A 17-year old Guangxi boy has sacrificed his schooling and taken up full-time work to help fund his sick brother’s medical treatment, reports Chinese media outlet Weibo.
In 2013, the boy’s three-year-old brother was diagnosed with leukaemia, prompting the family to move from their rural Jingshan village home to Nanning so as to be close to a hospital which could administer chemotherapy.
Since the parents gave up their jobs as farmers to take care of their ill son, the family had no source of income and no way of paying for the treatment. Even after the government’s healthcare reimbursement, the cost of hospital expenses still exceeded 200,000 RMB—perhaps further evidence of gaps in China’s health reforms.
After the Spring Festival in 2014, the elder brother chose to drop out of school and find work in Guangdong in order to reduce the financial burden on his family. Because the boy is still so young, the opportunities as a migrant worker are limited, but he toiled in odd-jobs (such as moulding plastic doors at a moulding plant) for an income of 1,000 RMB (US$160) per month. At the most recent Chinese New Year, he remitted between 5,000 and 6,000 RMB to contribute to his brother’s treatment.
The caring brother’s decision to find employment was not simply a matter of accepting arduous labor, but also one to forsake his education. At the age of 17, the boy was supposed to be studying for the crucial national college entrance exams (gaokao) which determine eligibility for higher education and thus, employment prospects. However, the selfless brother told reporters he cares only for his brother’s health and hopes the decision will be vindicated once his brother recovers and attends school himself.
This is just the latest touching story of love and sacrifice in China: previously, a farmer towed his sick wife to hospital in a homemade ambulance for 10 years; while a Shandong man quit his job to marry and care for his cancer-stricken girlfriend.
By Liam Bourke