If there was ever a story that revealed the depth of a mother's love, this is it.
A Chinese woman, Ye Jinxiu, has been on a 17-year search for her son who was kidnapped in 1993. In her unyielding search for him, she lost her home, her family her husband and everything that she knew before her boy was stolen from her.
Ye said she covered more than 10 provinces after her 6-year-old son disappeared, collecting rubbish, washing dishes and borrowing to survive, and sleeping in parks. She nearly died, she said, before her husband begged her to stop and finally left.
Ye's tenacity paid off and she finally found her son. When she was reunited with him, Lu Jianning, she recalls he didn't even hug her... though he stayed with her for a year and then disappeared. She hasn't seen or heard from him in two years since he left.
"I don't regret looking for him. How he lives his life is up to him,” Ye said. "When your child goes missing you can't stop looking.”
Many children are stolen in the poorer regions and sold to families on the wealthier eastern seaboard, particularly provinces such as Fujian where Ye lives, said Deng Fei, a Beijing-based journalist who helps locate children.
It is estimated that tens of thousands of children, most of them boys, are stolen each year in China. Because China has a one-child policy, and many couples do not have boys, these stolen children fill the gap and meet these more successful families desire for a son. Other reasons for the kidnappings include child labor, and selling the children for profit to criminals.
On a popular website dedicated to the cause 14,000 families have posted notices looking for lost ones.
Ye is now 59, homeless and alone again roaming the streets of Fuzhou helping other parents search for their children.
“Having a child kidnapped is worse than having your heart torn out,” she said, gazing at a huge canvas she had laid out by a bus stop, printed with "missing" adverts and chubby-cheeked faces.
"If someone rips your heart out it takes one second, you die and you're not aware anymore," she said. "If your child is kidnapped and not found, then every day as soon as you wake up, your heart hurts from thinking."
Image via YouTube