Beijing, Feb 7 (IANS) A 12-year-old Chinese girl has taken up a garbage collecting job to support her parents, both of them cancer patients.
Every day, Xiao Sheng carries 23 containers of waste in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui province, to a loading site where a truck takes away the garbage for treatment, Xinhua reported.
The containers weigh at least 50 kg each and the job is tiring, even for adults.
The girl has been doing this job for over a year, and is paid 800 yuan (around $130) a month.
The wages barely cover the basic needs for her family of four, including her father, stepmother and a half brother, who is only a year old.
Xiao's 56-year-old father was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011, when she was in the fifth grade.
She took over her father's job, spending two hours carrying garbage after school hours before rushing home to help her stepmother with household chores.
But towards the end of last year, her stepmother came down with anal cancer.
Xiao took up all the housework from then on.
Knowing they cannot afford high medical costs, her parents have rarely been able to seek medical attention. When her stepmother was in critical condition last month, residents donated 10,000 yuan for her emergency treatment.
The family comes from a rural area and is therefore not covered by urban social welfare programmes. It was not clear whether rural authorities have done anything for the family's welfare.
Xiao's meagre wage is the family's only income.
The family spends only 15 yuan a day on meals, often sharing a bowl of noodles.
To her father's relief, Xiao's spirit has not been dampened.
The sixth-grader is a straight-A student at school and never complains about her family's plight.
Her father is now planning to find foster families for his two children.
The family's plight and the girl's struggle have aroused widespread sympathy on the web.
Xue Manzi, an investor and microblogger with 10 million followers, has donated 15,000 yuan to the family.
Other sympathetic web users have also donated more than 100,000 yuan in total.