Zhen Zhen, front and center with glasses
Dear Global Giving Friends,
PATS has been fortunate to have a steady stream of dedicated volunteers willing to travel to Anhui, China to work with the children in the program. In December 2015 and January 2016 Yi Wang, a Hampshire College student, traveled to Fuyang, China to work with PATS children. Yi spent a lot of time with each child, took many pictures, taught them arts and crafts, celebrated the New Year, visited with many of their families, and listened to stories about their lives. Yi has written the update below about one of the children she met, Zhenzhen, who is 10 years old, and in 5th grade. We profiled ZhenZhen in a previous update almost a year ago and are excited to let you know how she is doing today. As you may remember, ZhenZhen loves to dance and that is what she most looks forward to when she comes to PATS activities during the weekend.
From Yi Wang, PATS Volunteer
ZhenZhen: A love of dancing and a compassionate heart
“Zhenzhen is a sweet 10-year-old girl. She listened to me very carefully whenever I spoke, and she made me feel respected. Probably due to her good manners, many volunteers speak very highly of her, from her easygoing personality to her strong desire to learn. It is well known that Zhenzhen is a talented dancer. She is such a natural when it comes to dance and is so good at improvising and keeping rhythm. In her daily life, she is often introverted and quiet and acts as a considerate listener, sitting for long periods of time very attentive and patient. Yet on the stage, dancing is her trigger to become a completely different person. Her eyes shine whenever she speaks of it, and her hands tap on her lap when she hears familiar music. I have no doubt in her to make the whole world into her ballroom in the future.
Dancing is something that can transport ZhenZhen to a place where she can be carefree and not worry about the challenges she faces on a daily basis as a result of her HIV status. Someone told a parent of one of her classmates about Zhenzhen’s HIV status last week and word quickly got out that she was HIV-positive. Some boys in her class laughed at her and called her names. Yet she seems to be able to deal with this matter in a very mature way despite her young age. She explained that she is very lucky to have Yue and Zihao (two other PATS kids who live with her in the House of Love) in the same class with her, so they can support each other in the face of teasing and ever present stigma. She is very strong and brave.
“When I heard of this teasing I felt very sorry and asked her how I can help her. Surprisingly, she gave me a big smile and comforted me instead. You can imagine how impressed I am by this little girl. The strength and spirit she has in her body to dance is matched by the strength and spirit in her heart to show compassion to others, even those who are unkind to her. The compassion she showed for other people is what I needed to learn from her. For me, knowing Zhenzhen is such a rewarding experience which helps me with my own self-discovery. Zhenzhen is a great teacher of mine, and I’m so lucky to know her.”
ZhenZhen with new headbands brought by Wang Yi