Migrant workers gain respect in cities

By Jenny Wu
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, December 7, 2010
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Working high up on iron scaffolding. Inhaling the smelly fumes of welding machines. Eating simply and living in shabby temporary sheds. Migrant workers have had to endure a lot in exchange for the opportunity to work behind the frenetic transformation of Chinese cities.

They have had to tolerate their tainted clothes, wrinkled faces and messy hair, which separate them from urban residents. They have had to tolerate being mocked and sneered at. They have had to tolerate a mundane life of loneliness and homesickness, which abates only once a year and only after standing in long lines in the frosty winter to get a train ticket home.

"I have long worked as a migrant worker, often looked down upon by people,” said Wang Yaling, who works for Beijing Liujian Construction. "You can tell by the way they look at me – nobody would feel comfortable with that.”


The students from North China University of Technology declared Migrant Workers Day to honor and celebrate the worker. [China.org.cn]

Some students are trying to change all of that. On Sunday, students from various Beijing universities, including Peking, Tsinghua and Beijing Normal, declared the day Migrant Workers Day to honor and celebrate the workers. Safety Helmet, a trans-university group that campaigns against discrimination of migrant workers, organized and hosted a gala of singing, magic tricks and Peking opera at the Hot Spring Sports Center construction site in Haidian District.

"I hope everyday will be the day of Migrant Workers Day,” said Hu Ling, a goodwill ambassador of Safety Helmet. “I hope the love can pass on one by one so that the migrant workers can live happier lives day by day.”

Safety Helmet works with migrant workers by bringing them films and books and talking to them. Many have been touched by their generosity.


The migrant workers of Beijing Liujian Construction watch the program staged by students. [China.org.cn]

"This is the first time I have participated in the program,” Wang said. "Now I believe the public is starting to care for us, and I am greatly moved by the efforts.”

"I still remember a worker from Mount Taihang, who worked in Beijing and joined our program by sending us a poem saying, ‘May you remember there is a person in the north of the country who will always pray for you, quietly and with all my heart,” a student from Peking University told the crowd of workers.


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