Weathering the Storm, Chapter 1 of Part One

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Foreword

My name is Zhong Fangqiong (I once used the name Zhong Mingfang). I am a woman of 39 years. My home address is: Apartment #7, 3rd Floor, No. 4 Renheyuan Building, 36 Dongsan Section of Erhuan Road, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province. The address of my childhood home is: 7th Commune, Yangming Village, Yunlong Township, Jianyang City. I used to own my own business with a personal net worth of 700,000 Yuan1 and a monthly income of more than 10,000 Yuan. I was born with an aneurysm of the cranial artery in my right leg and spent more than 30 years seeking for a cure but got nowhere. In 1995, surgeons at the Chinese Army General Hospital operated on my leg and removed an entire blood vessel from my leg, but my illness still didn't improve. In 1997, over 30 renowned experts from the Eastern China Medical University (also known as the Sichuan Medical University) gathered together to discuss my case. Their unanimous verdict was that intracranial artery aneurysm is a rare and difficult disease to treat and the international medical community has yet to develop an effective cure for this disease. But after practising Falun Gong for just two months, my intracranial artery aneurysm miraculously disappeared. I experienced the joy of being completely healthy for the first time in my life. On July 20th, 1999, the regime of the former Chinese President Jiang Zemin violated the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and started a ruthless persecution against Falun Gong and its practitioners. Like tens of thousands of other practitioners, I have endured indescribable persecution during the last several years. More than 38 organisations have participated in my persecution. I have been illegally detained a total of 29 times and spent a total of 743 days in various detention centres and forced labour camps. I have been subjected to all kinds of inhumane torture. To this day, I can't go home and am forced to wander from place to place to avoid being arrested again.

Part I. Life in a Sphere of Suffering

Summary: Before I started to cultivate Falun Gong, all I wanted was to make money, to cure my illness, and to prepare myself to soon be paralyzed...

Chapter 1: A Bitter Childhood
a) Purple Birthmark

On August 21st, 1965, I was born to an unfortunate family at the foot of Miaozishan Mountain, Yangming Village, Yunlong Town, Jianyang City, Sichuan Province. The misery in my life started from the day I was born. Upon arriving in the world, purple birthmarks covered my right side extending from my buttock to my foot. I'm the second child among four girls. My father once had hernia surgery, and couldn't handle heavy labour afterwards. My mother was raised in a poor family that couldn't afford to send her to hospital when she was sick, and she was left limping on her left leg. My older sister contracted infantile paralysis when she was five. As she didn't receive proper medical care, her right leg and foot suffered permanent damage, and she became a well-known cripple in the village.

In the summer when I was six years old, I suddenly saw a black blood vessel running from my right foot to my buttock among the purple birthmarks, which scared my parents. They borrowed money and took me to our village clinic and then the Yunlong Township clinic. They spent quite a lot of money, and I took quite a lot of medicine, but my condition didn't get any better after half a year of treatment at the local clinics. Winter arrived and the weather turned cold, but my parents' loving hearts toward their unfortunate daughter did not turn cold. Despite his own ailment, my father took me to Jianyang City's Chinese Medicine Hospital 22 miles away. The doctor said my blood had died inside the vessel and blocked the vessel. He prescribed a great amount of Chinese herbal medicine shaped in balls as big as dates to invigorate my blood circulation and told my father that I had to take the medicine for a long time. After paying for the medicine, my father had no money left. If we were to take the bus home, my father didn't need to buy a ticket for me since I was a young child but he would have to spend 90 cents for his own ticket. At that time, 90 cents was definitely no small amount for a peasant. It would take him over ten days to earn that amount of money. So my father and I decided to walk back home. It took us from 1 PM to 9 PM to walk the 22 miles home.

b) Seeing Doctors and Looking for Medicine

In order to help my parents earn money to treat my sickness, I started to get up early and go to bed late to collect manure or grass since I was a young child. The junior high school I attended was five miles from home. Every morning I would carry a basket to school. After lunch, while my classmates took a nap, I'd go out to pull some grass on a nearby mountain. Also on my way home, I'd pull grass. When I got home, it would be pitch dark. By the time I finished my homework, it was usually past midnight. There is a cemetery near my house. At the age of eight, I saw ghosts in the vegetable field next to my house. I couldn't erase what I had seen from my memory. So I often became very scared at night, and had to turn on the radio while I was doing my homework so I would not hear the sounds outside.

My parents went everywhere looking for a cure for my illness. My condition was finally stable enough for me to make it to junior high school. When I was in junior high school, my mother heard from people in her parent's hometown that there was a very good acupuncture doctor in Dafo District, Lezhi County. My parents decided to take me to see the doctor. They wouldn't give up as long as there was even a glimmer of hope. Once the treatment started, I would walk 20 to 25 miles to see the doctor every Saturday after school. I was only twelve years old at that time. The doctor said the same thing that my other doctors had told me - my blood vessel was blocked and he needed to use acupuncture to force the blood to circulate and prevent it from stagnating. In every single treatment, he would insert different sized acupuncture needles, some long, some short, some big, some small, into all the acupuncture points from my buttock to my right foot. I felt like tens of thousands of mosquitoes were biting me. I also felt a lot of sensations at the same time, including swollenness, pain and numbness. What's more, the doctor would twist all the needles every once in a while. Just when I started to feel that the pain was gong away, it would rise up again. A single treatment would last half a day. I always comforted myself by telling myself that I would be better off in the long run if my temporary pain meant that I would not suffer pain the future and that I would be able to have a good life once my illness was cured.

c) A Muddy Road in the Storm

Whenever school was closed, I would go with the girls from my village who were five or six years older than I to a place ten miles away to collect grass in order to earn money to cure my disease.

Since we wouldn't get back home until dark, it wasn't possible to eat lunch. My mother always did her best to find me some tasty snack, such as a few peanuts, a cooked duck egg, or a piece of candy. I always shared the snacks with the girls from the village to make sure that they would take me with them the next time.

One day I collected 40 to 50 pounds of grass. I was only twelve years old at the time, and the weight felt so heavy that I couldn't keep my back straight. It was getting dark and we were still miles from home. I tried my best to keep up with the older girls. It suddenly started to rain, and the road became muddy and slippery. My shoes were made of cloth and it was hard to walk in the mud and rain in those shoes. I took them off so that I wouldn't fall. Because I couldn't see clearly in the dark, I walked on some thorns and they pricked into my feet. Tears flowed down my face but I didn't dare to tell the other girls and just kept on walking. My face was covered with rain, sweat and tears. On the way home, we had to climb down the Longzhongtuo Mountain. We had to pass through a narrow shoulder next to a cliff with rapids running below the cliff. By that time, it was pitch black. We couldn't see anything. The only thing we could hear was the sound of the rapids. The shoulder was paved with rocks. There was one piece of rock that was very small. It was a temporary replacement and didn't feel stable at all. When you stepped on it, you could feel the stone shifting underneath your feet. Because a lot of people had walked on it, a thick layer of yellow mud had collected on top of that stone. Because of the rain, the mud had made the rock very slippery. If I fell, I would go over the cliff and fall into the torrent below. I was terrified but managed to make it through. We kept walking and walking. We finally saw some lights from our village and I was just too tired to take another step forward. I told the village girls that I would wait there and asked them to tell my parents to come and get me. When my father finally came for me, pain flew out of my heart like a flood. I fell into my father's arms and cried and cried. I felt so angry about my medical condition. If I didn't have it, how would I be made to suffer this much.

1. Yuan: Chinese currency. The average monthly income in China is 500 Yuan per person.

[To be continued]

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