Text by Wang Nan Photographs by Fan Jingcheng/OFPIX
Chongxian is a nondescript village in Longyao County, Xingtai City, in northern China’s Hebei Province. Having developed tremendous curiosity about the outside world, many of its youngsters made an exodus to Beijing seeking better employment. Struggling in the metropolis far from home, the outsiders tend to stick together and form a support network. Magnolia Community Center is a Beijing-based charity with a mission to assist female migrant workers and children in the community.
Twelve-lane Chang’an Avenue and countless skyscrapers such as the 78-story World Trade Center testify to the prosperity and modernity of the capital. But, to whom does the prosperous modern city belong? Certainly, it doesn’t belong to the city’s migrant residents who toil away every day and night in production lines or restaurants. Even they consider themselves “strangers” to the city. Unlike their fathers, this generation of migrant workers, who began to swarm into cities in unprecedented numbers after the year 2000, planned on never returning to their rural hometowns. They’re unwilling and incapable of farm work, so they flock to the cities for better jobs. However, they have a hard time assimilating into the urban lifestyle.
Can they devise a way to rescue themselves from meager incomes and cultural isolation as youngsters from Chongxian Village did? Should they seek help from charitable organizations such as Magnolia Community Center? The new generation of migrant workers requires answers to such burning questions.?