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November 2, 2011

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'I want my girl to have a better life'

GE Cuifeng, 47, ayi in Shanghai

Ten years ago, Ge Cuifeng and her husband left rural Anhui Province to find work in Shanghai, leaving their 14-year-old daughter behind in the care of her mother-in-law.

"I have to leave her back in the countryside," says Ge whose home is near Xuancheng, a city famous for its rice paper. "Because my husband and I are so busy working in Shanghai, we have no time to care for her."

Ge works as a housekeeper and her husband is a carpenter working at construction sites. "She is my dearest daughter and sometimes I feel so guilty for not having her with me, but I go home at 8pm every night. If she were in Shanghai, she would have to cook for herself, but back home my mother-in-law can care for her," says Ge.

Ge and her husband bring their daughter, now in middle school, to Shanghai for summer vacation and they see the sights and do things together.

"But I really don't know what she is thinking, especially when we walk along the Bund and she remains silent. She might be thinking that all this prosperity has nothing to do with her and what she really wants is the presence of loving parents."

Sometimes Ge wants to quit her job and rush home.

"But then I have to convince myself that I am creating a better tomorrow for her. I don't want her to live the same way I do, as a laborer."


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