LouWe are hearing more and more about the harassment of women in China who come to the attention of authorities because of a forbidden second or third pregnancy — and thank goodness for the social media that are making their plight known. But we do not hear so much about the heroism of Chinese women who manage to preserve life and dignity under enormously difficult conditions.

This week an exception has come to light, and the word seems to have got around through official (newspaper) channels — despite showing public authorities in a poor light. The Huffington Post picked up this inspiring story:

According to Chinese newspaper Yanzhao Metro Daily88-year-old Lou Xiaoying has rescued more than 30 abandoned babies from the streets of Jinhua, China, over the past four decades.

Together with her late husband, who died 17 years ago, Lou personally raised four of the orphaned children, while others were taken in by Lou’s family and friends.

Lou has lived her whole life in dire poverty, and it was while she was out scavenging for discarded items she could sell that she found her first baby:

“The whole thing started when I found the first baby, a little girl back in 1972 when I was out collecting rubbish. She was just lying amongst the junk on the street, abandoned. She would have died had we not rescued her and taken her in,” Lou said, according to the Daily Mail.

“Watching her grow and become stronger gave us such happiness and I realized I had a real love of caring for children. I realized if we had strength enough to collect garbage how could we not recycle something as important as human lives,” she continued.

Lou showed incredible love for the children and dedication to their welfare through to old age:

Lou, who has one biological daughter, single-handedly adopted her sixth child — a little boy she had found in a dumpster — at the age of 82.

“Even though I was already getting old I could not simply ignore the baby and leave him to die in the trash. He looked so sweet and so needy. I had to take him home with me,” she said of her adopted son, 7-year-old Qiling.

Now that Lou is dying her story has come out in public — even in China’s leading official newspaper — she is being hailed as a heroine.

According to the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua, Lou is still thinking of her beloved children even after becoming so ill that she has almost lost the ability to speak and move.

“I don’t have many days left [but] what I want to see most of all is for…[7-year-old Qiling] to go to school. That way, even after I am gone, there will be no regrets left in my life,” she told Xinhua from her hospital bed.

Although poverty would be a contributing factor, it seems likely that many of these children would have been abandoned because of the one child policy — which itself seems to have done little to relieve the poverty of people like Lou.

The UK Daily Mail reports that a premature baby girl was found in a rubbish bin last week at Anshan city, in northeast China’s Liaoning province — alive, but with her throat cut. Because the cut was shallow and the baby was discovered in time her life was saved.

The incident has horrified China, but it is people like Lou (and let’s hope there are more of them) who will turn the hearts of people away from such terrible remedies for their problems. 

Thanks to Mary Cooney for the heads-up.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet