The Death of Wang Fengya: A Cruel Story of Rural Families in China

The death of Wang Fengya

This year, lots of Chinese netizens learned this name: Wang Fengya. She was two years and nine months old and she was suffered with “Eye cancer”, which is called “Bilateral ocular endoblastoma”. Born in a rural family in Henan Province, her family can’t afford the medical expenses for the treatments. Donations came from the whole nation to help this unfortunate family out. However, because of the death of Wang Fengya, the story changed into a twisted version under cyberbullying.

A Little Girl with Cancer

Wang Fengya’s mother, Yang Meiqin, always believed that all cancers were fatal. In her experience, none of the cancer patients have ever survived.

Wang Fengya and her mother

Wang Fengya and her mother

When Yang Meiqin noticed that her daughter’s right eye was a little odd, she would never connect it with cancer. She even “borrowed” her nephew’s identity—Yang Meiqin’s family doesn’t have any medical insurance at that time, but her brother’s family did. When the doctor told Yang Meiqin that her daughter might have “cancer”, she had to tell the doctor Wang Fengya’s real identity, because Wang Fengya might need to transfer to a bigger hospital in the city.

Doctor Zhang Kaihua started an argument with Yang Meiqin. It was very common that in the rural areas in China, people borrowed each other’s identity to defraud the medical insurance.

Because of Yang Meiqin’s behavior, some media and netizens labeled her as one of those parents who “preferring boys to girls”, or “charity fraud”, though some people believed that she did it because of the poverty and “lack of experience dealing with city life”.

One medical newsletter “Dingxiang Doctor” interviewed Yang Meiqin and her family upon this case. “I thought what she had done were beyond ridiculous.” One of the journalists said, “However after I talked face to face with Yang Meiqin, I realized that I could never imagine and understand how hard her life was, and how many difficulties she was facing.”

A Family in Poverty

Yang Meiqin was born in a poor family in Wen Liang Kou Village. This village is famous for its acrobat performances. Yang Meiqin used to be an acrobat performer too before she gave birth to Wang Fengya.

When Yang Meiqin was 8 years old, she decided to quit school and learn acrobat. By that time, she was living with her parents and one older brother in a hut which can’t even shelter them from the rain. When her neighbor told her that performing acrobat can bring her more than 100 Yuan a month, Yang Meiqin decided to do something she could for the family.

Until Yang Meiqin was 16 years old, she was finally able to make money. Her stages were caravans, schools, and even karaoke halls. Yang Meiqin even supported her brother’s house building.

In Wen Liang Kou Village, lots of young girls shared the similar fates with Yang Meiqin. In Wen Liang Kou Village, most of the families can perform acrobats. The performers made an average of 15 thousand Yuan annual income.

When Yang Meiqin’s parents thought it was about time for her to get married, they set up a traditional country style blind date, where Yang Meiqin met Wang Hui, who became her husband later. Yang Meiqin thought Wang Hui could “make a good husband”. However, until she was pregnant with her first child, she didn’t know that Wang Hui had mental retardation. He can barely do anything for the family or communicate with others. Even when Wang Hui tried to be a construction worker and trained with his mother, he needed to be told step by step of what to do.

That was why Yang Meiqin kept her job in the acrobats performing team. She gave birth to three children before she was pregnant again with Wang Fengya. She was still performing wire walking in the first fourth months of her pregnancy. Her boss allowed her to leave the team until she can’t fit into the costume anymore.

Wang fengya's family received the donation

Wang fengya’s family received the donation

After Wang Fengya was born, Zhou Meiqin lost her job position and income in the acrobat performing group. She also did some farming work. But the farms only brought her about one thousand Yuan a year. Her husband Wang Hui worked as a security staff in the nearby city. His monthly salary was about 2,000 Yuan. They didn’t have any savings.

According to a few pictures taken by the journalists of Dingxiang Doctor, the place Yang Meiqin’s family living can barely be called a shelter. Their kitchen was handmade firewood stove with a few old cookware, next to a bunch of hays. As for the toilet, it was just a blue plastic bucket behind their house.

Yang Meiqin’s father-in-law was absolutely the breadwinner of the family. That was why he made most of the decisions. Yang Meiqin’s father-in-law used to be a school teacher, but he was expelled from the school for “making 6 extra children”. Under Family Planning Policy (aka. One child policy), each family in the rural areas can have maximums, two children. Obsessed with the idea of “having a boy to pass on the family name”, Yang Meiqin’s parents-in-law gave birth to 6 daughters until they finally had a boy. Yang Meiqin’s situation was similar. She had four girls before she gave birth to the youngest brother. Considering she was a mother from rural areas in Henan Province, people automatically labeled her as “preferring boys to girls”, which brought her endless nightmares and bullying in the future.

A Twisted Story under Cyber Bullying

A family like it probably can’t stay calm when they found out that it was cancer they were facing.

Some neighbors of Yang Meiqin suggested her to live stream Wang Fengya’s daily life on the platform. So they could use the tips from the audience to pay for the medical bills. The volunteers also told her that she should start a donation request on Shui Di Chou (Water Drop Fundraising) again.

Yang Meiqin never expected that she would be involved in this “online morality war” as an ordinary village woman. When all the volunteers questioned her why didn’t she take her daughter to big hospitals in Beijing, she could only tear and say, “I can’t do that.”
Yang Meiqin can read, but not very well. Sometimes she could recognize the characters but can’t understand long and complex sentences. She can’t type. So she usually recorded what she wanted to say to the phone, then converted it to texts.

