Sha Bihong, Carrying Love to the Grassroots People (Excerpt)
Sha Bihong, Carrying Love to the Grassroots People (November 5, 2002)
Since the 1990s, the Chinese government has made greater efforts to crack down on human trafficking. Some criminals and criminal gangs were brought to justice and many journalists reported the crackdown on human trafficking. The CCTV journalist and anchor of Story program Sha Bihong and Sha Bifang followed the police in the battle against human traffickers. They filmed the police actions and made on-site interviews in one year. From the perspective of women, they recorded the major rescue actions made by police. Using filmed video materials lasting nearly 30,000 minutes, Sha Bihong, Sha Bifang and their team produced an 11-part TV documentary Social Care. While making this film, they have also helped the abducted women heal their psychic trauma.
I. The Two Sisters Got Touched by the Crying Women
A few years ago, Sha Bihong received a letter from five abducted girls, who wrote that they viewed her program on TV about the disadvantaged groups and were willing to tell their stories to her. In the letter, they told her about how they got abducted and where they were trapped at that time. They said they were under the control of human traffickers and hoped Sha Bihong could go to them and listen to their sad stories so that no more girls would be abducted. They also wrote they were willing to be filmed by Sha. After reading this letter, Sha Bihong immediately made a phone call to the number they wrote in the letter. It was answered by a public phone stand and the stand owner told Sha the girls had been taken away by a few men.
Hanging up the phone, Sha Bihong began to worry about the fate of these girls and where they had been taken by human traffickers. At that time, she decided to produce a documentary about the fate of abducted girls if she had the opportunity.
In 2000, the special crackdown on abduction was initiated and Sha Bihong was also involved in the action. She was about to realize her wish of making in-depth reports and filming a documentary about it. Sha Bifang, who was also working at CCTV, also went with her.
In the process of reporting, they filmed how the abducted women, thanks to the care from local governments, healed their psychic trauma after receiving treatment. Most of them chose to go home. But there were also a few women choosing to live in the place where they were rescued. And a woman called Liu Xiaohua attracted special attention from them.
They knew Liu Xiaohua in the Criminal Police Squad in Guangzhou Public Security Bureau, Liuhua Branch. This Criminal Police Squad in Guangdong Province was called Abduction Crackdown Task Force. For more than 10 years, they had been working in the forefront of abduction crackdown and made excellent results. Guangzhou was then China’s largest recipient of abducted people. And the Railway Station beside Liuhua Public Security Branch happened to fall into the jurisdiction of the Squad. So Guangdong Department of Pubic Security deployed the Squad to be responsible for crackdown on the abduction in Guangdong Province.
Sha Bifang met Liu Xiaohua for the first time when the police were trying to get some information from her. Liu, who was sitting before the policemen and answering questions, was just like a hypogenetic girl. She was thin but had a delicate face with lustreless eyes. Her sad story captured Sha Bifang’s attention. Sha turned on the filming camera and filmed the whole process to get more information about her.
II. Though missing home, the abducted women didn’t want to go home
Liu Xiaohua and her husband lived in Hubei Province with their kid. Their family had been a happy one. To make more money, she came to Guangdong as a migrant worker. However, she was abducted and sold to Jiamei Village in Guangdong and had another kid with her buyer. When the baby was 2 years old, she escaped from her buyer.
At that time, Guangzhou Public Security Bureau rescued many women at one time and placed them in a guesthouse. Sha Bihong often went to the guesthouse to interview these rescued women. Sha Bihong said to Liu Xiaohua, “You are going home very soon. What wish do you have? If possible, I am willing to help you realize your wish.” Hearing this, Liu Xiaohua said, “I won’t go home unless I capture the human trafficker with my own hands.” Different from the other abducted girls, Liu Xiaohua, because of the crime of the human trafficker, now had two families and two kids. Thinking of what she had suffered and her dilemma, Liu Xiaohua hated the human trafficker very deeply. Sha Bihong realized that for Liu Xiaohong, she had to go through very difficult struggle in her inner world. So she decided to agree and try to help her as much as possible in the process of filming the documentary.
