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China science

Six-year-old Chinese girl swaps places with mum, spends four years as her carer

  • Roles reversed as daughter spends four years teaching her mother to read, write and speak again
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 12:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 8:27pm

A 10-year-old girl from Sichuan in southwest China who has been her mother’s sole carer for the past four years has been hailed as a model of filial piety.

Cai Chengcheng was only six years old when her mother Chen Li suffered a brain haemorrhage which left her with severe memory loss and the intelligence of a young child.

Teaching her mother how to read, write and speak again became part of the young girl’s daily routine.

“Before, Mama was the one taught me how to read, now it is my turn to teach her how to read,” Cai told the Chengdu Business Daily on Monday.

“I paired the words I wanted to teach Mama with animals and foods I liked, to make it more interesting for her.”

Cai used flash cards and memory games to aid the teaching process. When teaching the word “apple”, she would give an apple to her mother to taste, or let her hold a rabbit when teaching the word “rabbit”.

Cai, who lives in the city of Yibin, remembers well the day her mother came home from hospital.

“Mama was in a wheelchair, her left eye looked normal but her right eye was rolling backwards, as if she couldn’t see anything,” the young girl said.

“She recognised that I was Chengcheng, but could not call me by my name.”

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Cai’s father Cai Yong was working all day in the small family shop to pay for his wife’s medical expenses. At the same time, the young girl’s elder brother Cai Ling had just started high school. His heavy workload meant he had no time to look after their mother.

Besides teaching her Chinese, Cai also made sure her mother took the correct daily medication, and helped her with the physiotherapy exercises she needed for recovery.

“Mama has high blood pressure and during her recovery period she had to continue taking medication. If nobody reminded her, she would have forgotten,” Cai was quoted as saying.

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Thanks to her daughter’s care, Chen Li is well enough now to help with running the family shop and perform simple tasks, although she still has some way to go towards a full recovery.

Despite all the tough challenges for her family in the past four years, Cai not only achieved good grades but also took on leadership roles at her school.

Her dedication to her mother has been recognised with achievement awards for filial piety from the local government in Yibin as well as from the state broadcaster CCTV.

Chinese state media often highlights individuals who are examples of outstanding filial piety, which the Chinese government is keen to promote as a widespread national virtue.