning
20
in
a
few
days.


They
found
out
about
the
Little
Red
Scarf
from
the
township

government.


Ga
Qiang
Arrives


Ga
Qiang
finally
arrives!
He
is
tiny
for
15
years
old.
He
is
all

sweaty
on
his
head,
and
his
forehead
wrinkled.
The
tips
of

his
ears
are
blue.
Yunyun
takes
him
right
away
to
write
the

application
letter,
the
last
part
of
the
application
materials.

She
helps
him
dictate
and
he
writes
about
how
it
takes
him

35
minutes
to
walk
from
home
to
school,
when
normal
kids

take
25‐30
minutes.
Because
of
his
poor
health,
he
is
slower

and
must
take
constant
breaks.


I
can't
feel
his
pulse
when
I
hold
his
hand,
so
I
put
my
ear
to

his
chest
(I
forgot
to
bring
a
stethoscope).
I
hear
one
loud,

whooshing
beat
‐‐
not
the
concise
double
beat
of
a
normal

person.


Taking
Leave


It's
time
to
go.
The
father
insists
on
giving
us
dried
soybeans

to
munch
on
‐‐
he
hands
us
a
bag,
but
Yunyun
and
I

vigorously
protest.
We
let
him
fill
my
front
pocket
instead.


Seanan
Fong

Ga
Qiang’s
Story

Compiled
12/14/10


The
father
walks
us
down
to
the
village
center
(not
much,

just
more
dense
houses).
He
shows
us
the
local
apples
‐‐

about
the
size
of
golf
balls.
Definitely
not
marketable.
On
the

walk
down,
I
notice
the
warm
sun
and
cool
breeze
‐‐
I'm

definitely
reminded
of
California.


I
spot
these
dramatic
towers
on
the
tops
of
the
terraced

hillsides
surrounding
us.
The
father
tells
us
they
are

supposedly
sites
to
escape
from
the
Guomindang
during
the

civil
war.
There's
a
dramatic
hill
that
rises
before
us,
where

there's
this
fort
thing
that
looks
like
it
could
be
from
a

fantasy
epic.


The
father
tells
us
that
it's
2+
hours
to
next
township
over.
I

can't
stop
munching
on
the
soybeans
‐‐
so
delicious!
But
at

the
same
time
I
realize
my
mouth
kind
of
sore
for
some

reason.


We
got
onto
the
bus
back
to
Qing'an
to
visit
the
next

potential
Little
Red
Scarf
child
‐‐
8
yuan.
I
realize
we
forgot

to
ask
for
Ga
Qiang's
weight
and
height.
Yunyun
quickly

makes
a
phone
call
back
to
the
father.
Ga
Qiang
is
1.5
m
tall

and
30
kg.
Way
underweight
for
his
age.


Part
II:
At
the
Hospital


Welcome
to
the
Hospital

October
12,
2010


…
Next
we
visit
Ga
Qiang,
whose
family
immediately

recognizes
me.
They
are
such
a
wonderful
family
‐‐
always

smiling
and
so
kind
and
hospitable.
While
Yoyo
Jie
fills
out

some
paperwork
with
them,
I
took
a
look
at
the
color

ultrasound
they
just
had
done
this
morning.
This
is
my
best

translation
of
the
diagnosis.
Please
make
any
corrections:


先天性心脏病
1. 室间隔缺损(膜周)
2. 肺动脉瓣狭窄 (中度)
3. 左心扩大
4. 左室收缩功能正常
5.
彩色血流示:室水平左向右分流;肺动脉瓣上湍流;二尖
瓣、三尖瓣返流(少量)

Seanan
Fong

Ga
Qiang’s
Story

Compiled
12/14/10


Congenital
Heart
Disease

1.
Ventricular
septal
defect
(perimembraneous)

2.
Pulmonary
valve
stenosis
(moderate)

3.
Left
heart
expanded

4.
Left
ventricular
contractions
are
normal

5.
Color
ultrasound
bloodflow
shows:
Ventricular
left‐to‐
right
shunt;
turbulence
above
the
pulmonary
valve;
bicuspid

and
tricuspid
valve
insufficiency
(a
little)


I
am
not
a
medical
professional,
so
I
can't
really
evaluate
it,

but
it's
pretty
interesting
I
think.
From
just
a
visual,
you
can

see
how
the
tips
of
his
ears
and
fingers
are
bluish,
meaning

they
aren't
getting
enough
oxygen.
(Premedical
me:
Does

this
mean
that
he's
cyanotic?
But
he
shouldn't
be
cyanotic
if

he
has
a
left‐to‐right
shunt,
meaning
that
oxygenated
blood

from
the
left
ventricle
should
still
be
undiluted.
Maybe
his

cardiac
output
is
just
so
low.)


Financially,
from
what
I
gathered
the
family
has
already

made
a
deposit
of
15,000
yuan
already.
The
cost
of
the

surgery
isn't
certain
yet;
if
it
is
less
than
their
deposit
they

will
be
refunded.


