Sunday, May 29, 2016

Alexandra Ma: Chinese Kids Scale A 2,600-Foot Cliff To Get To School

Never complain about your commute again. Recent footage of Chinese schoolchildren scaling a treacherous, 2,600-foot cliff to get to school is shocking social media users worldwide. The dangers facing the dozen or so schoolchildren — all of whom are between the ages of 6 and 15, and hail from a remote, impoverished village in Sichuan — first gained widespread attention after Beijing News, a state-owned local newspaper, featured the photos earlier this week.

Children can be seen climbing a rickety ladder with no harness up an almost vertical mountain. Most of them are bare-handed, and none of them appear to be wearing any safety gear. The journey takes about 90 minutes uphill and an hour downhill, Beijing News noted. “Every single climb felt like rubbing shoulders with death,” said photographer Chen Jie, who accompanied the children on the commute and captured the harrowing images for Beijing News. About seven or eight people have died as a result of this journey, the village chief told the newspaper.

“This has to be fake!” one user exclaimed on Weibo. “Doesn’t our mighty country receive millions of dollars in international aid every year? How can it not even build a road for young village schoolchildren?” “The government is turning a blind eye to this plight,” another user wrote. Part of the reason these children have to make this life-threatening journey is that their village can’t afford proper infrastructure, according to Chen. County authorities have tried to build a road in the area, but the project grew too expensive for the government and the impoverished villagers.

“I hope the story that my photos tell will ultimately bring some change,” Chen said. Some 1,200 miles away, schoolchildren in Nepal face similar obstacles. Many kids in the country’s remote mountainous regions have to cross rivers by pulling themselves along suspension wires — a method that’s cost some children their fingers, and others their lives.
Watch a video of the terrifying journey: