'I hadn't been home for three years': One migrant's struggle

China is home to nearly 300 million migrant workers who must leave the countryside for difficult, dangerous jobs in the big city.

Guo Jie, a migrant worker in Shanghai, makes a living by loading enormous stacks of polystyrene foam boxes on her bike, pedalling around Shanghai to re-sell them to wholesalers.

Unwieldly, dangerous and by her own admission a bit scary, it’s a job that proves a challenge to navigate busy roads. It also hints at the struggles the nearly 300 million rural migrant workers face in China. As their country undergoes rapid development, many people from rural communities must leave home behind to look for jobs in the city, where there are more opportunities.

But some migrant workers can leave home for years at a time – which means new jobs come with big costs.

This video is part of a video series on work in modern China by Shanghai-based photographer and filmmaker Noah Sheldon.

Director: Noah Sheldon

Producer: Jean Liu

Composer: Nick Zinner

Editor: Noah Sheldon and Maggie Peng


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