Home in toilet: Poor Chinese migrant worker family of prosperous Guangzhou City have lived in tiny public toilet for years

Updated:Mon, Nov 5, 2012 21:27 PM   By Bernd Chang

Snail house,Home in toilet

A man going to piss is surprised to see a family have meals in the public toilet. The public toilet is the place Wang Xuannan and her husband work as city sanitary worker and also where the migrant family have meals, rest, study, watch TV and sleep. They have lived in the snail house for 9 years since 2004.

A Chinese migrant worker couple working as city sanitation workers in Guangzhou City have lived with their son in the public toilet for 9 years, which they clean everyday. The reason is simply to save money and that their child is able to attend public school.
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Toilet is a dirty place in everyone's eyes. It is hard to imagine that poeple could have their three meals in toilet. But in China, especially in metropolic cities like Guangzhou, where property price has rocketed into skyhigh and well above the average income of migrant workers, it truly happens that a Chinese couple and their little son treat a tiny public toilet as their home where they work, have meals, rest, bath, and sleep. In addition, they do not accomodate themselves there for short period, they have lived there for 9 years since 2004. The purpose to live in the toilet snail house is simple: save money and that their son is allowed to attend public school without paying extra charges as migrant child who has no permanant residence in Guangzhou.

Snail house in the tiny public toilet

The public toilet is located in downtown of Guangzhou, capital city of prosperous Guangdong Province. Like most of the public toilets in Guangzhou where land is scarce, this toilet is a shabby one. The passageway is too narrow for two people to walk in shoulder to shoulder. Standing in the middle of the passageway, left is the two-story WC, the first floor is for women and the second for men. At the end of the passageway is the home for Wang Xuanna and her family. The snail house is about 2 square meters large and has two tiny rooms without door. The "hall" is where they have meals and watch TV, and the room opposite to it is the kitchen where two people can not stand together. At the gate there is a ladder helping them to go up to a loft where they sleep and the son does homework.

From boss of department store to city sanitary workers

Liao Xiaoming and his wife Wang Xuanna are both 33 years old this year and they are both residents of Guangdong Province but comes from different cities. Liao Xiaoming comes from Maoming and Wang Xuanna from Chaozhou. They married had a 13 years old son A Hao. They had run a small department store in Guangzhou. In 2004 they heard that migrant city sanitation worker can send their children to public school in Guangzhou without paying extra charges (借读费). At that time, for children whose Hukou or permanent residence was not registered in Guangzhou, the extra charges to tuition in public school for "compulsory education" were about 80 to 100 thousand RMB, which were unthinkable for the migrant family. Before the time their son lived with his grandparents in hundred miles away as a left-behind child. In order that their son can stay with them and attend much better education in Guangzhou than in their rural countryside, Liao Xiaoming and Wang Xuanna decided to give up their small business and both applied to work as city sanitary workers.

"if not for the education of A Hao, we would never clean the WC in Guangzhou," Liao Xiaoming told a reporter from local metropolis daily.


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