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Photo Exhibition Focuses on Marginalized Migrant Workers
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A photo exhibition aimed at promoting better understanding and communication between migrant workers and urban residents was opened yesterday at Beijing's Capital Library.   

The exhibition, jointly organized by the Culture and Communication Center for Facilitators (CCCF), a Beijing-based non-governmental organization (NGO), Actionaid China Office, and Capital Library, is on until October 8, the last day of the National Day holidays. Admission is free.

Zhang Lanying, program director of Actionaid China Office, said at the opening ceremony that migrant workers have contributed a great deal to city construction, and should be given equal treatment as urban workers.

Nearly 90 photos, spanning over a period of about 10 years, were chosen from over 40,000 taken by two photographers who work for CCCF. Li Zhen, one of the photographers, told "We want to show you all the photos, but it's impossible. It took us one year to choose these photos. Each photo tells a story."

Sun Wenjuan is a migrant worker from a village in north China's Hebei Province. She was invited to speak at the exhibition and tell others of her experiences. She came to Beijing in May 2001 and was employed as a waitress in a holiday resort, working up to 10 or more hours a day. She was diagnosed with renal failure in February 2002, and underwent two kidney transplant operations, once in July 2002, the other in November. Both were unsuccessful. Today, dialysis treatments are keeping her alive until she can find a new kidney donor.

CCCF learned about her plight and decided to provide with free legal advice, which enabled her to obtain medical insurance cover. Sun said that her greatest wish is for government officials to come to the exhibition, and to give more care and support for migrant workers who sometimes cannot even afford basic medical services.

"Sun's case is just one of many. They're very familiar with the organization I work with, and we have become good friends," Li told "This photo exhibition is part of our campaign to promote a better understanding and communication between migrant workers and the social mainstream. We are conducting large-scale research into the impact of the city surge on those left behind in the rural areas, predominantly women and children. And we are strengthening cooperation with related funds and international NGOs," Li said.

Li Tao, the other photographer and founder of the project, said: "I was deeply moved with each picture that I took." Li Tao added that the stint has been tough --ten years and counting -- but "if you take this as your career, you will enjoy it." 

(Li Tao, founder of the project, is showing pictures at yesterday's opening ceremony.)

China has 120 million rural laborers working in cities and the figure is likely to reach 300 million by 2020. At least one-third of the migrant workers are women aged between 17 and 25. The work of migrant workers has translated into 16 percent of China's gross domestic product (GDP) growth over the past 20 years, according to a report released in June by the United Nation's Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) and the Institute of Sociology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The CCCF was established in 2003, a local NGO with a mission to safeguard labor rights and to promote understanding and communication between urban and rural areas. 

( by Staff Reporter Zhang Yunxing, September 27, 2006)

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