Chinese boy, 11, sells onions before school for S$0.19 to pay for sick brother’s S$135,000 medical fee

His biggest wish was for his brother to recover soon so they would be able to attend school together

Ashley Tan | September 24, 2019 @ 01:48 am


There are stories that warm your heart, and there are those that make you shed a silent tear.

This one, about a loving brother from Henan, China, does both.

Wakes at 6am to pluck spring onions

Yan Yihang has been waking up at 6am everyday to walk into town to sell onions before school, according to Pear Video.

Every morning, the 11-year-old plucks spring onions from the family farm, before lugging his harvest to the market.

Screenshot from Pear Video

There, he sells them for RMB1 (S$0.19) per bunch through a self-service stall.

Yan then heads to school after setting up the stall.

Screenshot from Pear Video

Customers who pick up the spring onions would drop off the cash in a small tin.

During lunch, he goes to check on the stall and in the evening, he returns from school to close the stall.

Yan also counts his earnings and notes them down every night at home.

Screenshot from Pear Video

The vegetable stall was previously manned by his 66-year-old grandmother.

However, Yan’s grandmother suffered from a stroke in March 2019, and Yan has had to take over since.

Business isn’t always brisk for Yan though.

He told reporters from Dahe Daily that while he can sometimes earn up to RMB50 (S$9.68) in a day, other days he earns nothing.

Brother, seven, diagnosed with life-threatening blood disease

The reason for Yan’s toil is his brother.

Yan’s younger brother, Yan Ce, suffers from a rare blood disease known as aplastic anemia, reported Daily Mail.

The condition occurs when the body isn’t able to produce enough red blood cells, leaving the person feeling fatigued, and with a higher risk of infections and uncontrolled bleeding.

The seven-year-old was diagnosed with the life-threatening condition in 2015, and had to be transferred to the hospital in the province’s capital in order to receive better medical attention.

Screenshot from Pear Video

His grandparents have had to borrow money from friends and relatives to pay off the mounting medical fees, which have totalled RMB700,000 (S$135,511) in the past four years.

Yan’s father also has to work as a labourer in another city, and Yan is doing his part to help the family by farming and selling spring onions.

At the vegetable stall, Yan also placed a handwritten cardboard sign, which states at the top, “Buy vegetables, save my brother”, along with a description of his family situation.

Screenshot from Pear Video

Donated bone marrow to the brother

In June 2018, doctors suggested for Yan’s brother to undergo a bone marrow transplant, reported Daily Mail.

Due to unspecified reasons, Yan’s father was unable to donate his bone marrow, but Yan readily stepped up to the plate.

Yan told Pear Video that the process was “a little painful, but [he] was not scared”, as only through this operation can his brother recover quickly.

Screenshot from Pear Video

After four months of sweat and hard work, Yan managed to accumulate RMB1,182 (S$228.82), which he brought in cash when he visited his brother at the hospital.

When Pear Video asked why Yan did not accept donations, the young boy stated that he wanted to “earn money by [his] own effort”.

Yan added that his biggest wish was for his brother to recover soon so they would be able to attend school together.

Screenshot from Pear Video

You can watch the full video of Yan and his story in Chinese here.

Top photo from Pear Video

About Ashley Tan

Ashley can't go a week without McDonalds.

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