By ERIC Yuan Long Li
Translated by Edmond Lau
You can tell by the title that the author wrote this article in a pleasant state of mind.
Indeed, I am feeling pretty good right now because I received another pair of twin sisters who will have the opportunity to experience the grace of Jesus Christ.
I have every reason to be happy. As early as June this year, I identified the first pair of twin sisters from Guizhou who needed help at a Maternal and Child Health station as part of the “Chinese Rural Girls Assistance Program”. This pair of twins, Xiao Li Zheng and Xiao Min Zheng, was born on July 2 at a Maternal and Child Health station in Bijie city. I spoke with the twins’ mother over the phone a few days ago and she said that the twins are healthy; the older sister Xiao Li Zheng is almost 14 pounds now and the younger sister Xiao Min Zheng is close to 13 pounds. When the sisters were born, both weighed slightly over 4 pounds. Their weights more than doubled since then! The sisters’ mother Yu Ying Zhang spoke over the phone half comforted, half worried, “This is going to cost us a few more hundreds of yuans each month. The father had to go out looking for work the other day.” I asked Yu Ying Zhang to send over a few photos of the twins for everyone to admire, and heard indistinctly over the phone one of the twins’ cries.
It’s funny how I have so much to say about the twin sisters. Back to topic about the pair of twins born today, October 25, 2010. Early in the morning, I went to Bijie city Zhuchang town to distribute assistance funds and to identify families who needed help. According to Dr. Min Huang from Zhuchang Hospital, there was a pair of twin girls born on September 22 from a poor family who met the criteria to receive assistance. It also happened that the twins’ grandfather came to the hospital to handle the insurance paperwork and could bring us to see the twins.
After finishing up other stuff I had to do, the twins’ grandfather brought us to a shabby farmhouse in Halang village, Yachi town. Both twin sisters were fast asleep on the same bed, so I decided not the disturb them but understand from the parents their situation in the meantime The father of the twins is called Ping Qiu; the mother called Mei He, both 31 years old. Before they were pregnant with twins, they had a son and 2 daughters. The oldest child is only 7 years old. They were pregnant with their first child in 2003, while working in Shenzhen. They were not married then, hence when the child was born, she naturally did not have any birth certificate. A child is the greatest gift that God has bestowed upon the parents; childbirth has been an unalterable fact for mankind throughout history, but unfortunately not in China these days. As expected, Ping Qiu’s daughter was a “violation” of the rules, hence when Ping Qiu and his wife returned to their hometown to give birth to their daughter, they were “levied” 800 yuans of “social maintenance” fees by the local government’s Department of Health. When the child was older, the couple returned to Shenzhen to work, and their second child was born in the meantime. The extremely astute Department of Health smelt something fishy and visited Ping Qiu’s parents. After much shouting, throwing things around, and breaking down windows and doors, they could not find anything suspicious and left bitterly with a hundred yuan “community fees”. While talking, Ping Qiu rummaged through his drawers and dug out a stack of tickets to show me. “There are 9 tickets in total, all here – we have to keep them properly just in case other people from the Department of Health come by and you can’t just claim verbally that you have paid the fines. If you don’t show them the tickets as proof, they will just assume that you did not pay the fines.”
9 pieces of “Guizhou Province Special Social Fostering Receipts” printed on green slips of paper were placed in front me. Every receipt is worth 100 yuans. 8 receipts were dated March 31, 2004 the amount paid was categorized as “No Proof”. Another receipt was dated December 17, 2003, and the amount paid was categorized as “Social Fostering Fees”. Ping Qiu’s parents said that there were also other times when they came to collect fines from their other children, breaking down doors and windows as well, collected the fines but did not issue as receipts. Ping Qiu’s mother was diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease ten years ago; his brothers borrowed money from various sources and gathered about over hundred thousand yuans to try to cure their mother’s disease. As of today, even though their mother has not been cured yet, but her condition is much more stable. Ping Qiu’s father told me when we were still on that car that if it was not for Ping Qiu’s siblings, only relying on Ping Qiu himself, his mother would most probably not have pulled through. I know he told me this because he was afraid I would “blame” Ping Qiu for having 5 kids.
After being pregnant with the third child, Ping Qiu and his wife did not dare to return to their hometown, and gave birth to the child in the town where they were working at. However, life had other plans for the couple. On May 17, 2008 Mei He was brought to the health station to be forcibly sterilized. The couple thought “who cares about sterilization, we already have one son and two daughters anyway”. But who would have guessed that the couple found out in the second half of the year that Mei He was pregnant!
The fetus was already over 3 months old when the Mei He discovered her pregnancy. This pair of twins is godsend, and no way will they be sacrificed by the personnel at health station. After going to many places, Mei He finally gave birth to the twin girls on September 22 this year at Zhuchang Hospital. “Before sterilization it has always been a single baby at one time, but after sterilization we have twins” Ping Qiu sounded like he was almost mocking the dismal techniques of the personnel at the health station, and that he was proud of his wife to give birth to a pair of adorable twins “out of nothing” even when she would not be able to produce any more eggs.
The twins were heavier than Xiao Li Zheng and Xiao Min Zheng when they were born. The older sister was over 5 pounds, and the younger sister born 15 minutes after was also over 5 pounds. The sisters’ names when combined together give the Chinese word “honesty” – the older sister was named Cheng Qiu and the younger one Shi Qiu. In my opinion, the younger sister’s name even has a poetic twinge to it.
While we were talking, one of the twins started protesting with loud cries. I hurried over to video the moment. The other twin was awake but not crying, she was studying me – the uninvited guest – with her bright eyes. The couple held up the twins for me to take photos. The sisters looked almost identical. If they wear the same clothes and have the same hairstyles when they are older, they would be head-turners on the streets!
“How can you tell who’s the older and who’s the younger sister?”
Ping Qiu said “of course I can tell them apart.” I thought he had some form of special powers but he simply pointed to me, “look at the blankets around the babies, the colors are different”.
I could only laugh at myself for being blind, “Oh yes, this way one of the twins won’t get fed twice and the other have nothing to eat.”
The sisters are very “complementary” even when they are taking photos. I don’t know if it’s the older or younger sister, but she smiles with her eyes open, and also smiles with her eyes closed. Her smiles surprise me – she can smile with such expressiveness at this young age. The other one is either staring at the camera lens or yawning, like as if protesting to me “Hurry up, I’m sleepy!”
I think the two sisters will make great actresses when they grow up.
Qiu Ping and his wife said that more children, especially with the twins, has prevented both of them from travelling far to find work. They can only rely primarily on farming in the future, and doing odd jobs nearby during off peak farming periods. The house passed down from the older generation is no longer big enough to house the family of 7. They borrowed a few thousand yuans and personally labored to build a simple 2 bedroom brick house next to the old house. Also, Mei He will most definitely get fined again, that government fine for giving birth to more than one child will come back one day; don’t know when and don’t know how much…
At this point, the Ping family said that they did not expect the “government” to provide them with financial assistance. I quickly corrected them by saying that the “Chinese Rural Girls Assistance Program” has nothing to do with the government; Christians who live a frugal life saved the funds, and the family should use the money on the twins to provide them with more nutrients.