'Mother Peng' devoted to fight against HIV/AIDS

By Shan Juan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-03-19 23:16:50

'Mother Peng' devoted to fight against HIV/AIDS

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan wave as they arrive at Bali, Indonesia on October 5, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

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Beyond her title as China's first lady, Peng Liyuan is known for other things, such as being a prominent figure in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

She is the image ambassador of the National Health and Family Planning Commission for control and prevention of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and the World Health Organization's ambassador in the fight against the deadly virus.

But for some Chinese children affected by HIV/AIDS, she is simply called "Mother Peng".

Her special friendship with such children dates back to 2006, when she was named as the image ambassador for the commission, which was then called the Ministry of Health. That year, Peng made her first visit to children affected by HIV/AIDS at the Fuyang AIDS Orphan Salvation Association in Anhui province.

Zhang Ying, head of the NGO she single-handedly founded about 10 years ago, said the memory of Peng's visit was still vivid.

Peng came in April 2006 after a long haul by air and car, Zhang recalled. In her three days with the children, who had lost their parents to HIV/AIDS or who themselves were HIV-positive, she sang, danced and drew pictures.

"Ambassador Peng holds deep and sincere affection for these children. She's like their mother," Zhang said.

Gao Jun, who was 3 years old at the time, began to call her "Mother Peng," after she hugged him gently. Gao suffered from full-blown AIDS and had lost both parents to the deadly disease.

"Her care for the children hasn't stopped since then," Zhang said. Peng would meet with the children about twice a year at various charity events, she said.

"Every time, she would bring gifts. She even picked different kinds for each child according to their gender and interests," she said.

Sometimes "she brought schoolbags stuffed with stationery and snacks. But there was never an empty bag," Zhang said. "I was deeply touched. She was so busy but still so considerate."

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