God is Love

God is Love

Shuangmiao Village, Szhecheng County, Henan Province, China
Report on Visit by Reverend Xiaoling Zhu
Global Ministries East Asia/Pacific Area Executive

In early December of 2004, I visited Szhecheng County, Henan Province, in China which is an area highly affected by HIV/AIDS along with Reverend Mike Schuenemeyer, Executive of Health and Wholeness Advocacy program of Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ. We were accompanied by three professors and a graduate student from the Medical School at the Beijing University. This was my third time to visit the area.

{mosimage}The trip had four goals:

To obtain information about 50 children belonging to HIV/AIDS infected families for the Global Ministries Child Sponsorship Program, which is supporting them.

To visit the area with medical school professors and a student to determine whether a medical team can be sent to the area to help HIV/AIDS farmers.

To network with the local people to establish self-sustaining projects in the area.

To meet with China’s equivalence of the Center of Disease Control in order to get more information about HIV/AIDS in China.

We took an evening train from Beijing on December 5, 2004, and arrived in Szhecheng County, Henan Province the next morning. After breakfast, we visited the county hospital where we saw many HIV/AIDS patients. We encountered a young girl, about ten years old who was in her last stage of sickness and I vividly remember her crying out, “I want to go back to school.” I then encouraged Mr. Zhang, leader of Szhecheng Succor HIV/AIDS Society, our partner NGO, to have teachers available to the young girl at the hospital so that her last wishes could be fulfilled. I then asked her if I could take a picture with her to which she replied, “Keyi (It’s fine with me).” This event made me reflect upon the disparities between U.S and China in terms of medical treatments available to children.

{mosimage}There are also several schools in this area in which Global Ministries has identified 50 children from families affected by HIV/AIDS who will receive financial support from the Child Sponsorship Program. We proceeded to collect photos and the required forms for these children during our trip. So far, $7,000 has been sent to the society in two disbursements. USD $4,000 was sent in the first quarter of 2005 to assist the 50 children and USD $3,000 had been sent to help the society get started.

Cheng Liu Elementary School, which has approximately 400 students, one third of whom come from HIV/AIDS infected families, is one of the best schools in terms of academic standards in the area. However, the physical condition of the building is abysmal. The windows have no glass, with those facing the north being closed totally while the windows in the south are missing glass panes. Even after my return to the U.S, I could not stop dreaming about these photos of the school I took. USD $90,000 is needed to rebuild this school. The Amity Foundation, one of our Global Ministries partners in China, is calling for support for the project. They plan to start the project in March 2005 and will have it completed in September 2005, if they have enough funds.

{mosimage}Other possible ideas for projects in the area include providing small loans to families living with HIV/AIDS. Farmers, for example, can borrow USD $50 and return it within three months. They use the loan for the feeding of their livestock and then by selling them they can make a profit. These local HIV/AIDS families also support themselves financially by making beautiful art using wheat straw.

After we returned to Beijing, my colleague Mike Schuenemeyer, conducted a workshop on American experiences in supporting those affected with HIV/AIDS for the students in Medical School at the Beijing University Medical School.

Throughout this trip, I could not help but notice the multitude of HIV/AIDS victims with heart-wrenching stories of struggle and survival, suffering children, faces filled with sorrow, and the need for more resourceful and effective projects. God is Love. Through all of these projects, people in suffering, in sickness, and in poor are experiencing God’s love.