World

Former millionaire who took in 75 children over 19 years now in debt

A woman in China took in 75 children over 19 years.

Around a quarter of these children were orphans, while the rest had been abandoned because they suffer from some disability or illness.

Ms Li Lijuan became a millionaire in the 1980s through running a successful garment business.

She divorced her husband, whom she has one son with, after he squandered more than half of the fortune, and in 1996, began adopting kids, reported NetEase.

After news spread that she was taking in abandoned children, more and more kids were left at her doorstep, reported ent.zhenren.com.

For years, her investment in iron ore provided her an income. But in 2008, the government shut down her mine to make way for a road.

She sold her mansion and cars in order to continue supporting the children.

Now mired in debt, Ms Li, who has cancer, is still doing her best to provide for them.

Not afraid of dying

Ms Li, 46, said monthly expenses come up to at least 50,000 yuan (S$10,800), and that the sum does not include the medical costs of the kids' treatments.

To try and make end's meet, Ms Li has a stall selling shoes. She also grows crops on her 20 acres of land and has 300 chickens, 120 goats, 50 ducks, 30 geese and 10 pigs.

Said Ms Li: "We try to be self-sufficient and cut down on what must be purchased. Fortunately, the kids are sensible and help out with the farming and taking care of their younger brothers and sisters."

People from her village and the neighbouring village often help her out – 12 of them act as nannies, one of them acts as a driver while another helps out as a cook.

Ms Li, who had just 30 children to care for in 2008, said expenses surged past her income in 2011, and that she now owes friends and relatives around 2 million yuan.

The woman was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2011, but returned home after a week's stay at the hospital.

She said she would rather spend the money on the children, reported Shanghaiist.

Ms Li added that she is not afraid of dying, but that she is worried about the children's future.

She has officially adopted 69 of the children. Of those, three are now studying in university and one is a civil servant.

Ms Li said last month that she feels guilty towards her biological son, who is estranged from her.

"All these years I haven't had time alone with him. I owe him too much."

Sources: NetEase, Shanghaiist, ent.zhenren.com

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