Yin Quanhai , 35, is from the most populous county in China's most populous province, Henan . He left his home town as a teenager in search of a better life. Now he makes a living in Beijing by collecting cardboard, bottles and other disposable material to sell to state-owned recycling companies. On a snowy day, he takes time to tell Jane Cai about his life. Q: What was your life like before you came to the capital? I'm from Gushi county in southern Henan. My parents are farmers. My family is poor and not very interested in study. At 17 I went to Wuhan [in the neighbouring province of Hubei] after some villagers told me about a job as a painter at a furniture factory. What was that job like? I earned 100 yuan a month. It was not very much but accommodation and food were provided by the factory. We all knew the paint was poisonous so after three years I returned to Henan to work in a brick factory. Did you like your job in the brick factory? It was really labour intensive. We often worked 10 or more hours a day without a break. Half a year later, I felt that I could not keep doing the work and quit. What made you decide to come to Beijing? I came to Beijing in 1999. Some villagers were migrant workers and came home for the spring festival. They told me Beijing was a big, big place. I was curious and decided to follow them. What did you do in Beijing? My fellow villagers and I loaded and unloaded scrap from trucks. We were happy together, talking about the interesting things we saw in the city. But I earned very little money and my parents were counting on me to improve their living standard. So one year later, I applied to the street administration to be a scrap collector in the residential area and was accepted. I became a self-employed person and brought my wife and one of my two children to the city. I feel happy being with them even though I am the only breadwinner. How are things now? My wife is illiterate and my son is five. They are the source of happiness in my life. I earn around 1,000 yuan a month if business is good. After paying 500 yuan in management fees to the street administration, 300 yuan in rent, there is usually about 200 yuan left over. Our room is 23 sq ft and just fits a bed. My wife uses the limited amount of money we have to create a warm home. Do you have any concerns about the future? My son is growing up. I can't afford the education in Beijing so I will send him to our home town for school like his sister. And I'm afraid of getting sick. Medical fees are too high and we have no insurance at all. How does your life compare with that of Beijingers? They are covered by pension, medical and unemployment insurance, but I am not. They have a secure life, which I don't have. But I don't think I'm less satisfied with the current state of things. They are richer but still economical, which is the source of my business.