Peng Qinglan’s Road Home   (Part 1)

WRIC’s Yao Cheng             All photos by WRIC                November 18,2010


On November 16th, I received an email forwarded by one of our volunteers. It was written by a woman who was abducted as a girl. “Original name: Peng Qinglan. Born September 12th, 1979. Father: Peng Guanglin. Mother: Wang Xinmei. A brother named Xiaogui. Two sisters. At that time, because my father worked at a factory, he sent me for keeping at the house of our neighbor whose husband and son were co-workers of my father’s. During summer break in June, 1988, I went swimming with the neighbor’s daughter. The two of us were kidnapped together.


“I vaguely remember that I lived in Liuzhiping Village. I was in second grade then. The elementary school was facing my house, several rice paddies away. I also remember that there were many fireworks workshops in the village. Other than that, I couldn’t remember much more information.”


I transferred the email to our Huijiawang (Reunion Web) volunteer in Guiyang, Mr. Chen Fuyu. Mr. Chen was also a parent searching for his son, who had disappeared for seven years. During these years, he was not only looking for his own son, but also became the organizer of networks in Guizhou province searching for kidnapped children. Other than some small businesses to support his livelihood, Mr. Chen spent almost all his time in the service of the parents of trafficked children. He had so far found five such lost children and reunited them with their parents.


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Chen Fuyu (second, from the right) is a parent of a missing child and also WRIC volunteer.


After our discussion, Mr. Chen immediately left his business to travel to Liuzhou County. He arrived in the county seat on the night of the 17th and reached Pingzhai Town police station the next morning. However, he could not find a match to the information in the email going over the residential records of the local villages. The government was conducting a census, so record-keeping should be reasonably good. Pingzhai’s government officials and police were very confident that there was no such Peng family in their jurisdiction. Mr. Chen went to Pingzhai with great enthusiasm and fair hope of success. This pronouncement was like a bucket of cold water poured over our heads.


I told Mr. Chen not to give up. Peng Qinglan was already eight to nine years old when she was kidnapped, so her memory should not err too much. Mr. Chen found a local internet café. We analyzed the situation and strategized together online. I was also on the phone with Ms. Peng at the same time. When we looked at Liuzhi’s surrounding areas, I noticed on the online map a village called Xiaping near the Machang River. I asked Peng if her family lived by a river. She said yes. I asked if she remembered a place called Machang. “Yes, I used to go there often.” Did she remember a village named Lizhai? “My sister was married there. There’s also a Miao village up the hill.” There was a Miaochong Village nearby on the map. Other geographical features also fit her recollections.


Mr. Chen and I were excited again. I was beside myself. “Found it! We found it!” Peng Qinglan, who was still on the phone, was also ecstatic.


It was night by then, Mr. Chen was still in Liuzhi, which was twenty kilometers away from Machang over mountainous roads. He went to the neighborhood committee and found the officials there very accommodating. They were moved by the enthusiasm of the Huijiawang volunteer. One of the workers here phoned a relative living in Machang, telling him to go to Xiaping Village no matter how late the night was and call back with the message as soon as possible.


It was a long night. Mr. Chen and I couldn’t get to sleep waiting for the phone call. It must have been a sleepless night for Ms. Peng as well. We were waiting for one night. She had been waiting for twenty-two of her thirty years on earth.