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China: Around The Nation

After five years in chains, impoverished Chinese girl finally to get medical treatment

Migrant worker parents of Xiaoxinli, who suffered brain damage from a fever as an infant, are simply too poor to send her to hospital

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 2:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 2:24pm

Childhood is cold and lonely for a seven-year-old girl in Yunnan province in Southwest China who has been chained at home for five years, Chinese media reported.

The girl, named Xiaoxinli, was diagnosed with brain atrophy at age two when she was sent to hospital with a fever.

Doctors at the hospital told the family the little girl would need follow-up examinations at a better equipped facility, news portal 163.com reported. But the family simply could not afford further treatment and even another check up for Xiaoxinli.

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Zhao Guizhen, Xiaoxinli’s grandma, said the family’s entire income came from Xiaoxinli’s parents who were construction workers in Dali, the third biggest city in Yunnan.

“If things go well they can earn 20,000 yuan (US$3,000) a year, so nothing can be spared to pay for her treatment and medicine.”

Without medical treatment, Zhao noticed that her granddaughter gradually lost the ability to talk and developed strange behaviour.

“Once I put her on my back, but she started biting and scratching me.”

Zhao said Xiaoxinli started to walk at three years old but is not toilet trained.

Zhao has to lock and chain Xiaoxinli in the room when she goes outside to tend the farm. She said she felt heartbroken to have to put chains on Xiaoxinli who sometimes injures herself or beats her four-year-old brother.

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The news report said the village committee had reported Xiaoxinli’s plight to the civil affairs department and the Red Cross in Baoshan city.

Xiaoxinli will receive a check-up on July 7 at a local hospital, and the Baoshan government will help pay for her medical fees.

An officer at the Baoshan Red Cross said that another payment of 5,000 yuan would be provided by the civil affairs department and Red Cross to help meet Xiaoxinli’s living expenses. Her family started receiving a basic living allowance from local authorities in 2015.

According to the report, about a third of 1,100 families in Wu Ma village, where Xiaoxinli lives, are impoverished.