Li Shi and Zhou Li’s Hengyang Adventure

Empowering our young adults

Zhou Li

They can laugh about it now. And they do—often and heartily. It must have been quite the adventure, these two young men from International China Concern’s Changsha Project independently making the hour-long train journey to Hengyang. 

There was a traffic jam on the way to the train station, they tell us. Because of it, they missed their scheduled afternoon departure, and had to figure out how to rebook their tickets for the evening train. They shrug and laugh. It was no big deal.

But the overriding impression that comes through these two young men as they speak is deeper than the laughter. Beyond the fact that 
Li Shi, 28, and Zhou Li, 22, are good friends who enjoy each other’s company, there is something more. These two exude joy. Their lives are full. As Zhou Li put it in a recent update to his sponsors: “You may think my daily life is dull or boring, but I think it is rich and substantial.” 

In early February, these two young men made up their minds to travel to ICC’s Hengyang Project during Chinese New Year to spend time with the children there and see how they were faring in the new children’s care centre.

With the help of long-term ICC volunteer Sunny Sun, Li Shi and Zhou Li arranged their 
accommodations. They booked their own train tickets. With their own money, they bought snacks and small gifts for the children in Hengyang. Then they set off to volunteer in Hengyang and encourage the children there.

“We went there to have fun with the children—playing games and going out with them for walks,” Zhou Li says.

Li Shi

A heart of generosity comes naturally to these two young men. With the money he made selling newspapers, hard-working Li Shi has become a Hand in Hand sponsor in his own right to another young person in Changsha.

Li Shi has cerebral palsy and has been in ICC’s care since 1997. He was abandoned at a train station at the age of five, and spent his first years at the welfare centre sharing a bed with another child. The two kept each other warm and made sure that the other received enough food, since both were almost totally immobile. Without ICC’s support, Li Shi would likely not have lived to dream of making this journey, nor even considered taking such a trip independently.

Zhou Li came into ICC’s care at three years of age with a cleft lip and palate. He has received informal culinary training and can now cook for more than ten people. He has recently been cooking for the staff of a small company and is
able to buy birthday presents for his friends with his own wages. Both men live in ICC’s Canaan Homes, a setting that provides young adults with semi-independent living in a supportive environment.

In spite of missing their train and being delayed, their Hengyang journey was a great trip, they say.

“It’s really good to see that the kids in Hengyang have a better environment in their new building,” says Zhou Li. “I’m very happy for that.”

“It felt really good to have the time together,” adds Li Shi. “We learned to helped each other during the trip.”

What’s next for these two men? “If we have the opportunity, we will go to Sanmenxia,” says Li Shi.

“We want to get to know the other orphans there and see how they are doing,” chimes in Zhou Li.