I will give eggs to my teacher

The little Qiuyu with her grandparents in their leaking house
The little Qiuyu with her grandparents in their leaking house

“What are you going to do with the chicks when they grow up?”
“I will sell them for cash.”
“Why do you need cash?”
“To pay for textbooks.”
“What else?”
“I will give the eggs to teacher Dong to eat.”

Her mother ran away from home. Her father seldom goes home. Her grandfather is handicapped. Grandma is mild dementia. Fortunately, her teacher takes her home and takes care of her.

February 15 is the first day of registration of city’s elementary schools. Pengjiabai Elementary school (彭家坝小学) of Dongjia town (董家镇), Fengdu county (丰都县), Sichuan province (四川省) is two hundred kilometers away from the main city. The 26 years old volunteer teacher Ms. Dong Minzhi (董□岐) was looking forward to her for the whole morning. She, the seven years old Huang Qiuyu (黄秋钰) finally arrived after walking in the mountains for almost an hour.

Ms. Dong was pleased when she saw her arrival. She help the girl register. But she worried that she would not be able to let her stay at her home since she herself was four month pregnant. Ms. Dong didn’t know that this speechless little Qiuyu had quietly made a decision. This decision is a painful one.

A family of three with annual income 1500 yuan (225 US$)

The little Qiuyu with her grandparents in their leaking house

According to cqnews in Chongqing, the girl is seven years old and she lives at Group 6, Guanshengchang village (关圣场村), Dongjia town, Fengdu county. When the reporter met her on February 15, she had a dusty red face and wear off-fit thin winter clothes, two thin pants, and was shaking in the early spring cold windy air.

Her home is a two-story building made of stones. The second floor is completely made of wood and shakes when people walk. She sleeps with grandma. The room has a one square meter window which is covered by torn curtain which is swaying in the wind. When wind enters the room, it is chilly cold.

The bed is covered with straw and a piece of cold bamboo mat. A thin sheet of blanket is not covered by quilt. It is full of grease. The blanket is very light. One can see many huge leaks on the wall and ceiling everywhere. When she and her grandma sleep with their clothes on at night, they are sometimes waken by the cold air. The little Qiuyu said: “When it rains at night, my grandma and I have to stand up here and there.”

The 62 years old grandpa Huang Zemo (黄泽模) said with tear that he hadn’t bought her a new cloth for the past six years because they are so poor. All her clothes are donations from lovely people. “She has wear this cloth since before the new year for at least a month.” he cried. They only have two such clothes for her to change.

The little Qiuyu was born in May 2004. Her parents didn’t get married. At that time, her father was in jail for stealing a cattle. After a half year, her mother couldn’t stand for such a poor condition and ran away. There is no any information of her since then. The little Qiuyu lives with her grandparents after her mother left. After her father stepped out jail, he went to Shanghai for work and comes home once a year. He never sent money home.

Grandpa said, that their income depends on the crops In their mountain land. It is about 1500 yuan. Life is very tough. It is even more challenge to raise the granddaughter as they are becoming older and older. Whenever she see the mothers of children of her age united at home, the little Qiuyu leans to the broken door threshold and stares the winding road in front while she bit her lips.

Her father seldom comes home and he always beat her

The journalist asked her whether she missed mom. The little Qiuyu started to wonder with a little expect. She first startled and then raised her head with her eye on the far end. Finally she lowered her head and said “Yes, but …”

Without mother, little Qiuyu put her hope on her father. She wish to receive his care. But, her grandpa said, her father consider her as a burden. When he is introduced women for matching, they always deny him after they found out that he had a daughter.

Before the Chinese new year, little Qiuyu’s father came home. When she saw him in a far distance, she was very happy and thought he would bring delicious food for her. However, what she received was her father’s scolding. Her grandma said with sob: her son stayed home for about 20 days and he beat Qiuyu at least five times. For any reason that he was unhappy, he grabbed Qiuyu and beat her.

Little Qiuyu didn’t get any care and warm arm from her father. She said, I don’t want him back because “he always beat me when he comes.”

