CHINA—In the Guizhou Province of Southwest China, the sunshine barely lasts for three days in a row during the winter. The weather is constantly gloomy and it often rains. On a slippery village road near the Moon Mountain area, a girl carrying a boy on her back to school is a daily sight.
On Dec. 9, China's Today Morning Express published a report about a girl named Ning Yuexiang. She is a fourth grader at the Dadong Elementary school in Yong Li County. She is eight years old, and the boy she carries on her back is her two-year-old brother.
She started washing clothes at the age of four. At age five, she climbed hills to chop wood with her father. She started taking care of her six-month old baby brother at six years of age so that her mother could work on the farm.
The first time Ning Yuexiang took her brother to school, he cried in the classroom. The next day she was upset and went to school alone. After school, she realized that her brother had been crying at home for the whole day. Since then, she's been carrying him to school everyday.
Her father often works away from home. Her mother takes care of the farm. Her grandmother is over 90 years old. After school, Ning Yuexiang's daily chores consist of taking care of her brother, doing housework, washing clothes, and feeding the pigs.
Ning Yuexiang's home is a three-room, two-story building. The partitions of the house are broken. The cooking stove, situated in the middle room, is surrounded by plastic sheeting to block the mountain breezes. The pig pen is located at the right. The upper floor is where the family sleeps and stores grains. The floor squeaks whenever someone walks. The room is filled with beds, boxes, and tools.
When asked if life is hard, Ning Yuexiang says no. When asked if she gets tired of taking care of her brother, she responds that she is not tired as long as he's not crying and that she's happy when her brother is with her.
As a class leader, Ning Yuexiang is never late to school. Her grades have been good. Her face showed sadness when she talked about how hard she has to study to go to college. She worries if her father will be able to afford the tuition.