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Young Earthquake Victim Adjusts To New Life
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Young Earthquake Victim Adjusts To New Life

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Young Earthquake Victim Adjusts To New Life

Young Earthquake Victim Adjusts To New Life
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Melissa Block has an update on 12-year-old Huang Meihua, who had both her legs amputated after her school collapsed on her in the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China. Meihua is now at a new school, where's she's made a lot of friends and is studying hard. Since we met her, she's gotten some physical therapy and practices walking during the lunch hour every day.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

And we have one more update, this on someone we met in China earlier this year. Back in May, we introduced you to 12-year-old Huang Meihua, actually she introduced herself this way.

HUANG MEIHUA: (Foreign language spoken)

BLOCK: First of all, I'm quite pretty, she says, with a dramatic flourish of her hand. I'm smart.

MEIHUA: (Foreign language spoken)

BLOCK: I can make you laugh.

MEIHUA: (Foreign language spoken)

BLOCK: If I listed all of my good qualities, she says, it would take more than three days and three nights.

MEIHUA: (Foreign language spoken)

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: If that spirited voice hasn't triggered your memory, maybe this next detail will. When we met Meihua, she was in a wheelchair, both of her legs amputated above the knee. They had been crushed when her school collapsed around her during the huge earthquake that hit Sichuan province the year before. Meihua spent eight months in the hospital and then moved with her mother to a temporary shelter where she attended school in prefab barracks.

That's where I met her and her parents told me they were worried about how she'd continue her education after that school closed. Well, a couple of weeks after our visit, my producer and I found ourselves at a very nice private school, the Guang Ya school in Dujiangyan, for an interview with an American sculptor. And we noticed it was flat, no stairs. Wouldn't it be perfect for Meihua, we thought. On our way out, we paid a courtesy visit to the principal. And over tea and cookies, we got to talking about Meihua. Long story short, within weeks the principal who has made it his mission to reach out to children in need, had invited Meihua to enroll at the school. Today, we reached her by phone during her lunch break.

MEIHUA: Hello, hi. This is Meihua.

BLOCK: Meihua is in the sixth grade at Guang Ya school. She lives in the teacher's dormitory with her mother and father. He now has a job in the school cafeteria.

MEIHUA: (Foreign language spoken)

BLOCK: Meihua says she likes school, almost all the subjects, although English is hard, since she has never studied it before. She has made new friends.

MEIHUA: (Foreign language spoken)

BLOCK: In fact, there is no one she hasn't befriended, she tells us. As for her injuries, she used to really hate wearing her prosthetic legs, was embarrassed by them. She wasn't getting any exercise. Well, last summer, she spent a month at a rehabilitation center in the provincial capital and worked with a physical therapist daily.

MEIHUA: (Foreign language spoken)

BLOCK: Now, she says, when her classmates are having their noon fiesta, she puts on her prostheses and practicing walking.

MEIHUA: (Foreign language spoken)

BLOCK: Wearing the prosthetic legs everyday still makes her uncomfortable, but overall Huang Meihua tells us she is doing well. She'll be turning 13 in February.

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