Chai Shanshan, 33, a migrant who works for China Post in Shanghai, said he feels both humbled and excited as a new deputy to the National People’s Congress, currently meeting in Beijing.
Chai is a deputy representing migrant workers at on-going session of the NPC. He said he is there to voice the need for better housing and educational opportunities for migrants.
“As a new deputy, I’ll listen, see and learn, while offering my own ideas,” Chai said.
He knows about the travails of being a migrant worker from personal experience. He arrived in Shanghai from his rural hometown in 2004 and was lucky enough to become a postal worker.
“I’m from the village of Laohekou in Hubei Province, where there were mud lanes for roads,” he said. “I have two sisters at home. After I graduated from a vocational school, I went to work to raise money for my sisters’ education.”
“In the early days, I had to send most of my earnings home and keep only basic living expenses.
“When I caught a cold or fever, I didn’t have enough money to afford the medical fees,” Chai told Shanghai Daily.
Still, he said Shanghai felt welcoming when he moved to the city.
Veteran workers at China Post helped Chai and other workplace newcomers find their footing. After work, when Chai and his colleagues returned to their residence, an old landlord always greeted them with a thermos of hot water.
Kindness begets kindness. Chai and fellow migrants vowed that they would help others, just as others had helped them.
In an age before computerized routes, Chai and his colleagues at a China Post transit station had to memorize all the railway routes used in postal delivery.