The Writer Chen Lan Started the Rumour

The Writer Chen Lan Started the Rumour

Yang Meiqin started to slowly explain everything to the volunteers. She told them how she understood Wang Fengya’s current statue and the disease she was suffering from. “But they disagreed with me.” Yang Meiqin sobbed when she said it, “they kept pushing me to take Fengya to Beijing like the cancer was as easy as a cold.”

Yang Meiqin ended the fundraising when she received 23,116 Yuan on Shui Di Chou. “No one can cure my daughter’s cancer. What do I need that money for?” When the volunteers asked her what was her plan for the next step, Yang Meiqin told them that she decided to keep doing conservative treatment for Wang Fengya at this point. She wanted to spend some of that money to buy Wang Fengya nice things and fulfill her last wishes.

Volunteers turned against Yang Meiqin. They told Yang Meiqin that she must take Wang Fengya to Beijing. And they had already contacted a hospital for her.

For Yang Meiqin and her family, it wasn’t a pleasant journey at all. The volunteers who went to Henan to pick them up apparently didn’t trust Yang Meiqin. They were constantly changing their plans. After the entire unexpected plan changes, Yang Meiqin and her family gradually lost patience and their trusts on the volunteers too.

When they arrived in Beijing, both the sides tried to make things happen in their own ways. Their conflicts dramatically raised between them.

The media interviewed Wang Fengya’s doctor, Zhao Junyang in Beijing Children’s Hospital about her situation at that time. “I wasn’t at the scene when Wang Fengya first came to the hospital. But I heard from the reception hospital that she didn’t look well. But her parents didn’t register for her in the hospital. One of our doctors registered for her. When her (Wang Fengya) parents heard that she might need chemotherapy, they just left the hospital. And we never saw her again.”

At last, Yang Meiqin took Wang Fengya home. One volunteer called “Writer Chen Lan” posted a “notice for missing person” on Weibo, which soon drew people’s attention. It was also the start of Yang Meiqin’s nightmare.

“We are looking for the 2 years old girl Wang Fengya. Her parents gave up on her because of her cancer.” The “notice for missing person” on Weibo said so.

Yang Meiqin felt wronged. “I have never given up on my daughter. This disease was fatal. Fengya had been in my arms all the time until she passed away. I can still feel her even after she was gone.”

After coming back from Beijing, Wang Fengya’s statue went worse dramatically. She was having a fever all the time, and she could not speak or eat anymore.

Yang Meiqin had been labeled as “evil parent”, “child abuser” after the writer Chen Lan posted against her on Weibo. Obviously, Yang Meiqin can’t compare with Weibo Celebrity Chen Lan’s influence. Fortunately, Dingxiang Doctor gave her and her family the chance to explain everything in front of the camera.

While Weibo celebrity Chen Lan said Yang Meiqin’s family had raised 150 thousand Yuan on Shui Di Chou, the app released a receipt regarding their case and it proved that the amount of donation that Yang Meiqin’s family raised from them: 38 thousand Yuan.

Some media and netizens questioned that Yang Meiqin spent all the money on Wang Fengya’s milk and toys instead of her chemotherapy. Her grandfather showed Dingxiang Doctor a list of how they spent that money.

According to Wang Fengya’s grandfather, they used about 10 thousand Yuan on milk, toys and snacks for Wang Fengya, 5,000 Yuan on commute between Beijing and Henan, 3,500 yuan on the last 48 days Wang Fengya’s hospital stay and 1,200 Yuan on her funeral.

Wang Fengya's grand father shows the receipt

Wang Fengya’s grand father shows the receipt

When asked why they spent so much money on milk and toys for Wang Fengya instead of her chemotherapy, Wang Fengya’s grandpa told Dingxiang Doctor that based on what they have learned from the hospital, Wang Fengya’s currently statue wasn’t ideal enough for any surgery or chemotherapies. No what-what they did, Wang Fengya would only have about one month’s life left.

“That was why her mother decided to let her enjoy her last days. For a dying child, spending whatever money on her was meaningful.” Wang Fenya’s grandfather said to Dingxiang Doctor.

Yang Meiqin said that the volunteers took pictures of Wang Fengya’s hands—there were marks left after all the treatments Wang Fengya received. After Wang Fengya passed away, Yang Meiqin finally realized that the volunteers were using those photos to against her—they told the public that Yang Meiqin abused her sick daughter.

The story had been twisted and twisted to another unbelievable version—A family from rural area manipulated the public, gathering 150 thousand Yuan for their daughter with cancer. However, they used that money on the treatment of their son with clefts, and they abused their daughter until she died from it. “Evil parents”, “sexist parents”, “charity frauds”, Yang Meiqin and Wang Hui have been labeled in this way on the internet by millions of people. Yang Meiqin received countless cursing texts and phone calls every day. She even thought of committing suicide and hide poison in her room.

In fact, The Smile Angel Foundation supported the surgery of Yang Meiqin’s son. After Wang Fengya passed away, the local police had to take pictures of her body to prove that she hadn’t been abused.

Even the media and public opinions started to take Yang Meiqin’s side and blame the cyberbullying behaviors, the fact of Yang Meiqin and her family being harmed can’t be erased easily.

Now the local government finally registered all of her children into the medical insurance system. But Yang Meiqin was still suffered from headaches, insomnia, and the broken heart. We don’t know if she regretted every decision she had made, but all we know was that as a woman living in the village, she cannot make any decisions which were beyond her destiny.

Article Name
The Death of Wang Fengya
This year, people learned a girl who got eye cancer, donations came from the whole nation. However, because of the death of Wang Fengya, the story twisted.
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