Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A Migrant Worker's Story

Migrant worker Fan Yusu chronicled her life in a 7,000 character essay
Fan Yusu has had a hard life as a migrant worker and single mother in Beijing.

She left her village in Hubei province and did odd jobs in the Chinese capital as a domestic helper, and went home in a rented 80 square foot flat without running water and raising two daughters.

The 44-year-old penned her experiences in an autobiographical essay entitled, I am Fan Yusu and posted it on a social media literary site on Monday last week.

Within 24 hours, the essay was shared more than 100,000 times and had more than 20,000 comments.

The 7,000 character essay chronicles her experiences over the last 30 years, detailing how a rural woman's life was shaped by massive social and economic change. Her story also raises the issues of the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the urban-rural divide, and the violent seizure of farmland to make way for development.

Fan is originally from Xiangyang, a village in Hubei, and began working as a teacher in the village school when she was 12.

When she grew older, she tired of village life and decided to move to Beijing. There she married and had two daughters, but her husband was often drunk and beat her. She couldn't take it anymore and went back to her village, but her brothers would not accept her, because "a married daughter is no longer a member of her parents' family".

So she returned to Beijing, and leaving her daughters in the care of a nursery, she worked as a nanny in a wealthy home.

The tycoon owner had bought the property for his mistress and had borne him two illegitimate children, and Fan looked after a three-month-old girl.

"The mistress lived like a concubine in an imperial court," Fan wrote. "She must please her master without dignity; and lower herself to beg for food."

Fan also wrote about her pain of leaving her own children: "I often had to wake up at midnight to look after the baby girl... and at those moments I couldn't help but miss my own daughters. I often cried. Luckily it was usually midnight and nobody noticed."

She also wrote of her 81-year-old mother, who went to the local government to protest against the seizure of land without sufficient compensation. Her arm was dislocated in the scuffle with officials, but she felt fortunate because younger protesters suffered worse injuries.

In an interview with Beijing Youth Daily, Fan said she was not a writer, and made a living by "working as a coolie". But she said she had a story to tell.

"If by living one means eating, simple people like me can survive by eating sweet potatoes," she wrote. "But what is the meaning of living without thinking of one's soul? You've got to have a dream. Like the traveller who sees light far ahead, you feel happy."

Fan was brave to even upload her story online and now everyone has a good idea of what she has gone through in her first-person account. We need to hear about more of these stories to have a better understanding of not only what migrant workers are going through, but every other person in China -- to have a more comprehensive picture of the people who live in the country, and learn about their struggles and dreams.

1 comment:

  1. let see how long before the public safety bureau invite her for tea...