One story that has been making rounds on Chinese social media is a call for donations for a cancer-stricken woman who has rescued more than 100 abandoned children in a town in Hebei province.
43-year-old Li Lijuan adopted her 118th child in November, despite battling against cancer. According to local media, Li adopted a girl she found abandoned in a ravine while on the way to a mine she opened in the western part of her hometown, Wu’an (武安) in May 1996. Since that first rescue, Li has continued welcoming abandoned kids and sending them to her own home, earning her the title “Loving Mother” (爱心妈妈 àixīn māmā). Even her own village got popular for her acts of kindness and is now called the “Love Village” (民建福利爱心村 Mín jiàn fúlì àixīn cūn, literally “Civilian Welfare Village”).
Li considers every one of the 118 children as her own. The lady told a local news website that many of the children were abandoned babies left directly at the village entrance, while others had various health problems. She added that none of those children died, and that she tried to bring every one of them to school. Now, six of the rescued children already married, 11 are in college, and 13 in high school.
English-language news outlet Shanghaiist reported that Li was a successful businesswoman in the 1990s and had a son from her previous marriage. After recovering from a serious car accident, Li found out her husband used their wealth for drugs. She divorced him, but he sold their son to a trafficker. Li managed to get her son back after paying RMB 8,000 (approximately USD 1,230). She recovered her losses and eventually opened a mine in 1996 when she found her first adoptee. Li was forced to close the mine down in 2008. Three years later, she was diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that usually spreads to the lungs, liver, and brain.
Li’s health has since deteriorated, which prompted her to seek assistance from a Shanghai-based children’s charity to help her adoptees. The charity eventually partnered with other local organizations and launched a fundraiser on Tencent Charity for Li and her village. They are targeting to raise RMB 3 million (USD 462,360) for the abandoned babies, most of whom have congenital diseases, and for other health and developmental needs of the other children.
As of publishing, the fundraiser has achieved almost RMB 400,000 (USD 61,600) – or 14 percent of the goal – from around 10,000 donors. The donation drive is being done on Tencent Charity’s website (in Chinese, click here to visit the site) under the name 让爱托起弃婴的未来 (Ràng àituō qǐ qìyīng de wèilái, literally “Let love hold the abandoned baby’s future out”). You can access the donation page via WeChat by tapping “Tencent Charity” in your WeChat Wallet page and typing the above Chinese name.
“Love Village is not a ‘welfare place’ but a home that has more family members,” Li Lijuan told a local news outlet, adding that she wants the abandoned children to know that they have a “home” and a “mother.”