But
Ga
Qiang
is
more
than
a
heart.
At
fourteen
years
old,
he

likes
listening
to
pop
music
‐‐
Jay
Chou!
(Me
too!)
He
likes

eating
noodles
and
potatoes,
and
his
favorite
sport
is

basketball.
His
favorite
color
is
blue.
And
he
for
sure
wants

to
be
a
policeman
when
he
grows
up.
Finally,
his
favorite

subject
in
school
is
English.
Awesome!
He
speaks
very
well

and
quickly
to
me
‐‐
apparently
he's
very
studious
at
school.

I
really
want
to
take
more
opportunities
to
get
to
know
Ga

Qiang
better:
he
seems
like
such
a
bright,
intelligent
young

man.


The
hospital
has
been
treating
them
well.
The
nurses
and

doctors
have
been
very
nice.
Ga
Qiang's
father
says
that
he

really
trusts
this
hospital
‐‐
it's
the
finances
that
are
the
big

worry.


Finding
Blood
for
Ga
Qiang

October
15,
2010


The
physical
examinations
are
now
done
and
Ga
Qiang
is

now
waiting
for
surgery,
though
the
surgery
is
still
not

scheduled.
Today
his
parents
are
worried
about
how
to
get

enough
blood
for
the
transfusions
during
the
surgery.
They

Seanan
Fong

Ga
Qiang’s
Story

Compiled
12/14/10


need
at
least
800
ml,
but
in
one
donation
his
father
will
only

be
able
to
give
400
ml.
Ga
Qiang's
mother
would
give
blood,

but
according
to
the
town
doctor
she
is
anemic,
so
she
can't

donate.
It
will
be
about
230
yuan
to
buy
the
blood.



Meanwhile,
as
you
can
see
in
the
picture
Ga
Qiang
is

enjoying
the
books
that
Little
Red
Scarf
dropped
off

yesterday.
Excellent!


I
forgot
to
write
about
the
day
before
yesterday:
I
got
a

chance
to
visit
Ga
Qiang
after
I
watched
the
surgeries.
I

wanted
to
see
how
his
English
was,
so
I
asked,
"What
is
your

favorite
color?"
He
responded,
"Red!"


I
also
got
a
chance
to
listen
to
his
heart
with
my
stethoscope.

A
huge
murmur
‐‐
there
is
no
distinct
heartbeat,
only
a

"whoosh,
whoosh,
whoosh"
sound
in
its
place.
It
must
be
a

pretty
serious
defect.


Meanwhile,
the
father,
as
I
have
said
before,
is
so
nice.
He

invited
me
to
visit
their
hometown
again,
if
I
ever
get
the

chance.
It's
four
hours
away,
but
I
honestly
would
love
to!


Part
III:
Recovery
from
Surgery


Not
the
Best
Day

October
21,
2010


…
A
few
rooms
over,
Ga
Qiang
is
just
being
transferred
out

from
the
ICU
to
the
normal
patient
room.
I
see
him
being

moved
and
propped
up
by
the
nurses.
He
looks

extraordinarily
tired,
and
he's
really
not
willing
to
make
eye

contact
with
me
when
I
come.
He
says
he's
not
in
any
pain,

but
I
think
he
must
be.
Or
else
he's
just
very
exhausted

having
just
out
of
the
ICU.


The
nurses
then
help
him
cough
up
mucus
from
his
throat,

then
they
check
his
blood
pressure
and
take
his

temperature.
They
inform
his
parents
on
what
to
be
aware

of
and
what
to
feed
him
(the
hospital
here
does
not
provide

any
food;
parents
bring
food
over).
Meanwhile,
Ga
Qiang
just

watches
passively,
not
in
any
mood
to
smile.


A
Brief
Visit

October
23,
2010:


Seanan
Fong

Ga
Qiang’s
Story

Compiled
12/14/10


I
only
have
a
brief
visit
with
Ga
Qiang
today,
as
I
accompany

Xing
Xing
on
her
way
out
of
the
hospital.
Today
he
at
least

has
enough
energy
to
smile.
The
past
few
days
his
side
has

hurt
a
lot,
but
it
doesn't
hurt
anymore,
because
the
tube

draining
his
heart
sac
has
been
taken
out.
The
doctor
just

did
a
checkup,
but
didn't
tell
the
family
anything.


Exit
Interview
with
Ga
Qiang

October
25,
2010:


Ga
Qiang
is
leaving
tomorrow,
and
it
looks
like
he's
awake

enough
to
answer
some
of
the
questions
I
have
about
his

experience
in
the
hospital.
Here's
my
reconstructed
and

translated
interview,
admittedly
heavily
edited
because
I

didn't
understand
everything
the
first
time
(especially
with

the
mother's
accent).


Me:
What's
the
biggest
difference
between
Lanzhou
and

your
home?

