What Will This Courageous Boy Do When He Grows Up?

Dr. Grant Stewart, retired trauma surgeon from Vancouver, and Dr. John Ducas, cardiologist from Winnipeg, with Zhen Yi and his dad in 2012

Dr. Grant Stewart, retired trauma surgeon from Vancouver, and Dr. John Ducas, cardiologist from Winnipeg, with Zhen Yi and his dad in 2012

If you’re like me, you’ll cry when you find out. It makes me wonder about making a difference in someone’s life, especially a child’s. Can we ever know the extent of the difference we’re really making? Take the story of Zhen Yi for instance. Due to outside help and inspiration, what might this boy eventually do to help his own people?

A Wee Bit of Background

In 2009, members of the BBQCA— a Canadian humanitarian group called the Bethune Baiqiuen Canadian Alliance— met Zhen Yi. They were at an elementary school in a remote village in Hebei province, China, donating school supplies. When they saw Zhen Yi, there was something about him that caught their attention. Sure there were the crutches, but there was also his vulnerability and the look of hope in his eyes. How could the BBQCA not help this child?

The BBQCA took Zhen Yi under their wing and with their support, over the years, he has been admitted to the Bethune International Peace Hospital in Shijiazhuang several times. (More surgeries are to come.) From a child in 2009 to a young man in 2015, the Canadian doctors have stood by Zhen Yi. They’ve opened his life to a world of possibility that touches something deep inside me. You too? Watch this video and get the answer to the question, “What Will This Courageous Boy Do When He Grows Up?”

Zhen Yi and the Bethune Baiqiuen Canadian Alliance

BBQCA Mission

Like Dr. Norman Bethune, members of the Bethune Baiqiuen Canadian Alliance (BBQCA) care about the welfare of the people of China, especially those living in under-developed areas. The group is made up of professional health care people (doctors, nurses, etc.), plus others like me, who have no medical affiliation.  When I discovered the group “by chance” only one year ago, their mission spoke to my heart: To promote the friendship between the people of Canada and China, advancing the Norman Bethune legacy in health care and education.

Who Was Dr. Norman Bethune?

#Bethune #Baiquien Canadian Alliance in #China

Dr. Norman Bethune, for those who don’t know, was a Canadian humanitarian physician who died in China 75+ years ago. His is a fascinating story. For more information, including many photos, please see my blogs: Bethune, pre-China and in China.

[For an overview of Bethune’s life, here is a National Film Board documentary, which I believe would be worthy of your time: Bethune by Donald Brittain, 1964.]

Bethune Treating a Civilian Boy

Notice how emaciated Bethune has become. Here he’s treating a civilian.

Dr. Bethune’s care extended not only to wounded Chinese soldiers, but also to civilians. (To wounded enemy Japanese as well!) In this picture we see him treating a child.

Given Bethune’s monumental accomplishments in a short period of time and his untimely death in China, it’s no wonder he is viewed as China’s #1 foreign hero to this day.


From a Boy to a Young Man

From a few years ago, here is a photo of a Chinese newspaper story about Zhen Yi. The article is about the Canadian doctors who are “helping the little angel of Tang County who broke his wings.”

BBCA in China, Zhen Yi

“Canadian doctors help the little angel of Tang County who broke his wings”



How far has Zhen Yi come? I don’t know the answer to that question other than “quite a ways.” My understanding is that he will need more surgeries and much continued support to help him along in his healing.




More Information about the BBQCA

BBCA in China, Dr. Stewart with Zhen Yi, his parents and doctors

April 2014, Zhen Yi with his parents, Dr. Grant Stewart of the BBCA and part of the Chinese medical team.In October 2014, I travelled in China with the BBCA. We were in Shijiazhuang at what happened to be the same time as Zhen Yi undergoing yet another surgery. The picture shows some of the group members’ visit.

BBCA with Zhen Yi in Oct 2014, Bethune International Peace Hospital, Shijiazhuang, PRC

Zhen Yi in Oct 2014, Bethune International Peace Hospital, Shijiazhuang, PRCSome of the physicians go to China for visits “in between” group visits. On a number of occasions, such has been the case with Dr. Stewart.

For anyone wishing to know more about the Bethune Baiqiuen Canadian Alliance, I invite you to visit these websites. You may find the many photos of special interest. Just click on the following links:

BBCA official website

BBCA YouTube

October 2014 BBCA China Trip Report (or click on this map photo of our tour, “Retracing the Footsteps of Dr. Norman Bethune”)

BBCA Oct. 2014 China Travels Map

BBCA October 2014 travels, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Bethune’s death in China


Expressly Photos:

1. Pinterest, BBCA

2. Flickr BBCA:

In Closing

If you would care to leave a comment on the video “Zhen Yi and the Bethune Baiqiuen Canadian Alliance” or on this blog post, I warmly invite you to do so below! Also, if you will, please share the video and this blog. Thanks! 谢谢。









About the Author:

Ramona McKean is creating a "Bridge of Light" (aka “a Bridge of the Heart”) to promote cross-cultural appreciation and awareness. An author and speaker, she lives in Victoria, BC, Canada.


  1. Clarke May 26, 2015 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Great post Ramona! The BBCA is doing some wonderful work. Zhen Yi is such a brave young man. It would be really nice to know how he is doing from time-to-time. So good of you to be sharing this story.

    • Ramona May 26, 2015 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Clarke,
      So good of you to write. Yes, Zhen Yi is a courageous soul and an inspiring young man. He takes nothing for granted and considers himself fortunate, which he is, all considered. I would like to share good-news updates from time to time. I hope there will be much good news for him!
      🙂 Ramona

  2. Songhe May 28, 2015 at 5:32 am - Reply

    Hi Ramona,
    I am sure one day Zhen Yi’s wings will be well repaired by BBCA people and he will fly high as others. More important, his life must be enriched by the care and love BBCA people have given, and I am confident that he will spread the love to those who need it.

    Thanks for sharing this encouraging story.


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