Reading centre Long Gang

“I think the main problem for migrant workers is that they lack friends. If you are alone, leaving your home town to work, maybe what you lack is a place where you can talk.” Wu Dafeng, migrant worker.

Although it is called a reading room, the manager Chen Wenyu admits that only a few people come here only to read. Most come to Youlian Charity’s Reading Room to meet other migrant workers and to talk.

“They come here for the feeling. It is like a home.”

Wenyu has been a volunteer for three years and now he is taking care of the centre full time.

“I think the main problem for migrant workers is that they lack friends. If you are alone, leaving your home town to work, maybe what you lack is a place where you can talk.”

The Youlian Charity has over 100 core volunteers and another 400 who also help out from time to time. One of the main things migrant workers help each other with besides the social aspects of life far from home is practical things. 

“Everyone that comes to us is a migrant worker. And migrant workers in Shenzhen have quite high living cost. So to help migrant workers our volunteers, who are also migrant workers, help fix computers, mend clothes, or repair shoes for other migrant workers. If they went to other places for these services, their living expenses will increase.”

“When we first began few people knew about us. But now, at least, people know about such place. When they are feel or on leave, they have a place to go. The key is to have more people to know us and we make some difference, so that we can we expand our space.”

“People coming here are from all over the country. They are all migrant workers from different places and are in various age groups basically, in their 20s and 30s, or born in 1980s and 90s, even in their 40s and 50s. When they spend time here, even though their ages vary, but with common values, people coming here All become friends.”

Wu Dafeng is a supervisor at a local factory in Long Gang in Shenzhen and a frequent visitor to the reading room.

“’The book house’ helps us a lot, because we are team with mutual trust, which is quite important. There is basically no barrier between us, and if something happen, anything happens, we can sit down and have a talk. We understand each other, so when I feel depressed, I have a place where I can talk.”

Dafeng and his wife has two sons. He recently became a supervisor at this factory and allowed a small one room apartment where he could bring his family from his home village.

“When my kids weren’t around, sometimes I really felt that it's not like a real family. I always felt as if there is something missing. But when we are together, we feel happy even if we can only have a very simple meal. Now I have my sons around and I feel like… I no longer need to miss them everyday like before. They are now with me and we can play and live together.”

“I think moving here to be with us will have a great impact on their education, because when they were living with their grandparents there was a generation gap. And there were things that were difficult to talk to their grandparents about due to the generation gap.”