Fam­i­lies form the back­bone of ru­ral care

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By LIU XIAOLI in Haikou li­ux­i­aoli@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The pro­vi­sion of long-term care in­sur­ance will be dif­fer­ent in China’s ru­ral ar­eas com­pared with large cities.

That’s be­cause el­derly coun­try dwellers see their chil­dren, es­pe­cially their sons, as not just the con­tin­u­a­tion of the fam­ily line, but also the eco­nomic and nurs­ing back­bone.

FuMeiju is a per­fect ex­am­ple of this tra­di­tion. The 91-year-old wi­dow from Tu­long, a small vil­lage in Cheng­mai county, China’s south­ern­most Hainan prov­ince, has rheuma­tism and hyper­ten­sion. She is un­able to work, and lives with her grand­son, Wang Caiqiang, her only means of sup­port.

Dur­ing World War II, Fu suf­fered phys­i­cal and men­tal tor­ture af­ter be­ing raped re­peat­edly over the course of a month as a “com­fort woman”, a sex slave for Ja­panese sol­diers. Like many women in her sit­u­a­tion, Fu found it dif­fi­cult to con­ceive af­ter her mar­riage at age 22, but she even­tu­ally man­aged to have a son and two daugh­ters.

Her chil­dren are now adults and her hus­band, WangHe’an, died some years ago.

Fu was left alone af­ter her daugh­ters mar­ried and her son was elec­tro­cuted and died in 1991. Her daugh­terin-law, who was four months’ preg­nant when her hus­band died, re­mar­ried the same year and had Wang Caiqiang, Fu’s grand­son.

Fu spent a lot of time car­ing for the boy, and Wang Caiqiang, who mar­ried in 2012 and is now a fa­ther of two, has cared for her for sev­eral years.

Wang Caiqiang makes a liv­ing by plant­ing rub­ber and other cash crops, in ad­di­tion to work­ing sev­eral part-time jobs. In 2012, he built a new house in the vil­lage and in­vited Fu to move in with his fam­ily to es­cape from the shabby, leaky house in which she had lived for many years.

“My daugh­ters grew up and mar­ried — they had their own fam­i­lies and par­ents-in-law to care for, so I had to rely onmy son when I could no longer work. Now, I am lucky to have my grand­son,” Fu said.

Now a wheel­chair user, Fu sel­dom leaves her bed­room, so Wang Caiqiang pro­vides care and pays for her med­i­cal treat­ment.

“My grand­mother has nei­ther in­come nor an in­sur­ance pol­icy, so I pay all the bills. I havemy own fam­ily to sup­port, so I can’t give my grand­mother a much bet­ter life. But I amher only grand­son, the only per­son she can rely on, so I hope I can give her the best life pos­si­ble, and I hope it is a long one,” Wang Caiqiang said.

HUANG YIM­ING / CHINA DAILY

Fu Meiju, 91, lives with her grand­son and his fam­ily in Tu­long, a vil­lage in Cheng­mai county, Hainan prov­ince.

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