liveblogging jiangsu weishi

March 15th, 2008

lzh and I are watching a programme on Jiangsu Satellite TV right now about some kids in Guizhou who, when they’re not in school, help their grandparents out on the farm.

Now, we’re not talking anything equivalent to Kiwi kids helping out their parents on the weekends or in holidays, doing jobs their parents have given them based on their appropriateness to their kids’ ages and physical abilities. What we’re watching is not even remotely comparable to me, as a kid growing up in Wellington, helping Dad out in the garden or mowing lawns.

No, these kids were doing full-on farm work, the old-fashioned, unmechanized way, using adult-sized tools to do adult-sized tasks on an adult-sized scale.

“But helping their grandparents?” you ask. Yup. Their parents are away in the cities doing whatever work they can find there. It’s a bitter life, but that way they can earn more money to put their kids through school, and, God-willing, even into university or at least some form of tertiary education, and thence into a life less bitter and perhaps even approaching prosperous, or at least comfortable.

They interviewed one seven year old who’d been doing farm work outside of school hours since he was four. He’d get home from school and put in three or four hours’ work on his family’s fields. His hands were so rough and calloused they would not look out of place at the end of a 60-year old peasant’s arms, but he was only seven. Seven, and had already been doing what amounts to full-time farm work the old-fashioned, unmechanized way for three years on top of going to school. When the reporter asked him why he was still working even though his hands hurt so much, he could only stare at the ground with a look of profound emotional pain in his eyes.

lzh commented that if these kids have never left their mountain- and cloud-bound homes, they don’t know what they’re missing out on and probably are quite content with their lives. Looking in that kids eyes told me, no, he might not know the creature-comforts even poor city kids enjoy, but he knows his life is bitter, hard and painful.

Then she said, well, if these rich city folk would just spread their wealth around a bit…. Yeah, but China’s a long, long way from that kind of society, unfortunately. Taking tentative steps in that direction, especially in central government policy, but still….

2 Responses to “liveblogging jiangsu weishi”

  1. nick Says:

    Heart wrenching stuff. Still I can sleep well at night knowing that good number of people here in Suzhou can afford to drive Porsche and BMW.

  2. wangbo Says:

    Yeah, Porsches for the people!