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Wednesday, November 7
My father gave me and my brother a little money. My stomach is all twisted up with hunger, but I don't want to spend the money on anything as frivolous as food. Because it's money my parents earn with their sweat and blood.
I have to study well so that I won't ever again be tortured by hunger. . . .
In a drought-stricken corner of rural China, an education can be the difference between a life of crushing poverty and the chance for a better future. But money is scarce, and the low wages paid for backbreaking work aren't always enough to pay school fees.
Ma Yan's heart-wrenching, honest diary chronicles her struggle to escape hardship and bring prosperity to her family through her persistent, sometimes desperate, attempts to continue her schooling.
First published in France in 2002, the diary of ma yan created an outpouring of support for this courageous teenager and others like her -- support that led to the creation of an international organization dedicated to helping these children . . . all because of one ordinary girl's extraordinary diary.
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Ma Yan is a teenager from Ningxia, China. She was thirteen and fourteen when she wrote these diary entries. Now sixteen, Ma Yan hopes to attend a university: "I want to study journalism," says Ma Yan. "My purpose is to keep the whole world informed, to report the poverty and real life in this area."From School Library Journal:
Grade 5-8–In 2001, while a French journalist was visiting remote Ningxia province in northwest China, a Muslim woman wearing the white headscarf of the Hui people thrust the diaries of her daughter into his hands. The three small notebooks described the girl's struggle to get an education despite extreme poverty. Each week Ma Yan and her younger brothers walked seven miles to school where they stayed until Friday night when they returned home. Often their only food was a small bowl of rice at midday. Only occasionally did they have a bit of money to buy some vegetables in the market or to catch a tractor ride home for the weekend. Ma Yan studied hard, but she did not feel successful unless she was number one in her class. When she didn't rank first, she was berated by her mother and made to feel guilty for her lack of effort. Her parents worked constantly to make a better life for their children, farming their own fields, harvesting crops for others, and collecting the plant fa cai from the steppes north of their home. The girl's feelings for her mother were powerful and complex, and she alternated between overwhelming love and rage at the injustices she suffered. While this book will not hold the interest of average readers because of its overly didactic tone, it does paint a vivid portrait of the daily life of a child in a part of the world seldom visited.–Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA
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