The story of a pair of orphan brothers living in rural Hubei province who have been forced to rely only on each other after their parents passed away has gone viral on the Chinese internet.
The older brother named Zhang Ronghai is 16 years old, while his younger brother named Guangxin is 9. They both live in Hubei’s Yunxi County.
Ronghai recalled that when he was three years old, his dad moved his mom and him to a factory in Lingbao city in order to make a living. His father worked as a miner while his mother cooked for all the workers there. The family of three lived together in a temporary shed.
“I remember how my dad’s face was always covered in mud and his nose full of small stones when he would return home,” Ronghai told reporters. “In 2007, when I was in first grade, my little brother was born inside the shed.”
Having worked for more than ten years in the mine. Ronghai’s dad began struggling with lung disease. The disease exhausted the family’s savings and left them heavily in debt. One day during Spring Festival in 2011, Ronghai’s father passed away at the age of 34.
Saddened by the death of her husband, Ronghai’s mom spent the whole night crying.
“Six months after my dad’s death, my mom got married to my step-father surnamed Chen from the neighboring village,” Ronghai said. “I didn’t like to talk much after my dad died. I called him “uncle” because I couldn’t quite accept him. But, my little brother called him “dad,” and changed his family name to “Chen.”
One year after his mom and step-father’s marriage, the couple had a daughter of their own. She is four years old now.
The family’s fortunes took a sharp turn for the worse when Ronghai’s mom was diagnosed with cancer when he was in sixth grade. “I had to drop out of school. Sadly, she passed away last July, she was only 37,” he said. “My step-father couldn’t afford to raise my little brother and I. After burying mom, my brother and I moved back to our old home.”
Ronghai started to spend most of his time taking care of his little brother. They usually lived on instant noodles or potatoes.
This past Singles Day, China’s biggest online shopping holiday, the brothers’ home had only 15 potatoes, some cooking oil and a little salt left in storage.
Ronghai said that he plans to get a job to make money to help support his brother and himself.
Meanwhile, his little brother hopes that he can grow up quickly, so that he can leave the poor village to find better work.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via Sina News]
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