Xiaoman is a 12-year-old Chinese boy who wished to have a happy life. His parents had divorced when he was little, and his father, who had custody of him, became a drug addict and often beat Xiaoman. The legal and social welfare systems in China sadly offered him little protection.
It was so bad that he ran away from home one cold, wintry day in January 2018.
As fate would have it, Xiaoman ended up at the door of a kind and good Samaritan who took him in and helped him to have a brighter future.
“Someone knocked on my door while my son was practicing the piano. I opened the door and saw a young boy wearing thin clothing standing at the door,” Shaoling (alias) recounted on Minghui.org. “I could not believe that any mother would willingly allow her child out in such terrible weather with so few clothes on.”
Xiaoman was living behind her neighborhood in a bungalow. The boy told her he had visited her house once last year and could think of nowhere else to go—so she quickly let him in out of the cold. She noted that although his thin, gaunt frame made him appear a lot younger, he was the same age as her younger son.
Neglected Little Boy
The boy came in, and Shaoling’s son played with him all morning.
But the second sign that something was wrong came when Shaoling asked the boy to call his parents to tell them he’d be staying for lunch through the bad weather, and he said he didn’t know their phone number.
Then in the afternoon, worried that he’d been away too long, Shaoling asked Xiaoman to go home, but he insisted that his parents were used to him staying out for long hours.
Eventually as it was getting dark, Shaoling forced him to go home.
But only a little while later, Xiaoman returned saying that his mother let him play for another half hour. He stayed until 6 p.m., which is when Shaoling sternly told him, “It’s already dark and you must get home.”
But the boy returned again shortly after, saying that the door was locked. Shaoling had no choice but to let him stay for dinner.
Around 9 p.m., Shaoling saw that the boy was still hanging around, and no one had come to collect him. So she and her older son decided to walk him home.
When they got to Xiaoman’s neighborhood, the boy grew worried. He finally gave another explanation, that his father was working in another city and that he had just moved into this house with his family and he couldn’t recognize his house at night.
Finding Xiaoman’s Family
Shaoling took him back home. She couldn’t leave a child out there all alone.
When morning came, she sent him back to his house. He came back, saying the door was locked. When she sent him back after lunch, he came back once again and said it was still locked.
He told Shaoling, “The door was still locked. The owner of a nearby mahjong house called my grandfather for me. My grandfather wants me to stay with you. He will come to take me home after he takes care of my great-grandfather, who is in the hospital.”
Shaoling tried to contact the mahjong house, but found no one was ever there. Her husband felt that Xiaoman was a neglected child, so they let him stay until he could get picked up. During his stay, they took him everywhereeven though they had their hands full with their own two children.
Shaoling began treating him as she did her own children. She fed Xiaoman and clothed him, just as she did her own sons. But, as boy are apt to do, the children got into fights and arguments over even the smallest things.
When fights broke out, Shaoling only used reason with them. She was—like millions of other people in China—someone who followed the still-persecuted spiritual practice Falun Dafa.
The practice teaches people five simple qigong exercises and the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance—and grew tremendously in popularity since the ’90s because of the physical health benefits people saw from doing the exercises, and mental health benefits from following the three principles. Yet in 1999, communist China outlawed the spiritual practice, which goes against communism’s atheist rule, because of its widespread popularity.
Shaoling now she imparted these three principles to her children as well, teaching them to deal with conflicts by thinking first to these tenets.
Her sons were used to this reasoning, but it was an eye-opener for Xiaoman.
One night Xiaoman caught a cold and was coughing. Shaoling’s older son encouraged Xiaoman to meditate, to recite “truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance are good,” and to do the qigong exercises that form part of the practice of Falun Dafa.
Within two days Xiaoman’s cough and cold were gone. He was really surprised to get better so quickly and saw the benefits of the practice.
The kindness Xiaoman saw in Shaoling and her sons was so different from what he was used to he had to comment on it.
“Auntie, you are so kind. I really envy your sons. It would be wonderful if you were my mom!” he told her.
Help From Her Friend
Shaoling’s mother had told her to hand the boy over to police, but she knew this was likely not the best thing for the boy, as they would have only returned him to his abusive home with no further action.
Now 12 days had gone by and the boy’s grandparents had not shown up. No one had come to claim the boy. Shaoling grew worried and told a friend about the boy. She needed help.
She and her friend then set out to locate Xiaoman’s family. They found out from neighbors that the boy’s parents had divorced and that his father didn’t actually work in another city. So Shaoling confronted Xiaoman and asked him to tell the truth, so that they could help him.
He finally told the truth about his abusive family situation. He showed Shaoling and her friend the scars. He begged in tears for them not to send him home.
Shaoling felt sad for the boy, but thought that if he didn’t go home, the drug addict father would come around to cause more trouble. Nonetheless, her friend pointed out that even if they returned him home, Xiaoman’s future would be certainly ruined.
They thought maybe they could find a better alternative for Xiaoman, and set out to contact other relatives of his, who could make a guardian decision.
Xiaoman Opens Up
The boy gave them the address of his maternal grandmother. When they talked to her, she told them she wouldn’t take the boy and told them to return the boy to his father. But the boy cried, “Please don’t send me home. I’ll be beaten again.”
Shaoling and her friend suggested they send Xiaoman to a boarding school, so he could get away from his abusive parent, if the grandparents could not take him in. Xiaoman’s grandfather then thanked them and sent them on their way.
But after they had left, they worried that the family may decide not to send him to boarding school.
So determined they were to see the boy have a brighter future, they turned back around to make their case again. They even offered to pay the expenses of Xiaoman’s schooling—before the grandparents turned them away again.
But the look in Xiaoman’s eyes made them turn back around a second time.
“On our way over here, we promised Xiaoman that we wouldn’t leave him with his family. What we did could hurt him so deeply that he might not trust anyone ever again. It is better that we keep him with us even though we’ll have to come back tomorrow,” Shaoling’s friend said.
They turned back now to take the child. His grandfather was moved. He said, “I can see that you are truly doing this for the wellbeing of this child.”
When they returned the next day, the grandfather had made arrangements for Xiaoman’s boarding school. Xiaoman was very happy about this. He told Shaoling that he had kept reciting “truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance are good” all day. He was sure that this was helping things go better for him.
His grandfather said to them, “You have knocked on our door twice for the sake of this child and offered money for his schooling. We feel very ashamed. Nowadays, good people like you are few and far between. We will never forget you.”
Shaoling told him that she and her friend had helped because it is what Falun Dafa practitioners do—they help others and try to think of others before themselves. If they weren’t following Falun Dafa’s principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, they would likely not have helped as much.