Monday, April 23, 2012

Young Workers at a Restaurant in Zhuhai, China

two girls talking to each other at lunch in Zhuhai, China

I met the two girls taking a lunch break above because they worked at an inexpensive local restaurant I frequented in Zhuhai. Almost any day from before lunch until after 8pm I could count on seeing them there taking orders, serving food, cleaning up, and more.

The girl in the striped shirt left the restaurant after I had been in Zhuhai for a couple of weeks. I later discovered her working at a nearby hair salon. I had several light conversations with the other girl and found out that she was about 15 years old. If that sounds young for someone to be working full time keep in mind that she had been working there for two years.

In my explorations across China I have met other girls who are also working full time at a young age. Sometimes it is the costs of high school (yes, it is not entirely free even in "Communist" China). Sometimes it is a family's need for additional income. And sometimes this additional income is primarily to support the education of a younger brother who may one day be a bread winner and source of pride for the parents. Whatever the case, they are sacrificing their education and the opportunities it could possibly bring.

Although many people may consider their situation unfair, it is not uncommon to hear them speak about their lives in very pragmatic terms. Though, typically more revealing thoughts and emotions can be found if one carefully digs deeper. But if you ask the girl on the right what she wants most now she will answer without hesitation.

Money. And what she realistically hopes for is probably far less than someone in a country such as the U.S. would guess.

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