Ga
Qiang:
It's
busy.


Me:
What
were
your
thoughts
when
you
first
came
to
the

hospital?

Ga
Qiang:
I
thought
it
was
very
"闷",
stuffy.


Me:
Were
you
afraid
before
the
surgery?

Ga
Qiang:
Not
at
all!


Me:
Mom,
were
you
afraid?

Mother
of
Ga
Qiang:
I
was
really
worried
about
his
sickness,

but
now
that
his
sickness
is
already
cured,
I'm
very
relieved.

I
was
very
worried
during
the
surgery.


Me:
What
was
it
like
to
wake
up
in
the
ICU
after
the
surgery?

Ga
Qiang:
The
first
time
I
opened
my
eyes,
it
was
extremely

uncomfortable
around
my
mouth.
It
was
night
time.
I
don't

remember
much
from
my
time
the
ICU.
I
was
a
little

uncomfortable.
I
started
getting
more
comfortable
inside
the

ICU.


Me:
Mom,
were
you
worried
when
Ga
Qiang
was
in
the

hospital?

Mother
of
Ga
Qiang:
I
wasn't
worried
about
him
in
the
ICU

because
I
kenw
there
were
a
lot
of
nurses
taking
care
of
him.

Now
I
am
very
happy.


Seanan
Fong

Ga
Qiang’s
Story

Compiled
12/14/10


Me:
Are
you
going
to
do
anything
special
when
you
get

home?

Mother
of
Ga
Qiang:
Not
really.


Me:
When
are
you
going
to
return
to
school?

Ga
Qiang:
This
school
term
I
will
take
a
leave.
The
next

school
term
starts
in
December.


Me:
Did
you
stay
in
contact
with
your
little
brother
while

here
in
the
hospital?

Ga
Qiang:
I
kept
in
constant
contact
with
him.
We
text

messaged.
My
little
brother
was
also
very
concerned
about

my
sickness,
but
now
he
is
not
as
worried
because
it
is

cured.


Me:
Winter
is
here.
How
do
you
keep
warm
in
the
winter?

Ga
Qiang:
The
stove.
And
blankets,
and
thick
clothing.


Me:
What
what
work
is
there
to
do
in
the
winter?

Ga
Qiang:
In
the
winter
there's
not
much
work
to
do.
We

gather
hay
for
burning.


Me:
What
do
you
eat
in
the
winter?

Ga
Qiang:
Salty
vegetables.
We
grow
them
ourselves.


Afterwards
the
father
came
in
‐‐
he
bought
the
medicine
to

take
home.
I
assume
it's
the
same
triple
combo
as
I've

reported
on
before:
digoxin,
hydrochlorothiazide,
and

potassium
chloride.
They'll
be
leaving
soon,
so
I
say
goodbye

to
this
sincere
and
honest
and
wonderful
family
for
the
last

time.
I
wish
the
whole
family
the
best,
I
really
do.


Ga
Qiang’s
Quick
Facts


Nickname

尕强
Ga
Qiang


Birthday

July
11,
1996


Little
Red
Scarf
Number

#162


Project
Page

http://www.dongcunzu.org/project/452/


Seanan
Fong

Ga
Qiang’s
Story

Compiled
12/14/10


Date
of
Hospitalization


October
11,
2010


Type
of
Medical
Procedure

VSD,
PH


Project
Story


This
year
Ga
Qiang
is
14
years
old,
but
he's
the
same
height

as
his
10‐year‐old
brother.
Teachers
and
classmates
at

school
all
like
to
call
him
"little
girl"
because
he
is
the

shortest
in
his
class.
Ga
Qiang
was
eight
years
old
when
he

discovered
he
had
congenital
heart
disease.
Every
year
at

the
turn
of
the
season,
he
gets
a
severe
cold
and
continuous

infusions,
making
his
parents
very
worried
about
his
health.

Because
his
health
is
too
frail,
sometimes
there
will
be
times

when
he
gets
incessant
nosebleeds.
When
it's
the
most

severe,
his
mom
and
dad
will
call
120
(emergency)
to
bring

him
to
the
town
hospital
for
rescue.
Ga
Qiang
is
now
the
first

in
his
seventh
grade
class.
Because
he
studies
very
well,
his

teachers
and
and
classmates
all
like
him
very
much.
Ga

Qiang's
father
has
kidney
inflammation,
so
he
is
unable
to
do

physical
labor.
Every
year
he
needs
to
take
3000
yuan's

worth
of
medicine
‐‐
he
himself
is
reluctant
to
take
it

(because
it
is
so
expensive).
During
the
slack
season
he
goes

out
to
work
odd
jobs,
earning
30
yuan
a
day.
Ga
Qiang's

father
says
that
his
greatest
wish
is
to
have
his
son's
disease

cured,
in
hopes
that
his
son
can
have
a
new
life
and
a

healthier
body.