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Home for the Holidays

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“… I’m just thinking about making a bit more money here, then buy a house back home as soon as possible. Housing prices are too steep nowadays, still have to wait a few more years,” (Chinas Mack). Gao Changliang, a migrant worker, drove a taxi to provide money to his family. The mother stayed behind for the children but the family was fragmented. Living in the city is expensive. The city though provides the jobs the parents are looking for to earn money for their children to have a better quality of life. Gao Changliang and his family took an expensive high-speed train to be reunited with family for Chinese New Year. After the new year ends, the wife and children will go back to their hometown leaving the father behind to work in the city. 

Parents are doing what they think is right to provide a better life for their children. In the past few years the number of left behind children in China has doubled. A very common phrase that is heard in stories from LBC is they see their parents only once a year during the Chinese New Year Festival, which happily is tomorrow. It is now the time of the year we may rejoice in knowing that many children will be reunited with their parents for a joyful holiday celebration. We must also be aware that they lack the emotional support the rest of the calendar year.

Growing up in a household with no parents has significant psychological effects. The mental health of the child is a factor that we have to be aware of, and the parents also have to acknowledge when making the choice to work in the city. Working away provides food, clothing, and an education – a better future for the child. Or does it? 

1 in 7 children in one of the villages has migrant parents and live with their grandparents (tough times). The teachers say they need extra academic support. China’s strict residency laws prevent children from going to school out of their hometown. Professor Chengrong, academic and author, states “psychological and emotional problems are the most common,” (tough times). We can provide encouragement and support in their social life, emotional health, and education to the child left behind. Encouraging regular and meaningful communication between the parent and child is also a great need.

 

Sources:

http://www.chinasmack.com/2013/pictures/migrant-workers-buy-expensive-high-speed-train-tickets-home.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDxKaGPYFIY

 

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UNICEF on China’s Street Children (Video)

Left Behind: China’s Child Negligence Epidemic (LinkAsia: 12/7/12)

 

 

 

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Drownings, disappointing calls, and the pressure to do well.

Ping’an, a 3 years old boy, wandered in a water hole and drowned. His parents came back from work for the funeral and returned to work shortly after. The father tells people that his son died of a sickness and was quoted saying  “I don’t feel badly about it,” (wsj). There has been a startling increase in drownings of left behind children in China from neglect and lack of supervision. The statistics are devastating. 

The Jiang brothers’ parents work in a purse factory in Guangdong province. The high cost of transportation totaling near to their salaries leaves them with only enough to visit their children at the Chinese New Year. Opportunities to talk over the phone are composed of the children answering the parents’ questions and reciting school textbooks. “Kids in the countryside are not the same as those city children,” says Fan Renshu, principal of the village elementary school. “City children are too reliant on their parents. Rural kids are more independent. They are used to not having parents around,” (World Policy Institute).

Therefore, although a phone conversation is possible, the conversation does not fulfill the child’s emotional needs. The Chinese concept of face comes into play during phone calls. This is because it is to “loose face” when one displays a negative emotion and they are embarrassed or disgraced for not being able to handle the situation. In China it is not acceptable to get angry or upset. Obedience to authority, conformity, and self-control are the widely accepted values that prevent children and parents to have an honest emotional discussion over the phone regarding their absence.

In Xia Qing, left behind children walk up the mountain to Mao Cao Ping Primary School. 39 out of 75 students have migrant workers as parents. Their Chinese language teacher Yang Yuansong often comforts them by after they are contacted by their parents. Parents just say: ‘Behave, study hard, do well.’

Global Children’s Vision seeks to strengthen the quality of communication between children and parents. Wandering children that drown from neglect is unacceptable. Phone conversations that make the children either more upset or numb from lack of emotional response from their parents is unacceptable. GCV equips these children with the tools for more effective communication and emotional resiliency.

Sources

http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/summer2013/chinas-left-behind

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304173704579260900849637692?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304173704579260900849637692.html

 

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Diaries of Left-Behind Children

One of the largest migrations in human history, rural poor workers are traveling to cities where the jobs are. China’s economic boom is partly caused by an increase of migrant workers willing to work for low wages. The high costs of living and long work hours force parents to leave children to be raised with grandparents in the villages until they earn the money to take them to the city.

A young girl talks to her parents over the phone while they are away. She is the first to use the free phone at school. It is a difficult call to make. She cries saying, “I’m not used to chatting with them…usually I just answer their questions,” (Youtube). 

It is heart-breaking to hear the individual stories of children apart from their parents who are living in the city to work. A teacher at the end of the video implores the public to see that left-behind children are hard-working and independent. At the same time they lack the ability to trust others. 

