Holding his daughter Wang Han, Wang Qingle (second from left) expresses thanks via the broadcasting system on the plane to those who donated money or provided other help for them to fly to the United States for medical treatment. On May 14, China Southern Airlines' flight crew and passengers donated 15,080 yuan ($2,394) to Wang Han on her way from Dalian to the US. Zhang Xiaomin / For China Daily
Generous benefactors rally round after hearing heartbreaking tale
With the help of many warm-hearted people, Wang Han, a little girl who scalded herself with boiling water 18 months ago, arrived at a children's hospital in Boston on May 16 for three months of free treatment.
"Compared with other unfortunate children, the youngster, nicknamed Hanhan, is lucky. She's received so much assistance," said her father, Wang Qingle, 33.
Wang said he had spent about 250,000 yuan ($40,000) on his daughter's treatment.
He got 30,000 yuan from selling his house but the rest was donated by local residents in Dalian, in Northeast China's Liaoning province.
Wang Han's parents divorced when she was 8 months old. She was then taken care of by her grandmother, Zhang Xizhi, at their village, Pulandian in Dalian.
One day in October 2010 Zhang was away and the 10-month-old Wang Han in a baby walker moved to a desk and dragged an electric immersion heater out from a thermos.
Boiling water poured down on to her head, chest, arms and hands.
"Every morning, when I wake up and see Hanhan lying beside me, I feel deeply sorry," Zhang told China Daily when she saw off the father and daughter at the airport in Dalian on May 14.
"How I hope there are no scars left on her face when she comes back from the United States," she said.
But Khor Bee Leng, a Malaysian now living in Dalian who arranged the US journey, said that is impossible.
"Hanhan is too young for plastic surgery. It would be ideal if just the function of her eyes, mouth, and hands are recovered," said the 52-year-old Chinese Malaysian housewife whose husband has worked in Dalian for 10 years. The devout Christian decided to raise money for Hanhan with her friends around the world when she heard the tragic tale.
"We are going to have her scars softened. Scars won't grow. We hope it will not affect the growth of her skeleton," she added.
"There is also a Chinese saying, 'Helping others begets happiness'. I used to strive for a better life for myself and that was hard. Now, when I'm helping others, I find real happiness."
Khor knew Wang Han through a friend, Lao Zhang. Zhang and his friends raise funds for charity through the Internet. Their online group is called Hand on Love.
Zhang said group members donated more than 60,000 yuan to Wang Han.
When Zhang told Khor about the little girl, she contacted friends in the United States and received the offer of free treatment from the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston. Khor's friends also helped find several Chinese families to accommodate Wang Han and her father Wang Qingle during their stay there.
Wang said since his daughter was scalded she has been surrounded by love.
Local residents in Dalian went to the hospital to support her. They donated money, brought daily necessities and helped by contacting specialist hospitals in Beijing.
When Khor told Wang Qingle the good news that an American hospital would treat Wang Han free, he was excited. But later, he began worrying about travel costs. For the poor family, the cost of air tickets to the US is huge.
Fortunately, someone working with the Dalian subsidiary of China Southern Airlines knew the situation and reported it to his headquarters. The company provided free round-trip tickets to Wang Han, her father and Khor.
"As a large State-owned enterprise, China Southern Airlines emphasizes social responsibility. We repay society with love. Taking advantage of our global resources, we have the ability to help Wang Han," said Luo Minghao, general manager of China Southern Airlines' Dalian subsidiary. He was at Dalian airport to see the three off.
On the flight from Dalian to Guangzhou, where they transferred to Los Angeles, flight crew and passengers donated 15,080 yuan to Wang Han.
"I feel sorry for the little girl. We happened to be on the same plane. I thought I should do something for her," said Bai Honggui, a passenger from Wenzhou in Zhejiang province who donated 2,000 yuan.
"I don't know the name of every person that helped Hanhan. But I won't forget that so many warm-hearted people let me see hope when I began to despair," said Wang Qingle.
Wang told China Daily he runs a small restaurant in his hometown. When they come back from the US, he will do his best to operate it well and earn more money for his daughter's treatment.
"I will never give up. When Hanhan grows older, I will tell her how she was helped by others and let her know that love and strong will is more important than appearance," he said.