For as long as I can remember, I have lived at the Xiamen Social Welfare Institution.
The staff here gave me my name, QianRu. My childhood has not been about beautiful toys or clothes. All the children like me live together, sharing the same food and toys and clothes. Our parents are the staff who take care of us. When I went to public school and saw my classmates’ parents pick them up and take them to travel during vacation, I felt sad and lonely about being an orphan for the first time. I realized that when I was a child my parents did not want me. Why did they abandon me even though I am healthy? The word “orphan” was so heavy for me to carry.
When QianRu was in junior high, she came very close to being adopted, but for many reasons, the adoption did not go through. QianRu had to stay in the institution while many of her good friends were adopted one after another. She cried for many days and spent days alone in her room. She was not interested in anything, even basketball, which had always been her favorite. All the ayis and her friends stood by her and gave her encouragement. Gradually, time diluted her sorrow.
Through the Youth Services program, QianRu started taking Latin Dance lessons. At the first class, QianRu was intimidated by the other girls in the class, all wearing prettier clothes than she and most having had dance lessons before–she was so nervous that her face was red like an apple. When the bell rang, QianRu was the first one to rush out of the classroom. But QianRu’s dance teacher praised her and told her she had potential and that praise gave her a lot of energy and encouragement. She was not that shy from then on and was active during class. She also made friends with other girls.
I often tell QianRu that she is no different from other girls. She is a beautiful and clever 16 year old–she just needs to be more confident. She has made big progress in dancing and even won the prize for the new star of Latin dance. She has made good friends with several girls in her dance class and often invites them to the institution or goes to their homes–she is proud to have friends who are not from the institution. Now much more confident, QianRu has learned that though there is much bitterness and many difficulties in life everyone needs to work hard to be successful and it is not easy for anyone to grow up. She is ready to face the road ahead of her.