China children climb ladders, cliffs to get to school

    6:45 AM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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    SANGZI, China (CNN) -- It's never easy to go to and back from school for Yu Qiyun, a middle school student from a remote village in central China, as he has to climb up and down two ladders that stand against a cliff on his way.

    The 14-year-old student together with his younger sister attends school in town that lies 35 kilometers away from his home at Zhangjiawan Village, in Sangzhi County, Hunan Province. They go back to the village, which is besieged by mountains and poverty-stricken, to reunite with families at the end of each month.

    The two wooden ladders they have to pass measure about 20 meters, serving as the only way out to the outside world. They stand vertically against a cliff among the mountains.

    Yu and his sister has to climb them barehanded, turning their way back home risky. Several days ago, Yu's sister slipped while climbing up a ladder, below which is a 70-meter deep pit. Her mother, who was with her back then, saved her by grabbing her arm in no time.

    "It makes my legs shivering. I dare not look down when I was climbing upstairs just now because I felt frightened," said Li Wei, Yu Qiyun's teacher who was on a home visit to Yu's parents.

    Yu's treks to and back from school will turn even more dangerous in rainy days as the ladders will become more slippery.

    Yu's grandfather, who is a carpenter, is one of the makers of the ladders. He said he could hardly remember how many ladders he had made.

    "I could hardly recall how many ladders we've made. Villagers have been using the ladders to go out and back home for a very long time. Now, we make a new ladder each five years," said Yu Datao, Yu Qiyun's grandfather in his 70s.

    The inconvenient transportation has left Yu's grandmother Yang Yulan stranded at home for over 20 years. "I have been staying among the mountains since 1989," Yang said.

    With the outside, according to Yu Youquan, Yu Qiyun's father, who doesn't wish to go to towns and cities to find jobs.

    He makes some money by collecting and selling a sort of green leaves that can be used to make zongzi, also known as Chinese glutinous rice dumplings.

    "We have clean air and water here. We can make a living by collecting the green leaves, so if a road can be built, our life will be better, even better than the fellow villagers who go to work in cities," said Yu Youquan.

    Yu Qinyun, who loves his families very much, said he was determined to study hard and go out to earn enough money to build a road for his families and also for his fellow villagers.

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