Daohui village, China
By William Hong
Every morning, as soon as Xie Juntu wakes up, he ties his grandson to a pillar. His aim, however, is not to torture the boy but to keep him safe and save the family from bankruptcy.
When I met him in the remote Chinese village of Daohui, Juntu’s grandson Guobiao looked like any other normal 11-year-old. The only difference was the rope that prevented him moving more than a few steps away from the place where he had been tied.
Juntu explained the situation. He said that when his daughter-in-law gave birth to Guobiao, a landslide blocked vehicles from leaving the village. It was a difficult labour. Four neighbours managed to carry the mother on foot to the nearest town with a maternity hospital, but it was too late to save the baby from suffering brain damage from lack of oxygen during the long birth.
Guobiao grew up with a mental disability and his “mischievous” behaviour meant his family spent a lot of time looking for him when he got lost playing in every possible corner of the village.
It also cost them a tremendous amount of money. They had to pay compensation for the damage Guobiao caused when he smashed neighbours’ windows and tore down tiles from their roofs with his bare hands.