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Many city dwellers, including myself, complain and curse whenever the bus or train is late or breaks down mid-commute, causing us to be late for school or work. We often forget that we are in fact very lucky to be able to commute on public transport. Some children living in the suburbs or countryside spend hours on foot, some even have to cross mountains or rivers just to get to school.

Somewhere in Yibin City of Szechuan Province, China, a 66-year-old granny covers four kilometers of mountain roads on foot each day to send her handicapped granddaughter to school. That in itself is already an amazing feat, but the incredible thing is, they have never been late for school!

Fang Mei Qiu, now 14 years old, was born with abnormal kneecaps which cause her unbearable pain even while just standing for a few minutes with the help of crutches. Due to her condition, she has difficulty walking, and always needs help whenever she moves around. When Fang Mei was just two years old, her father left home, and her mother subsequently remarried. Fang Mei was then entrusted in the care of her grandparents. Her grandfather is old and sickly, so the small family is heavily dependent on grandma’s care.

In order to get to school by 8:30am, grandma wakes up at around 5am in the morning, makes necessary preparations, and then leaves the house with Fang Mei on her back at 7am. It takes Fang Mei and grandma almost one and a half hours to travel two kilometers (1.24 miles) on foot, stopping to rest at least five times during the journey. They take the same route back home after school.

▼ Fang Mei wipes away grandma’s perspiration.
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Hiking two kilometers on uneven mountainous roads would be a tiring task for a healthy youth, much less for a 66-year-old granny. Not to mention, she has to carry Fang Mei, who weighs about 40kg (88lbs), and the weight of the girl’s school bag as well. The loving grandma has been taking Fang Mei to school for five years, so that adds up to over 4000km (2,485bmiles) travelled on foot! And they’ve never been late for school!

Grandma mentions that she worries about how Fang Mei will get by when the elderly couple passes on, revealing that she often wakes up in the middle of the night from a recurring nightmare of Fang Mei slipping on a muddy puddle on her way to school and she tries to reach out to help her struggling granddaughter, but Fang Mei can’t reach her hand.

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Fang Mei knows that the commute is extremely tiring for her elderly grandmother, and tries to support her weight on two hand-crafted bamboo crutches, also making the effort to walk for as long as she can so that grandma can get more rest. She also says that she knows she has to study hard so that her grandmother’s efforts will not go to waste. Fang Mei has a dream of drawing a picture of the route they take to school and her grandparents in a lovely home, and she wishes to give that drawing to her grandmother to thank her for fulfilling her dream of going to school.

Fortunately, after their story was picked up by the media, the local authorities have arranged for the family of three to move to a place situated in the vicinity of the school. They have also made arrangements to prepare a wheelchair for Fang Mei so that she can have more freedom of movement without depending on her granny. On top of that, the authorities have also called for the assistance from local medical institutions to see if there is hope in improving Fang Mei’s condition.

Source: ETtoday
Images: NEWSSC.org