Homeless man finds his way back to family after 16 years living on the streets of southern China
A volunteer from a Guangdong charity helps brothers reunite
A 51-year-old man who was one of the first people in his central Chinese village to graduate from university has returned to his hometown and reunited with his family after living on the streets in the country’s south for more than a decade, mainland media report.
Chen Fei, who spent 16 years begging on the streets of the southern manufacturing hub of Dongguan, arrived back in Huangmei county in Hubei province with his brother Chen Ming on Sunday, Chutian Metropolis Daily reported on Monday.
Chen Fei graduated from Central China Normal University 30 years ago and took a job as a librarian at Huanggang Normal University in Huanggang. He quit the job and moved to Fujian in 2002, severing contact with his relatives, according to the report.
The family had no idea of his whereabouts until 2008 when Chen Fei phoned a cousin to say he was in Dongguan, Guangdong province.
“For six years [before 2008], he [Chen Fei] didn’t contact us and we all thought he had met with an accident and died,” Chen Ming was quoted as saying.
Chen Ming said he called his brother and was really excited to hear his voice for the first time in six years, but Chen Fei hung up after a few words. A subsequent attempt to call failed and Chen Fei gave few details of his location, the report said.
Contact was lost again until a volunteer working with homeless people, Zhang Zhiwei, met Chen Fei under a bridge in late May and noticed his calligraphy.
“I saw him writing on a piece of paper scrap with chopstick. His penmanship was really neat and beautiful, and he even knew how to write in English,” Zhang said.
Zhang, who is part of a group called Let Love Go Home, helped Chen Fei reconnect with his family with the help of police in Huangmei county.
Chen Ming said the return went well.
“I see my brother is happy that we have returned home,” Chen Ming was quoted as saying. “He was even humming a melody happily this morning.”