Xu Fang, Garbage Recycler, Beijing

I met Xu Fang, 24, at a shack between mountains of plastic bottles and returned for several visits between 2009 and 2011. She had set out from her village at the age of 16. She would have loved to continue her school education, but in this deeply patriarchal society, that privilege was reserved for her younger brother. Searching for work and in hope of a future of her own, she, against her father’s will, headed for the big city of Guangzhou. Recently, she and her husband, whom she met at an electronics factory, moved to Beijing to gain a foothold in the garbage recycling business.
There in search for a better income they have regularly changed their places of work, were defrauded by a relative, and still live between heaps of plastic bottles. Furthermore she is afraid of being subjected to forced sterilization. Dissatisfied with her current situation, she is still trying to find her way. She plans on visiting her parents’ house, which she ran away from years ago.

Chapter from the photo book „Mingong. The Pursuit of Happiness“. There you can also can find the full version of her story.