Modest New Year wishes by countryside children

By Cai Minqiang and Li Jingrong
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 8, 2018
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January bears the coldest days in Liaoning province, northeast China. Early in the morning, smoke can be seen curling upwards from kitchen chimneys in the Biangou Village, Yangmuchuan Town of Kuandian Manchu Autonomous County, Dandong City.

The photo shows the entrance of the Biangou Primary School in Yangmuchuan Town of Kuandian Manchu Autonomous County, Dandong City, Liaoning province. There are 29 students in grades one to three as well as a pre-school grade. [Photo by Cai Minqiang/]

The small village is surrounded by mountains. Villagers here mostly make a living by farming or working as seasonal laborers in cities and towns far away.

After breakfast, some children carrying their schoolbags wait on the roadside for the school bus to pick them up, and some choose to go to school on foot.

The Biangou Primary School has only four classrooms, each containing a stove made of bricks for students and teachers to keep warm. Students' parents take turns on duty to light a fire in the morning and put it out after school, while students are in turn responsible for adding firewood to the stove during breaks between classes.

Morning reading starts at half past seven. There are 29 students and seven teachers in the school, from first-to-third grades and a pre-school grade. Some children have even never been out of the village since they were born.

Yuan Qingjie, headmaster of the school, said that the school houses were built more than 40 years ago. "There used to be two rows of buildings, with one row for the students of grades four to six. As the old houses have fallen into disrepair over the years, these students have been transferred to the town school already," Yuan said.

In addition to school work, many children have to do housework in their spare time.

Six-year-old Hu Yuhang lives with his 12-year-old sister. The boy's ears suffered from frostbite this winter and he has asked for leave at home. From a young age, they look after each other and the sister can even make fried pancakes rolled up with egg fillings for her brother.

Their father was injured in a traffic accident a few years ago, and currently suffers from muscle atrophy and cannot do heavy work. Their grandmother has also been ill in bed for many years.

The mother is proud of her children, saying that they are well-behaved. "My daughter studies well and is good at singing and dancing. She only has five-yuan pocket money each week, and she can't afford to buy anything but school things," she said.

Recently, a bus full of books, daily necessities and school items donated by personalities from various circles arrived at the school, bringing timely help to the students and teachers.

The students are very happy with the donations. For these poor, simple children, even a lollipop, a picture book, and a magic cube can get them excited for quite a while.

Speaking of their wishes for the new year, the children hope they can have beautiful toys, clothes, shoes, and most importantly, the reunion of their families.

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