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‘Fur Child’ Lili in Shanghai: Visitors, Friends, and Hope

Liu Tingyue and Lili.
Liu Tingyue and Lili.

Lili playing with her new toys

Last week, Liu Jiangli, perhaps better known as ‘Fur Child’ Lili, underwent initial surgery for her unique skin condition.

A week ago last Sunday, I arrived at Shanghai’s No. 9 People’s Hospital to meet Anjuer, the Angel Mom Foundation volunteer responsible for overseeing Lili’s medical treatments, Lili herself, as well as some other visitors from around China and even some chinaSMACK’s readers themselves.

Lili looking at notes and letters from well-wishers.
Lili looking at notes and letters written by well-wishers from afar.

Among the many visitors was Eric (Xu Zebin), a reporter for the Qianzhong Morning Report in Guizhou. His initial report on Lili was one of the first to get noticed and brought her story to the attention of foundations like Angel Mom. In fact, it was because Anjuer (Xie Anhua) had seen his report on Weibo earlier that inspired her to sponsor Lili’s surgery. Normally, kids have to contact the Angel Mom Foundation first before Angel Mom will sponsor them, but in this case, Anjuer made an exception for Lili.

Lili in the waiting room with her adopted grandpa

Anjuer takes time from her job to volunteer for both the Angel Mom Foundation and the Children’s Hope Foundation. She is not compensated for the work she does for either. Shortly after checking up on Lili, she hurried off to check up on some of the kids at Shanghai’s Children’s Hope Center.

Lili received many gifts from the people that came to visit her. When I arrived, she was playing with Liu Tingyue, the daughter of one her visitors. The two were running about the waiting room, toys in hand, chattering and laughing. Lili finally got to enjoy what it was like being a “normal” kid.

Lili playing with Liu Tingyue
Lili playing with Liu Tingyue.
 Liu Tingyue and Lili.
Liu Tingyue and Lili.

Besides Eric and Anjuer was Little Wolf, a long-time commenter on chinaSMACK who once ran a blog about expat life in China called Sinocidal. After reading chinaSMACK’s translation of Lili’s story early last month, he became instrumental in working with chinaSMACK itself to help raise funds for Lili from kind-hearted readers on chinaSMACK both within China and abroad.

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Here’s his story in his own words:

WARNING! EXTREME SAPPINESS AHEAD!

You ever wake up and go outside and the sky is just a shade bluer and the clouds are just a little fluffier than usual? And the birds…. their song is just a little bit sweeter? That’s been my morning today. No, I didn’t get laid last night. But I certainly had one of the most perfect days of my life yesterday. A day full of only good vibes and friendliness, not a single grump or situation where I wanted to choke somebody’s fucking weasel neck.

It started out like any other day…my dog, Meatball, pouncing on my chest and knocking the wind out of me at the usual time, wanting a snack. There was a positive vibe from the start and I dressed and met the lovely Jane, a reporter from the local paper, at the Hangzhou station, rode the express train to Shanghai and navigated our way on the subway to the stop near Lili’s hospital and came up into the daylight. It felt like Jane and I were on a quest to spread happiness and cheer and everybody we came into contact with was aware of it. Everybody was so nice and polite to us, as if we had stepped into the China of Bizarro World. A man walked up to us and asked what we were looking for (we must have appeared lost). He spoke to Jane and happily pointed us in the right direction. As we walked toward the hospital Jane started laughing.

Jane: Could you understand the old man?

Little Wolf: Not a word.

Jane: He said the hospital should put a sign there. Everyday day there are more than a hundred people looking for the hospital.

Little Wolf: Wow…what a happy guy. So…he just likes to stand there and give directions everyday?

Jane: I think so.

We were met downstairs by Eric, the reporter from Guiyang that wrote the original story about Lili. We went up to Lili’s room on the 16th floor. There were already a lot of people in there as I was surprised to see she was the only child in a room with 5 beds and each bed had some pretty banged up and bandaged people. I think it must have been scary for a 6 year-old.

Little Wolf and Lili.

Little Wolf and Lili.

Wo hen gaoxing jiandao ni [I am very happy to see you],” I said and shook Lili’s hand. She was very shy at first, as expected. But she warmed up quickly, especially when I reached into the bag of presents. Surprisingly (or maybe not), it seemed she liked a coloring book and crayons the most of all the gifts.

Lili with her coloring book

Lili with her coloring book

After visiting for awhile, we had wanted to take Lili out for pizza but she was having too much fun playing with all her new stuff. After lunch, I grabbed a Happy Meal for Lili and returned to the hospital to find that the party had moved downstairs to the lobby and was happy to find a few more people had shown up to see Lili including my new friends, chinaSMACKers Kyle and John. Lili had no interest in the Happy Meal (except the Coke) as she had found some friends her own size and was having a blast playing with some children to which her affliction was completely invisible and we simply stood around and admired that she was able to just be a normal kid, perhaps the first time in her life.

Lili and Little Wolf.

Left to right: Lili, Happy Meal coke, Little Wolf, peace sign.

She comes from a very small and poor village and all this new attention on her must be overwhelming for her. She is handling it like a champ though. I certainly encourage anybody in Shanghai to go see her. She’s quite a character and I think the amazing thing is that she is extraordinarily ordinary. And her life is about to get better, I hope. She’s going to require more surgeries so in the future, I’ll be helping to raise more funds, maybe some fundraising events such as some rock shows, or an eattot, linette and Fauna topless car wash (It could happen!). I’m open to suggestions.

Little Wolf and Lili.

Little Wolf and Lili.

After our goodbyes to Lili, we followed Anjuer, the volunteer from Angel Mom, on a detour to a home for orphans who are also going through medical treatments. I would compare this place to the Ronald McDonald’s House Charity in the USA that gives children and their families a place to stay while undergoing treatments far away from their homes. The volunteers at this home are among the kindest and most unselfish people you will meet anywhere. There were several children there yesterday. I met Jill, a young girl who was born with legs twisted like a crab, who will have to sit still for the next 3 months with her legs in braces that will straighten her legs. She hijacked my phone to play games the whole time. She is one of the lucky ones. There is a less-than-1-month-old baby in dire need of a kidney transplant and her condition is day-to-day. Worse than that…another baby will have to die for her to receive a kidney. Kind of puts any complaining and other problems we might have in China into context.

John with Jill at the Children's Hope Center

John with Jill at the Children’s Hope Center.

Look…I’m a lousy pitchman for this stuff but I cannot encourage the readers of this site enough…GET INVOLVED! Any time you feel bored, go visit these children. It means everything to them just to spend some time with them, teach a few English words (or whatever your native language), play some games. You would be amazed at what a good time you can have doing nothing except showing up. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Kyle and John.

Lili underwent her first surgery

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Donate towards Lili’s medical treatments »
Schedule visits to Lili or other needy Chinese children in Shanghai »

Left to right: Kyle's girlfriend, Chen, Lili, Lili's grandfather, Little Wolf, Kyle, Jane, and John.

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