Over 10 years ago in China, a 43-year-old homeless man named Xiong Jianguo was digging through a garbage can looking for plastic bottles that he could sell when he heard a baby’s cry. He immediately went searching for what was making the sound and found a box with a baby girl wrapped in a blanket inside. With her was a note that simply read, “Was born on October 15, 2007”. Jianguo assumed that this poor baby was born to a family that didn’t want a girl so they simply threw her away.
At the time he found young Yanyan, they lived in a single room apartment with Jianguo’s wife. However since then, their home was demolished and his wife left him. Jianguo and Yanyan moved under a bridge in Nanchang City, China in 2012 when she was only 4 years old. Jianguo says, “No matter how hard it is, I intend to make sure that I raise her until she is old enough to stand on her own two feet.”
Fearing that this baby would not do well in one of the 40,000 overcrowded Chinese orphanages, Jianguo decided to keep the baby and raise her as his own daughter. He named her Yanyan.
Jianguo is concerned that she won’t be able to go to school because they do not have a set address. He is doing his best to teach her how to read and write and do basic arithmetic with the help of some of his other homeless friends. Jianguo himself only has a 3rd grade education because his parents died when he was young.
He says that Yanyan is very bright and a quick learner. She has even learned to recite poems and sagas as well, entertaining their neighbors under the bridge. They enjoy reading books and practicing lessons under the light of a street lamp.
Luckily Yanyan is a very healthy child despite being raised by a homeless man and has only fell ill once when she was 4 years old. They get money for food by collecting recyclables like cans and bottles, which barely make ends meet and they often don’t have enough food to eat, but Yanyan never complains. She says that, “As long as it is [her] father’s place, [she is] home.”
Every year on her birthday, the day that she was found in the garbage can, Jianguo takes Yanyan to a photo studio so she can have her picture taken so she can keep it as a memory of that special day. Xiong Jianguo has hopes for his daughter, that she will be able to get a steady job, and contribute to society.
With so many people desperate to have a child of their own to raise, it amazes me that people can have such disregard for a child’s life. There are thousands of people who would have loved to adopt Yanyan instead of throwing her away. If not for Jianguo finding her, she would have died in that garbage can. I’m so thankful for this man’s willingness to give her love even if he can’t provide more for this beautiful child. At least she has someone who is willing to give her everything he has and all the world she could ever want!