- Language Tips
Feng Jianlin (left), with two partners Liu Liqin (center) and Shi Richeng, sets off to find missing children from Taiyuan, Shanxi province, on Tuesday. Sun Ruisheng / China Daily
With a mixture of anxiety and hope, Feng Jianlin hit the road on Tuesday to begin his fourth nationwide search for his missing daughter.
But this time, the journey will be a little different - the 38-year-old's progress will be followed by thousands of well-wishers through his micro blog.
At around 2:50 pm, Feng, along with companions Shi Richeng and Liu Liqin, set off from Taiyuan in North China's Shanxi province.
All three said they have confidence they will find their children, as well as other missing youngsters.
Feng, who used to run a tire shop, gave up his business and has devoted himself to finding missing children since his daughter, Feng Yun, disappeared as she walked to school for afternoon classes in March 2008.
"At that time, my girl was only 9 years old. From then on, I have always carried her photo with me," he said, adding that his previous missions resulted in 10 children being reunited with their families.
This time, Feng will travel to provinces where child trafficking remains a problem, such as Henan, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu. He does not know how long the journey will last.
The trio's van has a board displaying information on more than 300 missing children, as well as leaflets with pictures.
Feng has traveled thousands of kilometers and met many parents in similar situations. But after setting up xunzi.cc, a website that collects information on lost youngsters, in 2011, he realized the Internet could be a more powerful tool for finding children.
The website contains information on nearly 400 missing children, all provided by their parents. Feng's journeys now attract hundreds of young volunteers.
"I get an allowance from the government, about 700 yuan ($112) a month. My power is too small," said Feng, who is tanned and has a husky voice. "Occasionally, I've seen people develop anti-trafficking campaigns through micro blogs. I thought it would be a good tool and opened an account."
Feng and his wife came to Beijing to meet with executives at Sina Weibo, China's largest micro-blogging website, in August.
"I knew that I should paste abundant notices with my daughter's photo and information," he said. "I tried asking for help from media and some advertising companies, but it was hard and expensive, which I couldn't afford."
But when he published information on missing children on his website and micro blog, he found it received more attention and elicited more responses from the public.
"The micro blog, which is not restricted by time and space, has much more influence on finding children," he added.
Bei Xiaochao, head of micro blog charities for Sina Weibo, said he admires Feng and gave him some tips on how to develop his micro blog to attract more netizens.
"Publishing information of missing children online can bring greater social effects," he said. "More people will pay attention and forward the information, while those who have tips will give feedback quickly."
Sina's micro-blog charity division also has cooperated with some fundraising organizations to solicit contributions online from the public, Bei said.
During Feng's visit to Beijing, he also met Deng Fei, a micro-blogger interested in charity, who sponsored this year's journey.
Feng's website has an advantage because all of the information is supplied by the children's parents, which is more efficient for finding missing kids, Bei said.
"I also suggested he record his experiences along the way and update his micro blog. I told him to publish more photos and collect information online, which can be followed easier through the Internet," he added.
Nan Xiaojing, a 45-year-old factory worker in Shanxi, said she was touched by Feng's story.
"Child trafficking also has happened in my factory. Two women riding motorcycles took one of my colleague's kids several years ago, but they were found later," she said. "If a family loses a child, the parents will be heavily burdened."
Nan said she will join the journey and make a contribution if Feng's truck comes to her area.
Taiyuan middle school teacher Liang Jiansheng, 45, said he does not think Feng's efforts will lead to more missing children being found.
"The search for a missing kid cannot only rely on residents themselves or some welfare organizations. Instead, it needs the government' attention and efforts," Liang said.
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(China Daily 11/21/2012 page5)