China / Cover Story

Life on the edge in the 'village in the city'

By Zhu Lixin (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-07 08:03

Life on the edge in the 'village in the city'

Shao Liangyu, 14, plays a game on a cellphone while his mother hangs up a surgical mask to dry in Wujianong, Hefei, Anhui province. Shao has acute myeloid leukemia. Situated next to the Anhui Provincial Children's Hospital, Wujianong is home to dozens of young cancer patients, most of whom come from rural areas and have to visit the hospital regularly for treatment. Gao Bo / for China Daily

People are abandoning their homes in the countryside and living in squalid conditions in the capital of Anhui province in the hope of giving their children a better chance of surviving cancer. Zhu Lixin reports from Hefei.

Dozens of children with life-threatening diseases are living in a 70,000-square-meter slum called Wujianong next to the Anhui Provincial Children's Hospital in Hefei, the capital of Anhui province.

In Wujianong, the crowded and shabby, temporary two-and three-story dwellings, which are likely to be demolished at any moment, block out the sky. Even during the day, lights are needed in the dim, winding passages, but few have been installed.

People habitually refer to places such as this as a "village in the city", but most Chinese villages aren't like this. Wujianong is a real slum.

The residents come from the rural areas. Most are migrant workers who work at nearby factories or construction sites, but a few dozen live in Wujianong because it's convenient for their children's treatment at the hospital. They've left their real homes to try and give their children a better chance of survival.

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