A Hefei man has taken to begging on the streets to collect money for his sick son’s leukemia treatment, wearing a horse mask and offering to give pedestrians a ride for five kuai (1 USD), reports Tencent.
After his son was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011, the man required 200,000 RMB (32,000 USD) to pay for chemotherapy treatment, and still faces outstanding debt of 160,000 RMB (26,000 USD).
When the boy’s illness came back in March, his father turned to begging to pay for medication and further treatment.
Photos show the 38-year-old man kneeling on the pavement next to a sign. The billboard includes a photo of his sick boy, a short account of their plight and a plea to passers-by to support his cause: “One ride for five kuai. Good-hearted people will ride once.”
The man estimates that he often receives a few hundred yuan in charity per day, and sometimes generous benefactors reach out to him to offer large sums.
The man admits that publicly appealing for compassion has been humbling, especially using a method some may view as belittling and cruel, and has not told his son the manner in which he begs, hiding the horse mask in a bag before he leaves each day.
While the sight of a man forced onto his knees to beg is always bitterly distressing, this story does show the sacrifices many Chinese are willing to make to support their loved ones while standing by their family-centric values. Recently, a Guangxi teenager dropped out of school to find work and help pay for his sick brother’s medical treatment.
However, the lengths this man has been forced to take to meet an impossibly high medical bill does little to improve the reputation of China’s health care system, which some argue is failing to help the most desperate and vulnerable, despite the government claiming successful reforms now furnish 95 percent of China’s population with insurance cover.
By Liam Bourke