China: Around The Nation

Chinese brothers, abandoned by family, forced to live in school for four years

Siblings say they miss their parents badly, but teachers can’t bear to tell them the truth

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 July, 2017, 2:18pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 July, 2017, 5:58pm

Two brothers have spent four years living at a school in northern China after being abandoned by their family, according to news reports.

The pair, now aged 12 and 10, were admitted to a kindergarten affiliated to the Shuangyashan Forestry Bureau in Heilongjiang province in 2013. At first the children’s grandmother took the boys to and from school but stopped coming when the summer holiday started, according to the Beijing Youth Daily.

When contacted by staff, the grandmother said she was living in a different city and no one in the family could take care of them. It was arranged for the two to spend the summer holidays with a teacher.

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The grandmother then changed her mobile number and cut off contact with the school.

The two did not have household registration, either, so the school arranged to register them with local authorities and applied for low-income allowances for them.

Local authorities took up the case and found that the boy’s mother had divorced their father and had no means of income. The grandmother was living with her boyfriend.

The father, who had moved away for work, lost contact. The two could not be sent to child care institutes, either, because their parents were still living and they could not be classified as orphans.

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For the past four years the children have been studying and living at the school without paying any fees. At night they sleep in teacher dormitories in the high school.

Their teacher said the boys missed their parents very much and begged the teacher to call their mother, but the teacher did not have the heart to tell them their mother could not be reached.

“I remember very little about my parents. I miss them very much and hope they can come and take us home,” said the younger boy.

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“I am very close to my elder brother and teachers. We never had any birthday parties or birthday cake. We only thought about it but would not tell the teachers to save them the trouble,” he added.

The school said it was very concerned about its responsibilities if the children got sick or the high tuition fees if they are eventually admitted to university.