One hundred students from Nanjing gathered at the S9 Xiangyu South metro station, on 4 February, to board the Happy Train, bound for the southern countryside of Nanjing. The students were off to the district of Gaochun to meet with 100 “left behind children”.
Dubbed Young Pioneers, they were a part of an integration activity, whereby urban and rural children integrated by gathering in classrooms and engaging in a range of activities; handwritten letters and gifts were exchanged as well.
The idea is taken from a book entitled Happy Train, which describes a budding relationship between urban and rural children, focused on encouraging a positive attitude between the two. The event is sponsored by the Nanjing Young Workers’ Commission and is in connection with the Youth Work Committee’s Sunflower Plan.
Left Behind Children, refers to a rising social disorder in China, whereby children born by rural parents are left behind in villages when their parents migrate to the city for work, often never seeing their parents again or at best once a year. Reports show that as a result of China’s recent One Child Policy and the Chinese matriarchal tradition that places more importance on boys; mothers are more likely to leave girls than boys.
As reported by Zhou Huixin for The Epoch Times, “A law professor at Beijing Normal University [in 2016], estimated at a meeting in Tianjin that the total number of left-behind children was 100 million, of whom more than 60 million were left in rural areas and over 36 million went to cities with their parents”.
Damaging effects as a result of the abandonment problem results in mental instability, accidental injury, sexual assault and in some cases, suicide. Multiple cases of child suicide through the drinking of pesticides have been reported in Chinese mediain addition to juvenile delinquency.
Therefore, initiatives such as the Young Pioneers activity run by the workers’ commission greatly assist in bridging the extraordinarily large gap between urban and rural left behind children.