A plea for time off was discovered on the door of Jianba hairdressers in the southern city of Zhuzhou. Hairdresser Wu Hongwe addressed the note to customers with the message, “I got a call from my daughter yesterday. I have been away from her so long, she doesn’t even know how to call me ‘Daddy’ any more… I beg you for a week off to visit my family,” (Wan).  Wu’s daughter Beibei has become accustomed to calling her parents Mum and Dad, with the mentality that they are just their names. With so much time and distance between the child and her parents, they have become strangers to her. “Mama” has no meaning. The countryside where she lives is a healthy environment and has a low cost of living unlike her parents’ city. She grew up with her native dialect and has a difficult time understanding her mother’s Chinese.

What hurts her parents the most is that their daughter does not know what it is like to have a mother. They have set a goal of working to gain enough money to bring her into the city by February this year.

Within the next week, there will be a research launch on “They are Parents: A Study on Migrant Workers of Left Behind Children in China” with conferences in Beijing and Shanghai. CCR CSR report launch will share a study from the perspective of working parents, (Zhang). We need to realize that these migrant parents do what they do because they think it is what is right for the well-being of their children. Don’t we all want what is best for our kids? Now we have the mission to provide the educational and social services to left-behind children to promote their emotional development. Global Children’s Vision strives to equip LBC with the tools to succeed in life.

Please refer to our site for more information about coming on a trip to China or making a donation.

Sources

http://www.ccrcsr.com/sites/default/files/Study%20Launch%20invitation_English_1212.pdf

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/chinas-parenting-problem-children-of-the-industrial-revolution-9045080.html

 

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Parents find work away from children left behind in Romania

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A woman feeds her child at a charity event in Bucharest, Romania, one of the poorest countries in the European Union. Photo: Reuters

One mother says her husband earns money in France that is not worth much there, but in Romania it is of much more worth and is used for the family. Even if they understand that a parent is working away to bring them a better life, doesn’t it still hurt the children? What is being done for the kids left behind?

“Mum doesn’t want to stay away long. She just went there to make money for me and my sister,” said Cristina, a nine-year-old who lives with her grandmother when her mother is away. (South China Morning Post)

80,000 Romanian families have both parents working abroad according to the Romanian ministry of labour. Children left behind are put in a vulnerable position as they no longer get parental care and support, expresses a psychologist for Save the Children. Romania desperately struggles from parental migration. Thankfully there have been programs put into place aiming to improve the child’s development such as day-cares and support systems. What the children need most is support and individualized attention.

The government is acknowledging the issue. A law states the parents must register before going oversees to work and allow a judge to approve of the chosen guardians. Families do not tell the government of their plans to work abroad and reliable guardians are not assigned.

Please View This Moving Trailer For A Documentary On the Romanian Tragedy – Depressed Left Behind Children in Romania Commit Suicide

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ8pBfNlXQk&feature=share&list=PL11AC1323F619AE82

 

Sources

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1393286/romanias-children-being-left-behind-their-parents-seek-work-abroad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ8pBfNlXQk&list=PL11AC1323F619AE82

 

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What is China doing to help Left Behind Children?

Twinkling Stars NGO-1

What is China doing to help LBC in it’s own country?

A non-governmental organization called Twinkling Stars has produced amazing results. Inspired by AVIVA’s “Street to School” project that focuses on equipping LBC with useful skills and supplies, Twinkling Stars has recruited 1,000 volunteers. They have helped about 9,000 left behind children in 11 provinces in China since 2010 (t-stars). Global Children’s Vision like Twinkling Stars creates centers with educational resources and enhances the parent to child communication experience. The work aims to improve the child’s emotional development and inspire them to dream. We both increase awareness on the importance of education and what that means for left behind children and their teachers.

The Twinkling Stars Children Painting Competition is a recent event in which about 500 children including LBC and city children have participated in. This is the work named House of Joy, by Haohan Cui, a child from Liaoning Provinces, which won the first prize.

Twinkling Stars NGO-1

They also launched a project in 2012 that focuses on LBC’s mental health, trying to provide constant and effective help. GCV’s mission is to strengthen each child’s confidence with empowerment tools. We eliminate the idea that based on one’s circumstances there is no hope for a better future. Left behind children have an increased chance of suffering from anxiety and depression (Zhengkui). They have a decreased interest in school and a higher likelihood of have difficulties with communication and trust. They feel like their mom and dad has abandoned them. They live on the streets and are mistaken as orphans. They fail in their classes because they don’t think it is worth it. They have higher chances of drowning from neglect and lack of supervision, being recruited as child prostitutes in the sex trafficking industry, and dropping out of school.

