100-year-old ragpicking granny on the tramp for decades, homeless and childless; netizens’ comments

November 22, 2010Jing Gao3 Comments, , , , , , , , , ,

From QQ.com At noon on November 17, 2010, an old woman walking on South Wenchang Road in Guiyang with heavy waste paper cartons on her back. It captured the eyes of passers-by including me.

“Granny, you are not young, and you carry things so heavy?” The old woman didn’t reply right way. Instread, she took a break at the corner of Zhiyue road and said to the reporter and spectators, “I am 100 years old.”

Spectators praised her ability to bear such a heavy load at such an old age. When she was taking the rest, they tried  the load themselves. Some said it must be 40 kilos (44 pounds). Some said 50 kilos (55 pounds). A man who recycles garbage for a living  stopped by, and weighed the load with his steelyard. He said it exceeded 60 kilos (66 pounds), the maximum his steelyard can weigh.

The granny had to stop again because of the heavy burden after having walked for a while. She is very familiar with the alleyways and streets. Likewise, residents living along the alleyways and streets are also familiar with her.

Later on, the granny told me that her name is Tan Xiaozhen. She is illiterate. She came to the city of Guiyang from Sichuan Province before 1949. During all the past decades of her stay in Guiyang, she was alone. She never had a fixed residence. She lived under bridges, under roofs on street, or in makeshift huts on alleyways.

When the granny said she is 100 years old, I wanted to have a look at her ID. She said she never had any ID or hukou (family register), but really wished to have an identity recognized by others.

At the recycling station, on seeing the old woman come, young men were all earnestly helping her unload the cartons onto the scale.

From the moment I saw her on South Wenchang Road, until she arrived at the recycling station on South Fushui Road, she rested seven times, none of those longer than a minute. It took her more than 40 minutes to complete the entire trip.

Holding the money, the old woman said calmly that she bought these cartons from someone else, and she didn’t earn much. It was nearly 1:00 p.m. She hadn’t had lunch yet.

“75 kilos!” The  owner of the recycling station exclaimed. She paid the old woman at the highest unit price. People on the spot applauded her endurance.

“Granny, you should call it a day and go home. Can I visit your home?” “I don’t have a home,” she replied. Onlookers at the recycling station said to her encouragingly, “Don’t be afraid. At your age, you might get your basic living allowances after he visits your home. ”

As we all know, as a reporter, I can’t really guarantee her any solution to her problems or any benefits. I simply wish to visit her home and tell my readers what I see.

Finally, the granny swallowed her scruples and allowed me to visit her place. After a few twists and turns, I followed her to her place in an alley right beside Xinhua Road. It took another hour.

“This is my place!” The granny said to me. It’s a room spaced out at the turn of the dark alleyway, about five square meters(53 square feet) large. There is very little room besides a makeshift bed for sleep. There is hardly any furniture or equipment.

Selected comments from Chinese netizens:


In China, there are many many people like this granny…They wander on streets at three or four in the morning, searching for waste paper and waste materials. If they are late, these will have been recycled by sanitation workers, or other early birds will have caught the worms. At night, when most people are asleep, they come out again. When she was young, she was plagued by wars, hunger and poverty. Now it’s peacetime, she is still the same.
I truly wish the granny can have more happiness at her later years. We can’t count on other people to care about her. We can only hope that chengguan (Jing note: China’s city management and law enforcement personnel who are notorious in China for brutally and inhumanely treating street vendors and tramps, sometimes by beating them and other times by destroying their businesses, and driving them away) can leave her alone.
Please the photo journalist, please leave us the address of her place so that more kind-hearted people can donate money to her.
First, I am really happy to see that the granny, at the age of 100, is still healthy.
Second, it’s very touching and sad to know the 100-year-old is humping and bumping. Tears welled up in my eyes. Granny, wish you a healthy and long life.
Third, if possible, the report, please leave a contact information with your kind heart and let us help her. (Please don’t pour cold water on me. I know there are so many similarly miserable people out there that we can’t help them all. But if we see one and help one, we’ve got one.)
Fourth, I hope the government can offer a really good solution to this problem. We have seen it too much.
I ask for the detailed address. I can’t help with other things, but I can offer one or two hundred yuan. It can at least allow the granny to change a few items in her place.
Where is the party concerned?
I hope our country can take senior citizens who are alone and widowed seriously.
What kind of socialism is that? Alas! People have no one to bother about them even after they die, and we talk about basic living allowances? Alas!
Can the government stop fussing over the Olympics, the Asian Games and the World Expo? Money spent on those are enough for old people in China to die a decent death.

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3 comments to “100-year-old ragpicking granny on the tramp for decades, homeless and childless; netizens’ comments”

  1. bbbbbbbbbill | April 14, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    With her drive and determination, she could have been a real estate mongol

  2. Rosabella | December 18, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Hey, can i get the address where i can donate for the granny ?

  3. Dave | May 16, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    This fine lady is not a tramp. She is independent but deserves more from the community. She appears content but it would not be too much to ask to give her a home and lots more. The Chinese don’t ask for charity as they work damn hard. Total respect to you and we hope you are keeping well.

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