Feature: Youngest Chinese evacuee's bumpy road to home from Libya

08:43, March 01, 2011      

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A cabin door was opened when a chartered cruise liner arrived at Valletta, capital of Malta, Saturday and everyone at the doorway was greeted by the special aroma of a newly-born baby.

A three-week-old boy was asleep in his mother's arms, not aware of what's happening around him.

The youngest evacuee from unrest-torn Libya was born in northeast Libya. His father Zhou Kai, a translator at the Libyan branch of a Chinese construction company, named the boy Yixuan, meaning virtue and grandeur.

However, the joy and excitement brought about by the birth of his first child soon gave way to rising concern as the situation deteriorated across the North African country.

With their residence far from the company's base, the young father began to worry about the safety of the boy and the mother.

To his relief, the company decided to move the family to the company's base on Feb. 17 when things became uncontrollable as protests against Muammar Gaddafi's rule erupted in the eastern part of the country.

The Zhous were given the most secure and quiet apartment at the company base. However, two days later, the company was forced to abandon the base as looting began to spread.

All the 935 Chinese employees would be moving to a desert zone on foot, a mission impossible for the Zhous and their two-week-old baby.

The family then moved into the house of Kgleli Shahei, a local employee of the company, where they lived in relative tranquility for days.

Hope finally descended as the company learned that a chartered ship would evacuate the Chinese nationals to Malta, where they will be able to board planes for home.

Several freight wagons were arranged to take all the Chinese at the company to Benghazi port. Shahei drove Zhou's family there with a small car, which is less jolting and warmer.

At Benghazi, the family met a port service man, who provided shelter for them as it was drizzling and cold. He also managed to find milk power and baby diapers for the boy.

When the ship finally docked at Valletta on Saturday, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Keyuan came to their cabin, received by the thankful father as baby Yixuan was in sleep, sweet and peaceful.

The ambassador's wife Zhang Shufeng presented a birth certificate to the 21-day-old boy, which is necessary for his travel. They also brought milk power, nursing bottles and diapers.

"It's in the Chinese people's blood to help those in need. Yixuan is a child to the whole team during the exodus," said Ni Yongcao, deputy general manager of the company.

Source: Xinhua
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