To give confidence to Liu Xiaohua and to film the live scene of Liu Xiaohua catching the human trafficker, Sha Bifang took the secret filming camera and followed Liu Xiaohua on the streets and lanes in Guangzhou in the hot weather in July. Liu Xiaohua just walked and lingered in the bridge opening, small lanes and street corners because the human trafficker that abducted her often visited such places. Sha Bifang followed her and felt somewhat scared because she had never had such experience before. It was really difficult to predict some hidden danger in these places. The hot July weather, the anxiety and scare made them sweat heavily. The potential danger, undoubtedly, was a threat to both of them. But this thought just came and went. Sha Bifang still deemed the fact-based reporting as her duty as a journalist.
Sha Bifang and Liu Xiaohua looked for the human trafficker for 10 days without having any clue. Indeed, it was a few years ago when Liu Xiaohua was abducted. She could only rely on her shallow memory of the human trafficker. And they were not sure whether the human trafficker was still in Guangzhou. So it was almost an impossible mission. Then the Public Security Bureau decided to send these rescued women to their hometowns. Liu Xiaohua refused and said she would not go home unless she had caught the human trafficker.
The two sisters, Sha Bihong and Sha Bifang, offered their greatest sincerity to talk with Liu Xiaohua, who was missing her home and would not go home. Finally, Liu Xiaohua revealed her inner world to the sisters. Indeed, she was afraid her mother would feel sad at her. And she felt ashamed of being abducted because she was one of the few abducted women among so many town fellows leaving home to find jobs. And most important, she was afraid her husband would not accept her after going home.
After knowing what Liu Xiaohua was really thinking, the two sisters Sha Bihong and Sha Bifang abandoned the original plan of having 2-day rest in Guangzhou and started to work busily for Liu Xiaohua. They soothed her on the one hand. On the other hand, they wrote letters to her home and made phone calls. In the end, they built contact with her mother. Hearing her daughter had been abducted and rescued, the mother couldn’t help sobbing and asked the daughter to come home as soon as possible because they had not met for three years. However, when the two sisters bought the train ticket for Liu, she became hesitant again. She said she wanted to go home but dared not. The two sisters spent another dozen of hours soothing and persuading her to help her recover her confidence and make proper choice.
III. The family reunited with tears
Sha Bihong said to Liu Xiaohua, “First, you don’t have to feel inferior because it was not your fault to be abducted. Your problem is that you lacked knowledge about laws and didn’t know how to protect yourself. Besides, you trusted other people too easily. But it has nothing to do with your moral quality. And it is the human trafficker who is guilty. So you should raise your head and embrace sunlight. Second, you have left you home for more than 3 years without even one letter or phone call to your home. Your mother is still waiting for you in the distant hometown for more than 1,000 days. Do you know how many tears she has shed?” Listening to this, Liu Xiaohua, again, had tears in the face.
Sha Bihong continued, “The parents always miss their sons and daughter no matter how far they travel. You have been away from home for a few years. And after you were abducted, you have never contacted them. Your child, your husband and your mother are missing you so much. You said you are worried that your husband would not accept you. But both of you have the right to make the choice. For you, you can start a new life and tell your husband what you have experienced. If he loves you, he will accept you. If not, it means he doesn’t love you enough and you should understand him. So you should not evade from the fact and should face him bravely”. Again, the tears came down from her face.
Sha Bihong continued, “Your child is now more than 3 years old and you still don’t know what she looks like. Of course, you now have another kid and you can choose only one of them. But since you have chosen your first family, you should go on with the choice”
Liu Xiaohua raised her head, wiped off her tears and said, “Well, I will go home.”
The two sisters were very pleased. They and their colleagues in the team spent their own money buying gifts for the family members of Liu Xiaohua. In the end, Liu forsook the psyche burdens and said farewell to the policemen in Guangzhou Liuhua Public Security Branch before taking the train to home.
Liu Xiaohua, who left her hometown 3 years ago, finally came home. Sha Bihong and Sha Bifang, together with the filming team, followed Liu to her home. On the moment she stepped in, Liu and her mother hugged each other and cried loudly. The mother was tolerant. And Xiaohua took her daughter Qiaoqiao in the arms and kept kissing her. However, no one knew whether her husband Wang Xubing could accept Xiaohua again.
