Chinese student Wu Huayan dies after living with pennies a day

Wu Huayan in his hospital bedImage Copyright
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Wu Huayan only ate rice and chili peppers to save money and help his sick brother

A severely malnourished student who survived with only 2 yuan ($ 0.30, £ 0.20) per day for years to keep her brother has died, Chinese media say.

Wu Huayan’s plight shocked China when last year photos of the young woman appeared, weighing just over 20 kg (43 lb).

She was admitted to the hospital with respiratory problems in October 2019.

Donations flooded to help her recover, but her brother told reporters that he had died Monday.

The brother, who has not been named, told the Beijing Youth Daily that he was only 24 when he died.

Doctors said last year that the third-year college student suffered heart and kidney problems as a result of five years of eating minimal amounts of food.

What is the story of Wu Huayan?

Wu Huayan and his brother had struggled to survive for many years. They lost their mother when she was four years old and her father died while she was still in school.

She and her brother were supported by her grandmother, and then by an uncle and an aunt who could only provide 300 yuan each month.

Most of that money went to the medical bills of his younger brother, who had mental health problems.

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Media SubtitleChina’s uphill fight fights extreme poverty

This meant that Ms. Wu spent only 2 yuan a day on herself, surviving in large part of the peppers and rice for five years. When he arrived at the hospital, he was only 135 cm tall.

Doctors said she was so malnourished that her eyebrows and 50% of her hair had fallen.

What was the reaction?

The brothers came from Guizhou, one of the poorest provinces in China, and the case has highlighted poverty in China.

While China’s economy has skyrocketed in recent decades, poverty has not disappeared, and the National Bureau of Statistics said that in 2017 there were 30.46 million rural people still living below the national poverty line of $ 1.90 per day.

Inequality has also increased, with a 2018 report from the International Monetary Fund that says China is now “one of the most unequal countries in the world.”

Wu Huayan’s case provoked a torrent of anger towards the authorities, and many on social networks questioned why no more had been done to help the brothers.

Others expressed admiration for their efforts to help their brother while persevering with their studies.

In addition to donations on crowdfunding platforms, her teachers and classmates donated 40,000 yuan, while local villagers collected 30,000 yuan to help her.

before her death, officials issued a statement saying that Ms. Wu had been receiving the minimum government subsidy, estimated between 300 and 700 yuan a month, and that she was now receiving an emergency aid fund of 20,000 yuan .

China previously pledged to “eliminate” poverty by 2020. Earlier this month, Jiangsu Province said that only 17 of its more than 80 million people lived in poverty. The figures were questioned online.

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