China / Society

Volunteers care for 'left-behind' kids

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-08-04 16:29

CHONGQING - Chongqing has recruited more than 100,000 volunteers to look after rural kids without parental care during summer vacation.

A total of 105,000 "surrogate parents" are helping the school children with their homework, keeping watch and providing psychological assistance if needed, Deng Qingquan, a municipal education official, told Xinhua on Tuesday.

The plight of China's vast number of "left-behind" children in the countryside, whose parents are away from home for better-paid jobs in cities, is always highlighted during summer vacation, when reports on tragedies of the unattended children, such as drowning, surge.

Most of the volunteers live near those children. They include teachers, public servants at grassroots levels, as well as social workers, Deng said, adding that another 10,000 students from high schools and colleges have also joined the aid program.

Xiong Xinglong, a primary school teacher in Jinqian Village, Fengjie County, is caring for six children, including Liu Wei, who was left to his grandparents by his parents working in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.

"During summer vacation in the past, he often spent days catching fish in the river," Xiong said. "His grandparents were worried about his safety, but had no control over him."

In addition to coaching Liu in his schoolwork, Xiong now invites the children for dinner at his home and outings.

Deng said in Chongqing, home to nearly 980,000 "left-behind" children, after-school centers have been set up in villages. Such centers have been built in many other parts of the country.

China has more than 60 million rural children who are left to relatives, usually grandparents. According to a 2013 report released by the All-China Women's Federation, nearly 3.4 percent of the children live alone.

In June, four brothers and sisters who lived on their own, aged between 5 and 13, died after swallowing pesticide at home in Bijie of Guizhou Province, prompting calls for better protection of "left-behind" children.

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