Chinese Father Carries Disabled Son Nine Miles a Day for School

March 11, 2014 Updated: March 11, 2014

A man in Sichuan Province walks nine miles a day with his son on his back to get him to and from school, because the boy is handicapped.

Yu Xukang, 40, from Yibin City wears a special bamboo basket for his 12-year-old son Xiao Qiang to stand in. After dropping him off, Yu goes back home to work in the fields.

Xiao Qiang is the boy’s nickname–it means “little strong.” He has a hunchback, twisted limbs, and is about 3 feet tall. He was enrolled in first grade last September, and works hard in class, according to Huaxi Metropolitan Daily. His father hopes he will go to college one day or learn a skill to support himself.

He has to carry Xiao nearly five miles across mountainous terrain to Fengxi Elementary School, because it is the closest school that would admit the child. There is no school bus or other suitable public transport. The total journey takes Yu about six hours each day, and they are never late. He has worn out three pairs of shoes in the past six months.

Xiao’s mother returned to her hometown in Yunnan Province when he was three, and Yu has been raising the boy by himself. He worked out that he has carried Xiao a total of about 1,600 miles so far.

After the news about the long walk made it to the press, local authorities gave small amounts of money to Yu, including a 3,000 yuan ($489) scholarship for the boy, and have promised to rent Yu a room that is near the school.

Netizens shared the story online, with many commenting on the father’s great love for his son.

One blogger said, “At this pace, he won’t be able to go to college. It’s like using rice and a rifle to fight a modern war … I see the incompetence of the government. I hope the media follows up on this story. Don’t let them down.”

Another posted, “Where did the government education budget go? Please given more children a better learning environment.”

Research by Sophia Fang.