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A little known fact of life in China came to light when the diary of a 14-year-old peasant girl made it from a remote town in rural China made it to the bestseller lists in France. The book, which has now been published in 16 countries around the world, tells the story of a young girl who is desperate to stay in school, despite the problem of sky-high school fees, which her parents can not afford.


9 février 2002 6 09 /02 /février /2002 00:00
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Letter 5 - 26 February 2002

Some news ! On Monday we received a letter from Ma Yan. She has received our first payment, and she thanks all those who decided to help her. This is her letter :
« Dear Uncles and Aunts :
How are you ? [in English, though the rest of her letter is in Chinese]. I received your letter on 17 February 2002. That day my father had gone to town for the market and he found the letter at the post office. He opened it right away, but there were a few characters he couldn’t recognise. Back at home he asked me to read it. When I had finished the reading, I don’t know why, but I broke out in a sweat, as if all my strength had gone...Maybe it was because I was just too moved, too, too happy.
Father said, when he had finished reading the letter, that he no longer knew if he was walking on earth or in the sky, because he felt as if his body was floating. Mother added, ‘Finally, the heavens have opened their eyes. I didn’t cry for no reason while I was up in the mountains. My tears, then, were the result of pain and sadness. Now, they come from joy. I wish you a very good year and convey all my gratitude.’
After reading your letter, I really understood what joy means, and what friendship and the meaning of life are in this world. I thank all the people who have set out to help me. I am thrilled that young French people want to be my friends. I would like to write to them, phone them immediately, but I have neither their address nor phone numbers. Then, too, they don’t speak Chinese. I hope that you’ll give them my address : I would like to be their friend, their best friend. I say ‘Thank You’ [in English] to all of them.
You said that you could help other children from families in need. I’m so very, very pleased at that. For me, my problems are now behind me. Let them, too, complete their schooling and fulfill their dreams. All my thanks.
Soon I’m going back to school. I shall work very hard not to disappoint all your expectations. (The money you sent me has safely arrived.)
I wish you great success in this year of the horse.
Ma Yan, 19 February 2002 »

And moreover, my report on Ma Yan was published in the Italian magazine « Internazionale », and I have already received four emails from Italians who also want to show solidarity with Ma Yan and children of her village who can’t go to school. Two more French people have also written to me wanting to become part of our initiative. As I told you, I will make a trip to the village shortly - from 8 to 12 March - to make support available to more children in the village, and I will inform you about this when I am back.
Finally, a Parisian publisher has contacted me, who would like to publish the entire diary and my accompanying report. We are still in discussions about this, but if it works out, then it would doubtless give Ma Yan’s family a real chance to escape from their present misery forever.
So, we have had some good news. But even so, we are still at the beginning...
Best wishes
Pierre Haski

Beijing, feb. 26, 2002



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