Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sichuan Baby Boom

China is coming up on a painful anniversary in a few days. With that day comes a wave of newly-born babies.

From The Los Angeles Times:

May 3, 2009 Reporting from Mianzhu, China -- Ten months and 25 days after he buried his only child, Luo Gang became a father again at a makeshift hospital cobbled out of aluminum trailers.

For weeks after his 11-year-old daughter was killed in last May's massive earthquake here in Sichuan province, his wife cried so uncontrollably that her family feared she might be having a breakdown.

"If you don't have another baby, my sister will be grieving her whole life," Luo said his brother-in-law advised him.

Luo said he was shocked by the tactlessness of the suggestion.

"We were in a bad way after the earthquake. My wife couldn't stop crying," recalled Luo, a 35-year-old welder, his eyes sunken deep with fatigue after a long night waiting for his wife to give birth to their son. He spoke outside the hospital room where his perfect little baby, born a few hours before, lay wrapped in bunting in a metal bassinet next to his mother, both sleeping contentedly.

"Now, we are better. A new life has been created to take the place of the one that was taken away."

Read On
This article highlights a couple aspects why this tragedy is particularly hard for the Sichuanese:
Sichuan has long been a battleground over the policy, with the government strictly enforcing the one-child limit. (In many other parts of China, farmers can have a second child if the first is a girl, but not in Sichuan.)

Among Sichuan's predominantly rural population, most people have no retirement plans other than the long-ingrained Chinese tradition that children care for their elders.

"The earthquake very much highlights the vulnerability of the one-child policy," said Gu Baochang, a professor of demographics at People's University in Beijing.

"These people are not covered by any social security program. They rely completely on their children for elderly support. And it's not just money. Once they are old, without children they have no place in society."
The parents who now have the opportunity to remake their lives with new children must have such conflicting emotions.

How sad the affected areas of Sichuan must be.

There are so many circumstances about China and Sichuan Province that made last year's earthquake more devastating than it would've been elsewhere. It really is hard to see how many of the people whose lives were destroyed last year will be able to pick up the pieces and move forward.

I'll surely be highlighting and talking about more articles relating to last year's earthquake as May 12th approaches.

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