ZHEJIANG PROVINCE, CHINA – Lou Xiaoying has been called a hero for rescuing over 30 abandoned babies in the streets of Jinhua, in eastern Zhejiang province in China. Lou herself has made a living by collecting and recycling rubbish in her village. It is amongst the garbage and in the streets that she finds the babies. Despite living in poverty for countless years, Lou has never allowed her own situation to stop her from rescuing the children.
Lou stated that she began rescuing children in 1972 when she was out collecting rubbish. She noticed a baby girl lying amongst the garbage in the street and she simply could not stand to leave the child alone. Fearing that the child would die, Lou scooped up the baby and returned home with her.
Regarding this first child, Lou has stated that “Watching her grow and become stronger gave us such happiness and I realized I had a real love of caring for children.”
She further said, “I realized if we had strength enough to collect garbage how could we not recycle something as important as human lives.”
Since that first day, Lou and her late husband Li Zin, have raised four of the children and placed others into the families of friends. Each child is found somewhere on the streets or in garbage bins, left alone by their parents. But saving abandoned children does not end with Lou and her husband. Lou’s own biological daughter, Zhang Caiying has also devoted much of her life to raising found children. Furthermore, Lou’s other children are also caring for the babies found by Lou. The extended family has very little money to spare, but they still manage to care for dozens of children.
Life has not been easy living with so many children. At one point there were 12 members of the family living in a deserted temple on the outskirts of Jinhua, 200 miles south of Shanghai. Living “off-the-grid” has complicated matters for the children due to China’s strict household registration system. Furthermore, Lou is now suffering from kidney disease and remains hospitalized. Nevertheless, despite all these challenges, the family carries on.
Lou’s most recent adoption occurred when she was 82 years old. Her now healthy and thriving seven-year-old grandson was found in a dustbin. Despite her old age, Lou knew she could not leave him. Once again, Lou picked up the child and brought him home, just she had been for the last 30 years. She named him Zhang Qilin, using the Chinese word for rare and precious.
The children that Lou finds in the streets are most likely the victims of China’s One-Child Policy Act. Second-born children or any undesirable baby may be the victim of infanticide. Infanticide is still a major problem in rural areas where girls may not be wanted or families cannot afford to feed another mouth. For some thirty lucky children, Lou Xiaoying has been nothing short of a guardian angel. Some still point out that there are thousands of discarded children across China. Yet for people like Lou, she leaves behind a legacy for others to follow.
– Grace Zhao