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20% of Chinese children live in villages without their parents

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More than sixty-one million, or around 20%, of the children in China live in rural villages without their parents. Most of these children belong to peasants who have fled rural areas in recent years in order to find work in China’s rapidly growing urban areas.

The cheap labor of these migrants has fueled China’s economy for over three decades. However, most of the children can’t live in the city with their parents due to the high living costs and the often inhumanely long hours that most Chinese workers spend at work. Because of this, many of the migrants send their children to live with elderly relatives that still live in rural areas.

One letter that has become viral on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter perfectly reflects the growing angst in China over “left-behind children”. The letter was left on the door of a barbershop in the southern city of Zhuzhou. The letter reads:

“Dear customers, I got a call from my daughter yesterday. I have been away from her so long, she doesn’t even know how to call me ‘Daddy’ anymore . . . . I beg you for a week off to visit my family.”

Wu Hongwei, the barber who posted the note, and his wife had left their daughter with her grandparents in a remote village when she was 9 months old. They hoped that their daily phone calls would be enough to keep them close to their daughter despite 340-mile distance between them. However, after two years, they realized they were complete strangers to her.

This is just one sad example of a horrible trend in China today. Families have to be torn apart so that they can afford to live. Millions of children are forced to grow up without their parents.

Read me about the story here.

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