LBC have loving parents who just are unable to directly care for the child because of financial reasons, not because they “left them behind” for selfish reasons. It is a common misconception that left behind children are purposely neglected. The parent who finds work in the city earns money to provide the child with a better quality of life back in the villages. Twinkling Stars aims take care of the children that are benefiting from the money being sent home to sustain the grandparent and extended family members raising the children. The workers and volunteers take into account this population’s specific emotional, social, and academic needs.

A special project called Caring House (pictured below) is part of the Twinkling Stars accomplishments that has converted idle classrooms into special places full of toys, pens, and more than 100 items for children. Volunteers play with the children.

Twinkling Stars

 

 

 

 

How does this Chinese non-profit create positive change? This issue of Left Behind Children is global. It touches the lives of millions of children in China alone. Twinkling Stars empowers these children “by creating an inspiring environment for the children to do homework, classes, play and sing – to dream a little,” (AVIVA). Global Children’s Vision’s motto is Empower the Future. We must empower individuals and let them know that they are not defined by their circumstances. They can accomplish greatness if they are taught they can do anything. Teach children to be resilient by teaching them they are worth it then they can dream big.

 

Sources:

http://www.aviva.com/reports/cr11/regions/asia-pacific/communities/sts-social-media.html

http://www.t-stars.cn/

 Zhengkui Liu, PhD, Xinying Li, MD, and Xiaojia Ge, PhD. “Left Too Early: The Effects of Age at Separation from Parents on Chinese Rural Children’s Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression.” American Journal of Public Health Research and Practice 99.11 (2009): n. pag. Web.

 

 

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“I only go to see the kids during national holidays. The rest of the time, I have to work.” – a migrant parent

It’s Thanksgiving Eve, when America’s thoughts are on family, fresh mounds of turkey in excess, and multiple types of pies made by loved ones ready to be consumed with delight. Yet there’s a thought that comes to a mind filled with the excitement of a family reunion at the holidays and it is a thought that stops me in my tracks.

In the video a father confessed “I only go to see the kids during national holidays. The rest of the time, I have to work.” This heartbreaking truth is a result of China’s economic situation. This issue is a consequence of globalization’s affect on migration. Jobs are in the cities and children are raised by extended family members. It is a joyous reunion when left behind children are reunited with their parents. At brief times that their parents have time off from work, it is wonderful for the child to see the parent in person.

child-poverty_10-things-id-ban-if-i-were-president

How do we help? We can’t promise the parents a higher paying job that is closer to their child. We can’t change every government official’s mind on the issue. What we CAN do is create resources for these children and their parents that facilitate communication, extra psychological care, higher academic quality, and education for the parents and grandparents on problems LBC may face.

Left behind children may have wonderful and caring parents but the parents are put in a situation where a choice have to be made either to be unemployed and raise their child in a poor village or work far away in the city and provide their child with a better quality of life. There are social and emotional consequences unfortunately for these children. A sense of abandonment and an increase depressive and anxious feelings is common in LBC. Left Behind Children are not only in China, but are all around the world. Philippines has around 9 Million (CNN) and Indonesia has around 1 Million (UNICEF), Moldova has 177, 000 and Romania is at 350, 000 (icmhd).

As it is Thanksgiving, we reflect on what we have. We have a greater appreciation for food, shelter, friends, family, work, and an education. Reach out to those in need during this holiday season and learn more about the ways you may use your gifts to empower the future for these neglected children around the world!

 

Sources

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/03/world/asia/philippines-forgotten-children

http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/iwp2005_05.pdf

http://icmhd.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/migration-displacement-and-children-left-behind-clbs/

 

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LBC with Foreign Passports

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(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.

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“These children all hold foreign passports, as their migrant worker parents have all gone to other countries - mostly the United States - to work.”

 

sign

US-China, two-way express. Pick up from airports, packages, children” reads a sign that illustrates the issue of the shipping children overseas.

 

Sources:

China’s “Born in the USA” Frenzy – TIME http://content.time.com/time/world/article

www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/05/01/chinas_left_behind_children?page=0,0/0,8599,2077693,00.html#ixzz2kXtcPopz

www.chinesetimeschool.com/en-us/articles/the-left-behind-generation/3/

content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2077693,00.html

www.womenofchina.cn/html/womenofchina/report/165763-1.htm

http://offbeatchina.com/left-behind-american-children-in-china

http://english.cntv.cn/program/newshour/20121230/102623.shtm

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