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Two Mothers And A Baby with Pneumonia

23 April 2010

Some Women's rights advocates in the West may consider using this cozy illustration to push their governments to allow mothers breastfeeding their babies in office and in front of their clients. Surely, China is, and especially was during the first 30 years after the establishment of the "New China", one of the countries in the world most committed to achieving goals of gender equality through government legislation and public education. However, what shows in the picture has nothing to do with women's rights. In fact, the nurse doing the breastfeeding is not even the mother of the baby. She is, as already mentioned, a nurse, and an ethnic Han Chinese nurse named Zhang Shuying (张淑英) working at the Healthy and Happy Hospital (康乐医院) in Qinghai Province (青海省). The ethnic Tibetan Chinese woman named Gengque Wangmao (更确旺毛) lying on the bed is the genuine mother of the baby drinking nurse' milk.

Gengque suffered head and spine injuries in the earthquake and could not produce milk for her four-month old who caught pneumonia and refused to drink milk made from milk powder. For a while the hospital staff were scratching their heads and trying to figure out what to do with this stubborn little patient. It was at that moment Zhang entered the scene. Seeing the sick and hungry baby keep crying, Zhang, a new mother with a five-month old baby of her own, held this tiny poor patient in her arms and began to breast feed her. The baby immediately calmed down, concentrating on drinking while holding Zhang's finger tight. Since then, Zhang kept feeding Gengque's baby during the day and provided breast milk to her own child at night.

The medical conditions of the mother and the baby are getting better. Gengque told the nurse that she wished Zhang could keep in touch with her baby and watch her growing up.

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China in Mourning

Tiananmen Square on 21 April, 2010. The flag was at half mask to mourn the 2000 plus lives lost to the Qinghai Earthquake. In the chilly and winding weather condition, hundreds people lingered or passed through this biggest paved open space in the world stood still to observe a minute of collective silence with the entire nation at 10am when the whistles and horns sounded in every city in China.

(Source of info and photo: 陶希夷, 吕雪莉- 新华社)

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