This is part of an entry where Ma Yan talks about having lost a pen:
The diary entries in this book were translated from Mandarin to French, then to English. They were written by a determined and strong-headed teen girl named Ma Yan, who lived in one of the poorest regions in rural China.
The book opens with Ma Yan recounting her mother telling her that she couldn't afford to send her to school anymore. Money was scarce at home after five consecutive years of drought and they could only send her brothers to school.
Ma Yan poured her grief into her diary. But what was to be done?
Injected throughout the book are short chapters of notes from a French journalist, Pierre Haski, who first published extracts from Ma Yan's diary. In May, 2001, Pierre and his journalistic crew visited Zhangjiashu, Ma Yan's village. As they were about to leave, a village woman wearing a white head scarf of the Chinese Muslims ran and passed them a letter with three brown notebooks. She insisted they take them.
Those three notebooks? Ma Yan's diaries.
That village woman? Ma Yan's mother.
That's how it all started.
What impressions have I received from her diary?
Her family was really very poor. Ma Yan's father sometimes left home to work in Inner Mongolia for three months. The whole family had to harvest wheat for a rich man's family for very little money. Ma Yan's school lunch consisted of a bowl of rice. If she wanted vegetables or potatoes, she'd need to get them quick or ask for some from her cousin (her nemesis, it seems). There was no meat. And most excruciating of all was this: all the children, if they didn't pay a yuan to ride on a tractor, had to walk to school (or back home from school) for hours.
They had to walk on treacherous terrains for hours. Sometimes in the dark. Sometimes in bitter cold. Sometimes bullied and robbed by hooligans. They risked all of that just to go to school.
I've heard about this happening in poor regions of China but have always thought this was another generation ago. But no. It's still the situation now. In the 2000s.
How fiercely Ma Yan has fought for her education then!
In more than 90% of her entries, she ended them with strong determined notes of studying harder. Always studying harder! So she could get a good job in future and let her parents lead a more comfortable life. If she failed a test, or didn't even come in second in class, she would feel like a failure, like somebody who didn't deserve the sacrifices her mother had made for her to go to school. There was a lot of expectations, a lot of responsibilities, and a lot of burden. All of which were derived from poverty.
Which reminds me of this pin:
I hope we are all fortunate. And I hope more children like Ma Yan will have the opportunity to keep studying to make a difference in their lives.
Share This Post
Connect with Claudine
Grab My Button!
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.carryusoffbooks.com/blog.html" title="CarryUsOff Books" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.weebly.com/uploads/5/6/8/1/5681205/5653609_orig.jpg" alt="CarryUsOff Books" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
Hey, I'm Claudine. Welcome!
Want to know what children's stories can inspire & lead to?
by Kate Hanney
Really enjoyed the honest voice of this narrator ~ a teenager let down by his mother and the foster care system, and almost-picked up through his involvement with a gang.