With temperatures in China soaring above 40 degrees Celsius, many people have opted to chill inside IKEAs or overcrowded swimming pools; however, one 12-year-old boy is out in the sweltering streets picking up scraps, hoping to raise enough money to help his stepmother suffering from leukemia.
Wang Zheng is a fifth grade student in Nanyang, Henan province. After his mother remarried, he has been supported mostly by his father who works away from home in the city. The family fell into crisis when Wang’s grandmother became seriously ill. The subsequent medical bills wiped out all of the family’s savings.
With his father away working hard to get out of debt, Wang was cared for by his grandfather until his new stepmother entered his life. She took good care of him, filling the void inside of him that had been empty since his mother left. However, yet again, tragedy struck. Wang’s stepmother was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Of course, as a 12-year-old kid, Wang didn’t know much about the disease that was slowly killing his stepmother or even the medical bill that was reaching past 100,000 yuan. All Wang knew was that he desperately needed some money to save his stepmom.
“She treats me and my grandpa so well. The doctor told me that if she didn’t get treatment as soon as possible, she would die. I don’t want her to do die and I won’t let her go,” Wang said.
Despite the blistering heat, with the mercury rising all the way up to 43.5 degrees Celsius, the skinny boy has spent his summer walking through the streets, picking up all the scraps he can, hoping to earn a little money. While he is searching around, Wang wears a cardboard sign around his neck reading: “Please help save my stepmother and my family” and detailing the family’s sad story.
Wang says that even with life being so hard, he can still find happiness in the little things. After selling a bundle of scraps for just 2.5 yuan, he’s in a good mood for the rest of the day. “I can save my stepmother when I have enough savings!” he says optimistically.
Some netizens have been moved to tears by Wang’s tragic story, others have been moved to anger, asking why the government can’t provide affordable medical care to all who need it.
“Why does the treatment cost so much? If a family member is diagnosed with an illness, the family is often burdened with a whopping bill! It’s not fair to them and the Chinese government should change the system to help them!” one wrote.
“Where the hell is the government or the Red Cross? Shouldn’t they extend a helping hand to this poor family,” another asked.
Unfortunately, it has long been the case in China that family members have had to go to extreme lengths to try and pay for their loved ones’ cancer treatment. Whether that means dressing as a horse, selling sex dolls by the roadside or being shot by arrows,
By Katie Ngai
[Images via Sina]