I would like you all to meet a dear friend of mine. Her name is Huan Mei and she is from a northwest province in China called Gansu. Huan Mei and her husband have two children, a daughter and a son.
|Huan Mei and her daughter, Emily|
Huan Mei and her family live here - in this fast-growing rustic village - the same place as Deng Jie. Ya'll are not going to believe this, but Deng and Huan Mei are next door neighbors. I kid you not. They live just down this road...
Huan Mei and her husband moved from Gansu many years ago. They left their home and their families to make a fresh start here in Beijing. Huan Mei's husband is an artist and creates beautiful jewelry and decorations that are bought by many tourists and locals in the city. Huan Mei works as a cleaner. One of the main reasons that they moved here to Beijing is because of their children, Emily and Jack. Essentially, they wanted to live in a good "school district" where their children's educations would be highly valued. Beijing is the capital of China, so it gives a good name to any education.
But because Huan Mei's family is not officially from Beijing, the education that they value so highly for their children, comes at a great cost. Instead of being free, Huan Mei and her husband must work very hard to put their not one, but two children through school. If they had been 北京人, as we call someone from Beijing, their first child's education would be free, but their son's, Jack's, would still need to be paid for.
Huan Mei and her husband work hard. Huan Mei works long hours every day cleaning and then comes home to care for her family. Her delight is her children and she desires to be a good mother to them and supply them with all of the potential and opportunities that she can. She's on her own, most days, because transportation is long and expensive and her husband says in Beijing most weeks. He lives in cheap housing many floors below ground-level. It's dark, cold and dismal. It may not be a life, but it makes a living.
|Huan Mei's home|
But Huan Mei's home is never sullen or boring. It's a cramped and falling apart haven of love and passion. In Huan Mei's courtyard are growing seasonal vegetables, like green beans, bitter melon and zucchini. Huan Mei is probably the most "fun mom" you'll ever meet. She lets her kids raise bunny rabbits and she lets them run free in the yard. Seriously, what a fun mom!
Despite her family's struggles, Huan Mei is one of the happiest, most full people you will ever meet. She just spills over with joy and excitement...