In the Yaopu village (瑶圃村) of Shanxi province’s Xiaoyi city (孝义市), a local widow has served as a one-woman orphanage, having adopted 80 orphans and disabled children over the course of 22 years. The widow, 49-year-old Li Yanping (李艳萍), subsists on a meager income, and lives inside a 40 square meter country-style yard home with 13 children who call her ‘Mother’.
The orphans are for the most part either physically or mentally handicapped, and have to rely greatly on Li for basic care, including being fed, bathed and taken to the toilet. Li’s situation is a precarious one, since she lacks a steady and substantial income to support her orphans. She receives no help from her own children, who reportedly neither support nor understand Li’s adoption of disabled orphans.
Though Li receives occasional monetary help from fellow villagers and grants from local welfare authorities (a local civil affairs bureau has now agreed to 450RMB per month for each child), the most valuable things in her home are a 29-inch television and a small refrigerator. Li only buys 20RMB worth of meat a month, and has had to contend with raising the orphans alone for the past seven years, following the death of her husband. She expresses concern about the kids currently under her care, and is working to set up a more formal orphanage that can provide for their welfare into the future.
Li says that her wish for her kids is to study hard and to make it to college, saying that, ‘As long as they can get into college or a PhD program, I’ll always support it, I’ll manage to find some way to support them.’ Two of her physically healthy children are currently high school students at a local vocational school.
The cynic in us would like to believe that Li adopts unwanted children to fill some emotional void the same way certain hoarders adopt cats. But we’re more inclined to think of Li as a Mother Teresa figure, someone who lives for the welfare of others with no title or wealth to her name, and is blessed instead with an abundance of moral courage and compassion.
Information from Hexun, and photos from Tencent News.