Thursday, July 12, 2012

Be thankful, Westerners

March 3rd, Wuhan, China. Caidian Central Elementary School teacher Guo Bingxian is arranging bricks for the children to cross the river. The bridge to Yaocao River was destroyed by a flood in 2008, and nobody has thought to repair it. More than 300 children must cross the river like this to go to school.

September 15th, Changsha, China, 5 a.m. Five-year-old Mao Tun is sleeping in a tricycle. His mother, who is a city sanitation worker, is sweeping nearby. Like Mao Tun, China has 1.2 million children who come with their parents to cities in search of work.

September 1st, Beijing. Cui Ying, from Yanan, Shanxi, is with her husband and child, selling cut paper designs in front of a supermarket. Her husband and child are both diagnosed with a bone disorder, and the family came to Beijing in May to see a doctor. Cutting paper is Cui Ying’s skill, and the family’s only income source. One design sells for 10 to 100 RMB, but sometimes, she couldn’t sell a single one.

December 19th, a garbage dump on the outskirts of Guiyang City. A family from a remote mountain village is tending to a fire. As the recycling industry grows, many realize that garbage is valuable. Therefore many take their families to live in a garbage dump, find the reusable items in the dump, and sell to recycling departments. Each person can make almost 1000 RMB every month.

March 17th, Wuhan, a man is kneeling to the woman inside the cab, begging her to buy a newspaper. This man lives in Wuhan Danshuichi, his parents are long divorced and he has a mental disorder. He has always supported himself by selling newspapers.

August 30th, Hunan Changsha. An art major graduate of Changsha University, Yuan Chengxuing is working for a moving company. He’s graduated for 2 years, and this is his 7th job. He gets paid 1500 RMB per month. Two other university graduates hired by the company left after working for half an hour, but Yuan didn’t. He said he’d rather “eat bitterness” [endure hardship] than depend on his parents.

May 26th, Jiangxi Shangrao, 85-year-old Deng Yidong used 67 years to finish paying off his father’s old debt. In 1942, Deng’s father was killed by the KMT, leaving behind more than 10,000 RMB of debt. Deng worked very hard trying to pay off the debt, but was hindered by the Cultural Revolution and natural disasters. After 67 years, he finally paid back all of the 106 villagers who were his father’s creditors.

September 22nd, Hunan Jizhuang Village. Yang Yunhua constructed a “breathing machine” from washing machine pipes and a bicycle to keep her severely ill daughter alive. China has already introduced collaborative medical insurance in the rural areas, but it’s not enough to cover a ventilator. Helpless, Yang’s family has decided to find ways of treating her daughter themselves.

March 22nd, Beijing, a couple is receiving dialysis in a “self-help” dialysis room. A group of people from Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, and various other places who have kidney conditions, but cannot afford the hospitals’ dialysis fees, organized and built a “self-help” dialysis room, and signed an agreement. They know that this is illegal, but facing the high fees, they choose to break the law. They say, “Our principle is to survive.”