Photographer Liu Feiyue travels to Gansu Province to take family photos for “left-behind children” when their parents return for the Spring Festival. Liu provides each family with one framed 12-inch picture to hang up on the wall and three 6-inch photos for the parents and the children to take with them. Liu hopes these photos will help remind them of their family’s love. CDB has published the photos and translated their captions with the permission of the photographer.
This 70-year-old grandpa cooked for Xiamei for 6 years. Now, Xiamei has finally moved on to junior high school and grandpa continues to look after her little brother who still goes to primary school. Xiamei excels at school. There are several award certificates on the wall. Her parents work in far-off places like Xinjiang. The family only reunite during the Chinese new year.
Juanjuan and her brother study at the town primary school and look after themselves in a rented room. Their grandparents work at home as farmers to support them.
The 55-year-old grandma takes care of Juanjuan and her brother and sister. To support these three children, the parents have worked as migrant workers for six years, in Hubei Province for the first few years and at a construction site in Inner Mongolia recently. In this photo the family finally unites before the Spring Festival.
Meifeng, 5 years old, goes to a pre-school class. She and her 4-year-old brother are taken care of by their 70-year-old grandparents. Her parents work in Beijing. In this photo her mother has just returned from Beijing for the Spring Festival, bringing new clothes for her and her brother. After the Spring Festival, her mother will go back to Beijing.
Laoxu lives with his two grandsons in a rented room, less than 8 square meters large. He cooks and accompanies the two boys. The parents of the boys work in Inner Mongolia and visit only once a year during the Spring Festival.
This nearly 70 -year-old grandmother looks after Yunyun and her two brothers. Yunyun’s mother works in Xinjiang. She says she is used to hard work at home so she doesn’t find it too toilsome in Xinjiang. All she wants is to earn more money to support her three children’s education. Yunyun’s father has been a shepherd since he was 12 and has never worked outside of his hometown. Sheep didn’t sell well in 2015 and brought little profit. The New Year picture on the wall was bought in town by the father. It cost 6 RMB.
The old man used to cook for his grandson and granddaughter near the town primary school. Now, the granddaughter goes to a middle school in the county. The children’s father works in Inner Mongolia to support them and their mother died of an illness. The children didn’t waste their efforts and excel at school.
Xueyan is in fifth grade now, and she is first in her class. She and her brother have been looked after by their 70-year-old grandfather. Her sister is in middle school, and her mother works in Beijing. This year she brought 25000 RMB back after working in a restaurant for 7 months.
Juan finally meets her parents during the Spring Festival. The grandparents look after her and her siblings while their parents work in Xinjiang. The parents only come back to reunite with their family for the Festival.
The little boy’s mother got sick after his birth and cannot take care of him. He studies at the town primary school and has been looked after by his grandmother. His father is a local farmer.
The child’s parents left for work only a few months after his birth. Grandma has often carried the baby for walks over the last year. The parents returned for the Spring Festival and will leave for work again after this short get-together.
The three girls sell clothes in Beijing and are normally very busy at work. The whole family only unites for the Chinese new year.
The old couple’s two granddaughters came back to visit the family just before the Spring Festival. They work in Tianjin. The eldest one brought her own husband and child. The three girls grew up in the mountains, but they have left the mountains and have their own lives.
Laoyu’s family get together in their hometown during the Chinese New Year. Laoyu works in Inner Mongolia. His eldest son works in Lanzhou and his second son works in Hubei. The youngest one has been a migrant worker for the longest time, since he was 26. They came back to their hometown from different provinces, and soon they will lock the door and leave again for work.
A 70-year-old man rents a house near the town primary school, 20 kms from home, to stay with his two grandsons. His son and daughter in law work in Xinjiang and have come home to see them for the Spring Festival.
The old man’s son works in Baotou (Inner Mongolia). He returned just before the Spring Festival. The old man looks after the child. The old man’s father was a Red Army soldier and moved here from Sichuan Province.
Liao Yijia has returned to his hometown from Xinjiang. The whole family works in Xinjiang and his son was born in Xinjiang as well. They will not return to Xinjiang after the Spring Festival and will seek another big city to work in. When the new school term begins, the old man will accompany the children to the town primary school. But he is concerned whether the school will admit the children since it is not a new academic year.
Laoyang has herded sheep in the mountains for all his life. His wife works far away and his two sons work in Beijing. During the year Laoyang is alone at home and waits for the occasion for a family reunion during the Spring Festival. The sheep didn’t sell well and he has only earned 7000 RMB this year.
The father worked in Xinjiang seven years ago and died in a car accident. The child’s mother has left home with his two sisters. His grandfather just said calmly: “Seven people have become three”. The old new year picture on the wall says “together forever”.
The elderly couple’s grandson and granddaughter in law work far from their hometown. The four generations unite for the Spring Festival.
Huihui and his sister finally meet their father, who works in Xinjiang. Last year, when his parents left, he wrote on the wall at night: “Dad, I love you and mom, I love you.”