Ren Nan(Nickname Nannan) was born with HIV/AIDS. Her mother contracted HIV from selling blood. Nannan's older sister, Xiao Hua, did not have HIV. Around the time when Nannan's parents passed away, Xiao Hua left home to search for a job in the city, leaving Nannan alone. Nan Nan's married older sister was not allowed by her in-laws to visit her.
Because Nannan had HIV, her sick parents decided not to send her to school for fear of stigma, which could further complicate Nannan's life and the family's livelihood. Rumors were already spreading in the surrounding villages about the "blood disease." Unaware and uneducated about HIV/AIDS, most farmers in her village suspected that HIV was transmitted through physical contact. When Zhang Ying found Nan Nan in November 2003, it was nearly a year after her parents passed away. Nan Nan was about twelve years old then, but AIDS had stunted her growth so that she looked about eight or nine.
Ren Nan was in dire need of medical attention. In 2003, the hospitals in Fuyang were only capable of testing for the presence of HIV, and only one hospital in Beijing was equipped with the proper medical facilities for the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Zhang Ying saw that Nan Nan needed emergency medical supervision, and immediate medical treatment was a matter of life or death. Zhang Ying decided that she would take Nannan to Beijing herself on the eve of the Chinese New Year Holiday.
Ditan Hospital in Beijing was one of the leading AIDS hospitals in China and considered to be the major referral center for HIV patients. In 2003 there were no doctors trained to treat children, and more importantly, there were no pediatric HIV/AIDS medications available. Doctor Zhao agreed to see Nannan only on the condition that Prof. Johnson (Kay Johnson from Hampshire College in the US) was able to provide her with the proper medicines from outside China.
Subsequently, Prof. Johnson contacted Aid for AIDS, a US-based NGO that recycles unused or overstocked AIDS medicines that would otherwise be discarded by patients or clinics in the United States. With a prescription from Doctor Zhao, Aid for AIDS was able to provide Nan Nan with quality anti-retroviral (ARV) for children.
A successful visit with Doctor Zhao naturally brought joy to the hearts of both Zhang Ying and Nannan. Since this was Nan Nan and Xiao Hua's first trip to Beijing, Zhang Ying took them around the city, showed them Wangfujing (the Chinese equivalent of NYC's Broadway or 5th avenue shopping area), and took them to McDonalds for the first time. On New Year's night, Nannan and Zhang Ying left for Fuyang. Before the coming of the New Year, millions of migrants make a mass exodus back home to celebrate New Year's night with their families, so the three women rode an empty train home that night. But on that lonely train ride back home, Zhang Ying and Nannan were each other's family.
Ren Nan Today
With the help of AOS director Zhang Ying, Nannan returned to school. Today she is a junior in high school. Every day she goes to school with her many friends and every Saturday afternoon she attends the "Saturday Gatherings" held at the AOS center. On December 1st of 2006, Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-Premier WuYi met Nannan at Zhongnanhai in Beijing, and encouraged her to "be stronger" and "braver." On November 29 of 2008, Premier Wen Jiabao came to Fuyang in person visited Nannan, and gave her books and encouraging words.
In the future, Nannan dreams of becoming an artist because she hopes that she can portray all the beautiful things in life in her pictures. Nannan will also work as a staff member at AOS. She hopes to help other HIV+ children. Moreover, she hopes to build a stigma-free society where children affected by HIV/AIDS can live in a stigma free and healthy environment.