Post Square 12.31.13 ~ Mama Who?
A synopsis of a story in the Washington Post by William Wan
I was hoping we might have an upbeat subject to close out the year, and this project, but the cover story in the Post for this day is sad.
More than 61 million children in China (I still can’t quite wrap my brain around that number) don’t live with their parents. Poor villagers have moved to cities, fueling the country’s growing economy, and leaving their children behind to be cared for by grandparents and other elderly relatives. The workers already living in the city find that with the high cost of living and the long hours at their jobs, they can’t keep their kids with them, either.
Wu Hongwei left his tiny village in the mountains at age 16 to find something better than doing back-breaking labor making 3 dollars a day. He went to the city of Zhangzhou were he was trained by his uncle to be a barber. Years later he took his trade to Zhuzhou, where he found a good-paying job. Wu met a young woman, married her, and they had a little girl. Wu’s wife, Wang, quit her job to care for the baby and he worked overtime cutting hair. They were able to make ends meet at first, but as the child grew so did their expenses and Wang was forced to go back to work. With the high cost of living and both of them working long hours they found they needed to make the decision to take the baby to Wu’s village to be cared for by his parents.
When they can, Wu and Wang make the 14-hour journey by bus, then train, then motorcycle to see their daughter, now 2. She doesn’t know them, though, and feels more comfortable with her grandmother.
The grandmother says that living in the country is good for the child. The food is clean and the air isn’t polluted, as it is in the city, but there is no future for her in the village.
The parents are working on a plan to overcome the financial obstacles and bring their daughter back home to be raised by them.
Drawing from a detail of a photograph by Xiaomei Chen
In the upper right corner is the knee of Beibei, the child whose parents are featured in this story. She’s climbing over a structure that is holding some logs. I chose two pencils at a time and used the darkest one to shade each log shape and the lighter one to fill it in. I went over the whole background with white pencil. I repeated all the colors in the background to fill in the design on Beibei’s pants.
That’s it! The last day of 2013 and the last drawing for this project. I’d love to see you at the opening on Sunday, but if you can’t make it, wish me luck. I do have some new things in mind that I want to experiment with in the new year. I’ll keep you posted!