'Momma Chang' provides free home to families with sick kids in Xi'an

Charitable gesture puts roof over head for patients who've traveled from out of town for treatment

By Jiang Chenglong in Beijing and Qin Feng in Xi'an | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-20 09:15
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Chang Xiangyang (fifth from right in back row) celebrates Spring Festival earlier this year with some children and parents at Xinyu Home in Xi'an, Shaanxi province. CHINA DAILY

A kindhearted woman in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, is providing a much-needed lifeline for out-of-town families with family members requiring treatment in the city, by putting them up free of charge.

Xi'an native Chang Xiangyang struck upon the idea after an encounter with a grandmother who had been sleeping in the corridor at Xi'an Children's Hospital, where her 3-year-old grandchild was receiving treatment for leukemia.

To pay for his treatment, the family had used all their savings and borrowed a significant amount of money, meaning the grandmother had to sleep on the hospital floor to save costs.

As Chang was about to leave, she overheard the grandmother saying: "If there were any other way, I wouldn't be sleeping on the ground. Even the steamed buns in Xi'an are expensive, costing 0.6 yuan (8 cents) each."

These words moved Chang deeply, revealing to her the great disparities there are in life.

"I realized that while some people wouldn't even bother picking up a one-yuan coin from the ground, others find a 0.6-yuan bun expensive. There are still so many people in need of help in this world," she said.

Chang asked the grandmother: "If there were free accommodation and meals available near the hospital, would you stay there?"

The elderly woman looked at her with a puzzled expression for several seconds.

Chang asked again.

After a long silence, the grandmother replied: "If such a place existed, it would be in the next life."

This experience stayed with Chang, and was a driving force behind her decision to set up the Xinyu Home. Xinyu means feather in the heart in Chinese.

The home, established in 2017, is located just a stone's throw from the Xi'an Children's Hospital, and is capable of accommodating up to 13 families at any one time.

To date, Xinyu Home has provided free accommodation and meals to the families of over 2,300 children with serious illnesses from all over the country.

"This home does not charge a cent to the people staying here because I want these families in difficulty to know that Xi'an is a place full of kind people who will care for them," the 52-year-old said.

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