Jonathan Lee wrote a song Hope for his children. It is sung in the song: “They are my hope,let me have strength for continuing my effort,they are the hope of the future,all the children are equal,I wish I could give her a place like heaven.” But the children in my picture have a quite different fate.
Among the hundreds of beggars coming from Minxian County (??) of Gansu Province, the pillar and majority is children. There are several famous "beggar villages" in Minxian County. Among them the Xiaozhai Village (???), Hulong Village (???) are most wellknown in China. Almost every adult in the beggar villages has ever been beggar.
After long period of contact with the beggars,I find that only half of the child beggars are begging with their parents,the other half, rented by adult beggars and used as tools for making money,are professional beggars.
The number of Minxian beggars in Shenyang,capital of northeastern China’s Liaoning Province,was once more than 100.Some of them are members of a single family: grandparents,parents and children; Some are relatives.From spring to winter,their figures are always in the sight. Especially the child beggars on the streets,who should have sit in the classroom,are brought by adults to the remote city to kneel down begging money. What is more serious,many child beggars were rented at the price of 300 RMB per month. But the boss demanded that the child beggar should hand in 110 RMB per day, otherwise the child would not be given the meal, and very likely, would be whipped. Many leased child beggars are black and blue on the body.The child beggars usually start to “work” at 7am, and “get off duty” at 10pm. If the task is not complished, they will have to “work” even longer. It is a gnawing pain to see that some child beggars wander on the streets for 15 hours a day.
The little child beggars have to shuttle back and forth among the running cars and trucks no matter it is in hot summer or in frozen winter. They are often chided, insulted and beaten. When begging, they have to keep vigilant watching around. At any sight of the police, they will run away as fast as they can, regardless of the dangers caused by the running autos.It is not seldom that child beggars are knocked down, rolled over to death by cars. Some beggars can not endure the insult and beat by their parents or boss and flee away and lose contact. Some lost children could be abducted and sold to other provinces. Due to hundreds or even thousands of kneel per day, it is not surprising that many child beggars have wounds and scabs on the kneels.
It is a bitter sight that the naïve and pure children, who should have enjoyed the happy life in the sun, played games with their parents, shoulder the burden unproportionate to their age, kneeling down to beg money from foreign persons without any dignity. The happy childhood that they deserve is deprived in this way. They still have no notion of money, but the experience of begging has already been deeply ingrained on their memory.
Author of this article and pictures: Tian Weitao.
Translated by Bernd Chang.