The girl lives at teacher’s home

The little Huang Qiuyu with her lovely teacher Ms. Dong Minzhi
The little Qiuyu with her lovely teacher Ms. Dong Minzhi

Pengjiabai Elementary school situates at the border of Dongjia town of Fengdu County (丰都县董家镇) and Xinli Town of Zhongxian County (忠县新立镇). The school size is small: there are only 8 classes and 298 students. Ninety percent of the children are unattended children. There are a dozen teachers. Ms. Dong Minzhi is one of them.

Ms. Dong Minzhi, born in the 1980s, graduated from Chongqing Normal University (重庆师范大学). She is from a doctor’s family and is in a very good condition locally. After graduation, she volunteered to teach at Pengjiaba Elementary School. According to contract, she should finish after three years. But this is already the fourth year.

At such a school, the teachers work more like nursemaid. She and her husband Chen Fei (陈飞), also a teacher, rent a place about 50 meters away from school and thirteen unattended children live with them.

Laundry, preparing firewood, cooking, homework help, all these things have to be done by the couple. These two rural teachers supported a “home” for a group of children who are far away from their parents.

Last September, Teacher Dong started teaching a new class of first grade. Among the children, Huang Qiuyu appeared to be very special. “I noticed that other children didn’t want to play with her. They even kept a distance from her seat.” Taking Qiuyu to her own home, Teacher Dong gave her a bashe. She used two buckets of water. The smell made Teacher Dong skip diner that evening. At night, Teacher Dong cried: “A child without mother is like a grass. Indeed, it is true.”

Since October that year, Huang Qiuyu lived with Teacher Dong. The little Qiuyu started having a happy life. The other twelve children’s parents would pay their children’s living cost monthly. But little Qiuyu doesn’t have money. Teacher Dong takes care of her as well as the other children. She helps her bathe. If elder children have off-size clothes, she would keep them for Qiuyu. Every lunch and diner, there was meat.

Since there are too many children living there, Teacher Dong’s mother-in-law come from Zhongxian to help them. She likes Qiuyu the most. “Sometimes after bathe, she takes the clothes to wash herself before I have a chance.”

“My Gosh, she is so little, shorter than the laundry trough.” Dong’s mother-in-law said, little Qiuyu would step on a bench to wash her clothes. They feel sorry for her. The other children would go out to play or watch TV after diner. Only little Qiuyu would stay with the old woman in the kitchen. “She could add wood and prepare wood.”

Catch worm to raise chickens and give teacher the eggs

The little Qiuyu with her grandparents in their leaking house

The little Qiuyu had three months of happy life at Teacher Dong’s home until the last winter break. She found Teacher Dong’s secret: Dong is pregnant.

Teacher Dong’s parents worry about their daughter. They came to Pengjiaba Elementary School and witnessed the poor condition there. Since then, they call their daughter almost everyday and ask her about her nutrition. Little Qiuyu heard over their conversation.

Even though Teacher Dong didn’t tell the children about her four month pregnancy, she indeed worried. “I don’t worry about the other children because they can find relatives to help. But I do worry about Huang Qiuyu.” Qiuyu’s grandpa is handicapped and her grandma has mild dementia. Without Teacher Dong, how could little Qiuyu live?

What Teacher Dong didn’t know was that Qiuyu had her plan too. Grandpa sold the plastic bottles that she collected. Using the money, she bought 20 chicks at the price 1.5 yuan each.

During the winter break, Qiuyu had been taking care of the chicks. “She moved every stone nearby”, the neighbor Du Changying (杜昌英) said. QIuyu held a bottle to look for earthworms. She took the earthworm to her chicks. When her neighbors have leftover, she pick it up and fed her chicks.

One of her classmate said that he saw Qiuyu pick up rice that her classmates dropped and then put into a box. When asked what she would do, she just gave a mystic smile.

Considering that the chicken can lay eggs after a half year since she bought them before the Chinese new year. By that time, Teacher Don’t should have given birth and taken maternity leave and returned to the school. She told grandpa her plan: The eggs will be given to teacher. In the future, she will sell the chicken to pay her tuition.

Qiuyu doesn’t talk much and doesn’t want to start conversation. I asked her: “When chicks grow up, what are you going to do with them?” “I will sell them to make money.” “Why do you want to make money?” “Pay my tuition.” “What else?” “Give Teacher Dong eggs.”

Teacher Dong sometimes goes on internet. She knew that her and Qiuyu’s story has been posted on the internet. Facing warm praises from netizens, she simply said: “I only did what I can do.”

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