Getting kicked when they’re down

(This is probably the last Chinese New Year post.)

Chinese New Year may be even bigger than Christmas. It’s also the only time of the year when the millions of migrant workers – whose backbreaking labour for often less-than-promised wages is building China’s booming cities – get to return to their villages and see their families. Millions choose this life over trying to eke out an existence in their hometowns.

This video is a folk song for the migrant workers set to images from this year’s New Year’s migration and the chaos that came with it. At the worst possible time of year – the onset of the world’s biggest annual migration – severe snowstorms crippled China’s vulnerable train and power systems. Three electrical workers died while trying to restore power. The situation at the train stations was so bad that the Chinese PM apologized to stranded crowds at a train station in person. English translation of the lyrics is below.

“Returning Home 2008″

Windy Snow
I am on my way home
Mom is sleeping by the road
She was expecting I would be home
My old village looks run down in the winter
We migrant workers are away from home and working all over the country
We are the migratory birds of this time
Fly over the freezing walls, fly and fly…
The dreams are with us on the way home
Fly over neon lights, fly and fly…
I am missing you when I am going home

Father is really getting old
His hair is turning gray
He is waiting for me at the door…
Fly over the freezing walls, fly and fly…
[translation found here]

There’s video all over YouTube about the storm and resultant hardship. Here’s one that gives a taste of the situation at the train stations, as everyone, not just migrant workers, tries to go home for the holidays.

4 thoughts on “Getting kicked when they’re down”

  1. hey, I haven’t had a chance to read all your latest posts, but I do see that Jessica has only posted two of the promised 5 postings. I’m still waiting. I want to get my money’s worth out of this subscription!

    miss you guys

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