China: Around The Nation

Chinese dad uses his noodle to raise money for autistic son

Chen Lecai went broke trying to meet his son’s medical bills, before officials in a smaller city gave him just the break he needed to get back on his feet

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 May, 2017, 4:20pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 May, 2017, 4:20pm

A father in eastern China has been making hundreds of bowls of noodles a day to raise money to help treat his autistic son, according to a local newspaper.

With the help of local volunteers, Chen Lecai, 31, opened a noodle shop in Changzhou, Jiangsu province last week to pay for the treatment of his two-year-old son, who was diagnosed with mild autism last year, the Yangtze Evening News reported.

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Children with mild autism may exhibit impairment in social interaction, communication and behaviour, but in many cases they are able to lead independent lives with the help of therapy.

Since his son’s diagnosis, Chen, from Anhui province, has been fired three times for taking too much leave to keep his company in hospital.

To pay for his son’s medical bills, Chen has sold water near metro exits in Nanjing, the Jiangsu capital, with a sign in his own writing saying he was raising money for his son, but commuters thought he was a swindler and he only sold 30 bottles in four days, according to the report.

Chen’s family of three are 50,000 yuan (US$7,300) in debt after using all their savings to pay for the son’s treatment, which costs between 6,000 yuan and 7,000 yuan per month.

“A doctor said that if my son had timely treatment, he could attend kindergarten as a normal child in two to three years. I just want to earn money to treat him as fast as I can,” Chen said.

He insisted on relying on his resources to help his son, after rejecting donations from a charity and refusing to apply to the local government for subsidies.

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A former cook specialising in braised food, Chen accepted an offer from the city of Changzhou, which provided him free space to make noodles in a less populated area in Wujin district.

Thanks to word of mouth on social media, Chen’s noodle shop has been a hit with the local community, with thousands of bowls of noodles being sold in the first two days after it was opened, forcing Chen to close temporarily to stock up on supplies, the report said.

“I feel nervous, watching so many people coming here to eat my noodles. I hope it is because they appreciate my cooking skills, not just because of my difficulties,” Chen said.