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China Today:
The Mothers Who Are slaves

23 May 2012

For supporting their families, some mothers in Henan Province have to look for work in the fields that are traditionally dominated by strong men.

This mother carries a heavy load of construction materials in order to earn some money to feed her family and send her offspring to school.

After finished the hard labour, the workers, including the mothers and the old men, may or may not get paid at the amount or at the time as they were promised. Instead they have to wait or beg for their rightful rewards.

This is one of the village schools in Henan Province where the kids of the slavery mothers receive some basic education. (河南省洛阳市嵩县艾力希望小学)

This is one of the teachers in the school. Liu Huahau has worked there full time for over twenty years but is still a casual with no holiday pay, no health care support and no Old Age security benefits. Apart from teaching, she also has to prepare lunches for the students

In her classroom, the age of her students ranges from 2.5 to around 10-year old. During the noon snap, often she needs to hold the youngest, who seems yet to learn how to pee without wetting his pants, in her arms to prevent him from crying for mummy.


These are two arias from one of Yang Feifei's classic opera tragedy drama: The Mother Who Is A Slave

The opera is based on a short story by Chinese writer Rou Shi (柔石) in same title, which tells an incident occurred during the time under Chiang Kai-Shek's corrupted rule. A young mother from a poor village was forced to be rented to an heirless landlord as a child-bearing tool in order to raise medical fees for her sick child. Three years later, she left her new-born which broke her heart, and when she returned home, she discovered her older child had already died of illness.

The arias sung by Yang Feifei, one of Chinas three tragedy opera queens, articulates how the mother painfully misses her old child left at home, and then on the way home how agonizingly misses her young baby left in the landlord's household amid her excitement over the prospect of reuniting with her sick kid.

Rou Shi is one of five leftist writers who were arrested and subsequently killed in Shanghai by the Nationalist government in 1931 for the crime of promoting the idea of Getting-Rich-Together.

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