Across China: Social workers care for rural China's left-behind children
SHIJIAZHUANG, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Unlike most of his peers who landed jobs in big cities after graduation, 25-year-old Wang Weixiong went to the countryside where he has since become something of a celebrity in Heiyagou Village in north China's Hebei Province.
Heiyagou Village is so off the radar that many Chinese are unaware of its existence. There are 47 left-behind elderly people and 10 left-behind children in the village, which is home to some 1,000 residents.
As a social worker, Wang provides support to children, the elderly and women left behind in the countryside by their parents, adult children or husbands who migrated to cities for better job opportunities, covering education, psychological counseling, survival skills and other fields.
"Take the left-behind children as an example. We offer personal safety training for children under the guardianship of elderly grandparents, and set up a volunteer team to take care of them," Wang said. "For those children who have difficulties in their studies, we help them develop good learning habits."
Wang mobilized various social resources to make life in the village a little easier for vulnerable kids. He organized college students to help rural children with their lessons during holidays and teach them about fire and water safety.
According to statistics from China's Ministry of Civil Affairs, by the end of August 2018, there were 6.97 million left-behind children in the country's rural areas, though the number was down 22.7 percent from 9.02 million in 2016.
"Loneliness, scarcity of entertainment choices, strained parent-child relationships and learning difficulties are among a number of problems facing the left-behind elderly, children and women in deep mountains," said Dong Wei from the Shanhe Social Work Development Center, a non-governmental organization in the city of Baoding, Hebei Province.
Although the government encourages professional social welfare organizations to provide care for left-behind elderly, kids and women in rural areas through government purchase of services, there are a limited number of such institutions, said Mu Wei, director general of the center, adding that few social workers are willing to work in remote villages due to the tough life and modest income.
To establish a long-term mechanism, some public-spirited children and women in Heiyagou Village have formed two volunteer teams to help with the work of local social workers.
Nine-year-old Feng Shucan is one of them. Her parents left their hometown for Beijing to seek better jobs only one year after she was born. Feng has long been taken care of by her grandparents.
Every time social workers visited her, she felt touched and curious. She and her friends set up a volunteer team last year with the help of local social workers. Every festival, they make handcrafts and perform for the lonely seniors in the village.
"Helping others makes me feel happy, and when we stick together, no one feels lonely," Feng said. Enditem