By Siukei Cheung
Health and financial difficulties have forced this family of four to find a new way of living. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, a woman surnamed Zhang, along with her mother, husband and daughter moved from Hebei Province from Shanghai to treat her illness and start a better life.
Her husband, Sun Jie, a 39 year old retired soldier, managed to purchase a discarded bus in the city and used his skills from the military to refit it. A local company then offered them a solar energy system so that they could have power. The total cost of their home amounted to several thousand yuan.
But the cost of living in Shanghai is high. Sun earns about 2,000 yuan per month as a security guard and provides for the whole family, which includes the cost of breast cancer treatment for Zhang and heart disease treatment for her mother.
When a local resident posted pictures of their refitted home on Weibo, the family’s lives became significantly more problematic. They have received multiple visits from local officials asking them to leave after reports from nearby residents who claim that the family have violated laws such as illegally occupying the land and building illegal structures. The intrusion has left the family on edge, who were understandably hostile to the reporters who were waiting for them in the narrow lane leading up to their RV home in suburban Songjiang District.
“We don’t need your help or your sympathy. We cannot afford to buy or rent an apartment in the city so we built one. It’s not breaking the law or disturbing the others. So if you cannot give us another shelter, just leave us alone. Leave the bus and our life alone, here, isolated but peaceful,” said Zhang.