In Xingyi (Guizhou) 11 years old Hailian washing cloth in the village pond. The village has no running water and rain water is collected in ponds. It is this pond that Hailian's 3 years old little brother drowned a few months before. Like Hailian he was under the care of their 75 years old grandfather, as their parents are working hundreds of miles away in a factory.
China has an estimated 61 million "left-behind" children -- one in five nationally -- that grow up without one or both of their parents. Around 30 million children under 18 have no parent at home and two million fend for themselves with no adult guardian. This is the consequence of the greatest human migration of all times, which brought hundreds of millions of peasants to cities in search of a better income, leaving in the process their children behind.
4 years old Ting Rui, Hailian cousin, standing at the door of his grand parents home on a day he and his sisters were left alone at home. Ting Rui's father works hundreds of miles away, while is mum has disappeared.
8 years old Ting Fen, Ting Rui's older sister, standing on a wood ladder in the main room of her grand parents's home, on a day she and her siblings were left alone at home. Ting Fen's father works hundreds of miles away, while her mum has disappeared.
Ting Fen, Ting Rui and Yang Tian Mei, on their way to wash the household laundry on a day she and his siblings were left alone at home.
Yang Tingmei and her siblings, playing at the family home on a day they were left alone at home.
11 years old Yang Tian Mei, standing by the door of the kitchen with one of her sisters, at her grand parents' home.
Playing at home alone.
11 years old Yang Tian Mei, standing with her grand father under the porch of the family home. Her grand-father has just come back for a lunch break from working on the construction side of a dirt road which will link the village with the local asphalt road. Before lunch he is smoking tobacco through a water pipe.
Tianmei feeding the family pigs.
11 years old Hailian (with orange coat) with her family heading back to the newly built family home after going shopping to the city. Her parents just came back two days before, to work on the village road. Outside Chinese New Year she never sees her parents who work in a factory in Guangdong province. She and her sister are raised by her grand-father.
Hailian's little sister Haili, reading a school book in the newly built family home. Her parents just came back two days before, to work on the village road. Outside Chinese New Year she never sees her parents who work in a factory in Guangdong province. She and her sister are raised by their grand-father.
Yang Tian Mei two sisters, doing schoolwork in their grand parents' home.
8 years old Ting Fe doing her schoolwork, while her little brother is watching tv.
Hailian 75 years old grand father, in his home. His son having left to work in the provincial capital, Guiyang, he is in charge of raising his grandchildren. His 3 years old grandson drowned a few months before while he went unattended on a stroll unattended to the village pond.
iang Gifen, who is 77 and lives nearby, looked after her grandchildren while her son and his wife went off to find work.
Tian Mei fixing dinner for her siblings. She remembers her mother, "You must be good, listen to your grandparents".
Tianmei feeding the fire to cook the dinner.
Tian Mei's 3 years old little brother is having his feet washed by his grand mother from a water basin, a nightly ritual in the yan family. The house has no running water and it has to be brought from the pond. The Yan grand parents have to take care of their for grand children.
At 5 am, Tian Mei and her sisters are up, sitting by the fire they have started. Tian Mei is combing and drying her hair.
At 6 am, Tian Mei is doing some schoolwork before breakfast.
At 7 am, Tian Mei and her sisters are off to school an hours walk away along a mountain dirt path.
Tian Mei and her sister have reached the main road they still have another 30' to walk to the school.