Ms. Hu, a factory worker in Dongguan, was one of dozens of parents who sent their child to a Child Friendly Space in their factory this summer. The factory implemented this programme to advance the wellbeing of their parent workers, by offering free childcare and a means for migrant parents to spend the summer with their left-behind children.
Throughout the year, Ms. Hu’s ten-year-old son lives with his great-grandparents in another city. Last summer, his older brother looked after him but this year that was not an option.
Fortunately, Ms. Hu learnt from the factory's WeChat group and work meetings that the factory was planning to open a CFS, accessible to all staff free of charge. At the CFS, there would also be designated teachers looking after the children. Ms. Hu decided to send her younger child to the CFS so that he could spend the summer with her and her husband in Dongguan.
Ms. Hu said: “His great-grandpa was a bit nervous at the beginning. I assured him that I've been working at the factory since 2014, and the factory is opening a very good CFS. Now, every day when we go to work, I take my child with me to the CFS. The CFS staff are very diligent. They open the door for us and take the children's temperatures. The teachers are very responsible. If children are being naughty or do not feel well, they let us parents know. Sometimes, when we are on break, we can go and check in on our children.
My child likes CFS very much. Every morning, he gets ready for CFS excitedly. Sometimes even on weekends, he asks whether the CFS is open. When great grandpa called, he responded, ‘I am very happy here. There are so many children that I can play with.’ We also feel at ease at work.”
In the past, Ms. Hu could only visit her younger child once or twice a year. The child also missed his parents very much. Every time his parents visited home, he rushed to meet them and said, “Mum, mum, I am so glad to see you!” However, Ms. Hu and her husband were often busy at work. They could only go back to their hometown during the Spring Festival holiday and other public holidays.
Parting was always hard. The child said: “Every time when we parted, I was very sad. It hurt as if there were needles stabbing me. I had this feeling in my chest that I can't describe. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't.” This year, thanks to the CFS, the family got to spend the whole summer together. “It feels as sweet as a lollipop!” the child said joyfully.
The factory also organised a family day, so that parent workers could spend more time with their children and bond. Ms. Hu and her child participated in the 'Balloon Rely Race'. In the game, the parents have to use their legs to move the balloon and pass it on to the child. The child holds the balloons with their arms and passes it to the parent again. They need to complete a total of three laps. Ms. Hu's child was competitive, and he wanted to be the 'adult'. When the game started, he immediately used his legs instead of arms to hold the balloon. This gave Ms. Hu so much joy that she couldn't stop laughing.
The was the first time for Ms. Hu to participate in a parent-child activity like this. “I’m so happy to try out activities like this, because I rarely get such an opportunity. I realise that we should participate in such activities more often, and parents should spend more time playing with their children.'
As the CFS came to an end, both Ms. Hu and her child found it hard to say goodbye. Ms. Hu hopes to send her child to the CFS again if the factory opens it again next year.
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