A long time after Sha Bihong and Sha Bifang contacted the village administration, Wan Xubin finally showed up in the company of her good friends in the village.
For any journalist, it was important to film the scene of Liu Xiaohua talking with her husband Wan Xubin because it was valuable for the completion of the documentary. Those who are familiar with Sha Bihong know she is the type of journalists never talking about giving-up. However, in the process of filming crackdown on human trafficking, Sha Bihong, as the Chief Director, made a rule in the beginning that they should never cause negative impact on the future life of the abducted women simply for the purpose of filming. Considering that Xiaohua and her husband talking was more important than filming for her to come back to her family, the filming team decided not to film the scene.
Sha Bihong not only deems the filmed people as the materials. While ensuring the filming process, she also helps them as she has helped Liu Xiaohua find the way towards a new life after the rescue. She would rather sacrifice some excellent scenes for this purpose. She believes the rationality of journalists should not be overwhelmed by the emotional waves. Instead, she should turn the passion into the force.
Though having forsaken some wonderful scenes, they were pleased to know that with their help, Liu Xiaohua regained the love from her husband and came back to her family. And that was the greatest harvest in the filming process. And this matter had helped the sisters make a decision to help those abducted girls walk out of the life shadow and return to their spiritual home.
IV. The sisters join hands to give love to others
Sha Bihong said, “Sometimes we just need to offer our hands and pull others. By giving a smile or an eye expression, we might change their fate. So why not doing it? Actually, we are not doing enough. As a journalist, I will never give up the efforts simply because I know I cannot solve all the problems.”
In 2002, Sha Bihong and Sha Bifang worked together again as the Chief Director of Looking for True Love, a feature program in the Story column for the Spring Festival. When they were busy preparing for the program, they received a phone call from Liu Xiaohua.
Xiaohua told the two sisters that after she came back home, she missed her kid in Guangzhou very much. Hearing this, Sha Bihong and Sha Bifang also felt quite sad because they are also women at the same age of Liu Xiaohua. Both of the sisters are also wives and mothers. They understand nothing, even the hatred, can cut off the blood relationship. So they could deeply understand Liu Xiaohua missing her kid. Out of sympathy and understanding of Liu Xiaohua, they decided to help Xiaohua realize her difficult dream by telling a story about seeking true love.
They decided to find the little boy Dexiong, the son of Liu Xiaohua and her second husband or buyer in Guangzhou to take a photo, film a scene or record his voice as the Chinese New Year gift for Liu Xiaohua in the studio of Story. It would become a soothing tablet for Liu Xiaohua. So Sha Bifang made a phone call to Liu Xiaohua and told her the decision. Hearing the news, Xiaohua was very pleased. Then Sha Bifang went to Guangzhou with the gift for the little boy Dexiong. With the help of Guangzhou police, she found Dexiong very quickly.
In the studio making the Looking for True Love program for the Spring Festival, the two sisters played the VCR filmed in Guangzhou of little Dexiong, who said “Happy Spring Festival, Mom”. Looking at her innocent and lovely son, Liu Xiaohua couldn’t hold her tears. At that moment, she was no more a lonely victim. Instead, she was a happy mother having care and love by many people after experiencing sad life. The once hurt heart was becoming warmer in the sunlight of love and care.
Sha Bihong also invited her husband Wan Xubin to the studio. And he told the audience what they talked when meeting the first time after three-year separation.
Liu Xiaohua came back home. And the care from Sha Bihong and Sha Bifang for the women with misfortunes has never ended. Nowadays, they are continuing to give attention to these women and children. They are still recording their life with filming cameras. Besides, they are also writing articles to call upon more people to give love and care for them.
At the same time, they have collaborated to write the first version of reportable novel Heaven has tears, which has 300,000 Chinese characters. It is about their experience of filming the crackdown on human trafficking. And they have almost finished the teleplay script of 22-part teleplay Flowers Blossom Again, which tells stories of abducted women resuming their normal life. As journalists, they have fulfilled their mission and made their best efforts.