ANDING, China — Chen Shangyi makes a living as a scavenger. He prides himself on having a good nose for unusual finds. So when he saw a crowd clustered around a white bundle at the local train station one day while he was hunting for empty soda cans and soy sauce bottles, he couldn't resist taking a peek.The reporter, Ching-Ching Ni, wrote one of my favorite stories ever, about the Tibetan Wild Yak Brigade. She has a gift for making what is extraordinary in "ordinary" peoples' lives come alive.
It was a baby, wrapped in a thin sheet.
"Everybody was just looking. Nobody would do anything," recalled Chen, who was 65, already retirement age, on that bitterly cold, snowy day 17 years ago.
"When I took her home, she was frozen stiff. My wife and I wrapped her in a burlap bag…. We started a fire. We fed her soup and put some old clothes on her. A while later, she started to wiggle." Chen named her Ling Ling.
Today, the sturdy 82-year-old with deep lines on his sun-baked face still makes a living as a scavenger in this remote Chinese town of 460,000 people on the edge of the Gobi Desert. And he is still bringing home children — 42 in all, at last count.
If you can't access this story behind the Great Firewall, let me know, and I'll be happy to email it to you.