(all children in above picture have foreign passports)
The hard-working parents of left behind children migrate to the States to find better paying jobs. Foreign passports are distributed to children yet it is expressed that “Kids generally leave China aged 5, because their US passports are only valid for five years,” (Chinese Time).
Consequently LBC are then raised by grandparents or extended family who cannot provide the parental comfort the children desire. An illusion of comfort by the toys and other gifts sent from America is not enough. A child’s greatest hope is to join their parents in the States but it is important to examine the parents’ greatest hope, which is is for their child to effectively integrate into American society.
Accommodating this wish, some schools for left behind children teach English and Chinese to prepare them for their future in America.”Giving birth to a child in the States is a wonderful dream, but a very costly one too,” Song Jingwen states. It is expensive for maternity care but it is a privilege to be born in America since it grants one’s parents with an ability to emigrate to America later on and provides a bilingual education for the child that is given higher priority to enter good Chinese schools.
A 4 year old Chinese boy, Liu, was born in America and sent to China at 3 months. With a name of Eddie on his US passport, he is one of the LBC with foreign passports that were forced to live with a family member in China. Liu’s mom works long hours in America and is unable to take care of her child. Grandparents or relatives attempt to provide the child care before the child is able to go back to America and live with parents continuing their education at age 4 or 5. “But nice preschools and family care can’t replace the absence of parental interaction,” (CCTV reporter Lin Nan). In the kindergarten of interest in this CCTV article, 80% of students owned US passports.
Pitying the child left behind with a parent overseas, family tends to spoil the child and fail to provide them the parental attachments needed for healthy development. Emigration from poor villages to rich cities in America leaves the parent with no time to physically provide care for their child, but also leaves them with a justification for their actions. They believe the child is well fed, loved, and provided with a privileged life.
“These children all hold foreign passports, as their migrant worker parents have all gone to other countries － mostly the United States － to work.”
“US-China, two-way express. Pick up from airports, packages, children” reads a sign that illustrates the issue of the shipping children overseas.
China’s “Born in the USA” Frenzy – TIME http://content.time.com/time/world/article
Wang Haotian is twelve years old and one of two hundred left behind children living in a small village outside of Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. As GCV has been making its way through Mongolia, we have been connecting with multiple families with left behind children. Haotian’s story is particularly moving.
Haotian and his grandparents live in a small, one-bedroom house. Outside, they have the company of a guard dog, a mule, sheep and chickens. With no running water, the family survives on rainwater to drink and wash clothing.
We approached Haotian to ask him a few questions, and soon found that he is extremely shy and avoids eye contact. Later his grandmother explained that Haotian’s parents left to work when he was only ten months old. Nowadays he only gets to see his parents once a year. Haotian’s grandma encourages him to do well in school, but he is lonely and withdrawn. She believes this is causing his schoolwork to suffer. Haotian’s future was an emotional topic for both grandparents to discuss, and it is their hope that he will get a good education.
When we asked, Haotian couldn’t tell us what direction he wanted to go in after he finished school. We asked him what his biggest dream is, and he didn’t have an answer.
“To see the lives of LBC really brings your emotions into play,” GCV member Christine Labbe said after meeting Haotian and his family. “It makes you realize that there are real kids that need help. There are 58 million left behind children in China, but if we can help the 200 children in that village, I think that even makes a difference. That’s a lot of lives changed.”
This is one story of many. We hope to connect with and inspire many left behind children and their families on our journey through Mongolia. Stay tuned for more information to come!
*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.
After spending ten days in the Anhui Province, China working with left behind children (LBC), this serious issue and GCV’s call to action are alive as ever. Words cannot express my experiences during this trip. I witnessed a grandmother break down in tears describing her concerns for her two left behind grandchildren. An elementary student told me that her biggest hope in life is for the day when her parents come home. I attended a church service and could count the number of parents present on one hand. In many ways my heart was broken for these children; however, these chilling stories affirm why we started Global Children’s Vision.
All children desire to be loved and to have hope. Unfortunately, the absence of parents can often cloud these desires and make a child feel as though their future is bleak. I heard this firsthand from children who feel lonely and helpless.
One story during the trip especially moved me. Cheng and I went to the house of an elderly grandmother who was taking care of her two left behind grandchildren. The house consisted of two rooms with dirt floors. We waited for her to come home until it was completely dark outside because daylight is precious when you are a farmer in the fields. This grandmother committed to do backbreaking work in her late seventies to provide for her grandchildren. She was adamant about not asking her son (who emigrated to the city to work) for money, thus, forcing her to work long hours in her old age. Her sole focus was to ensure that there was food for her grandchildren to eat and for them to go to school. Immediately after the parents’ departure, she noticed significant differences in her granddaughter and grandson’s behavior and performance in school. The root of the issue was obvious to her, but she did not feel that it was her place to discipline the children since they are not her own. She broke down into tears describing the lack of communication between the children and parents. This ultimately led the children to extreme resentment towards their parents. Not only did the children have the burden of growing up without parents, but they also had no toys. She explained that there was no extra money for toys, so the children’s only entertainment was watching the cars drive by.
Global Children’s Vision is excited to provide the necessary tools to help mend these broken families. Together, here’s to empowering the future.
58 million is a number that is almost incomprehensible. This massive number reflects the amount of children in China that have been left behind by their parents. If that is only in one country, imagine how many Left Behind Children there are around the globe. With their parents off in the cities, the lives of many Left Behind Children in the rural countryside have become close to a nightmare.
Melinda Liu, the Bejing bureau chief for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, has dedicated research and writings to highlighting the serious outcomes faced by Left Behind Children in her article. She states, “Some become juvenile delinquents at an early age. Others are insecure and reclusive. Still others fall victim to sexual abuse. These left-behind kids grow up in rural villages without much contact with their parents, who work in China’s cities and often delegate child-rearing duties to grandparents or other relatives.”
In her article, Liu describes the heartbreaking separations between parents and children, and in some cases, a young child will go years without seeing his or her parents. These absences will inevitably cause disorder in the lives of many youngsters.
Global Children’s Vision had the exciting opportunity to host a booth at the 2013 North Shore Business Expo in Danvers, Massachusetts. The expo hosted over 100 exhibitors and more than 2,200 attendees. Prominent companies in today’s business world such as TD Bank, Verizon Wireless, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and The Boston Globe exhibited at the business show. The day was spent spreading awareness about Left Behind Children, sharing GCV’s mission, and networking with business professionals from around the Boston area. The GCV booth also featured a business card raffle, in which one lucky winner had the chance to take home a Nook.
Many attendees connected with GCV’s vision and were eager to learn more about our work. The expo was an excellent opportunity to get the word out about the issue and our organization. GCV hung with the best of the best in the business world and was proud to participate in the largest business expo north of Boston.
If you are looking for a way to see into the lives of the left behind children but are unable to make the long trek to China, luckily there is a documentary out that can give you just that. The Hong Kong documentary, “Children Left Behind,” provides a look into the lives of children who are living without their parents by their sides. It details the changes and difficulties that the left behind children go through while their parents are away, and also gives the kids a chance to speak about how they feel about their parents being gone. One thing that is very striking to see in this documentary is that though all of these children are experiencing the same thing, many of them react in very different ways. Some are very driven to succeed despite the absence of the parents, while others become downtrodden and unmotivated. The differences are intriguing, and it is interesting to see how these children handle their situation in such a variance of ways. Visit this link to look at the full documentary to learn about left behind children here.