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    Blessings and Hardships for Taxi-Driving Single Mom

    Li Shaoyun’s daughter goes to kindergarten for free, but Li struggles to make ends meet after a minor traffic accident.

    This article is part of a series looking back at some of the most noteworthy China stories of 2017.

    For two-thirds of 3-year-old Yiyi’s young life, the back seat of a taxi has been part of her daily routine. Her mother, Li Shaoyun, works as a taxi driver in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province. Often taking the late shifts, Li would start picking up passengers around 5 in the afternoon and head home in the early hours of the morning, around 4 a.m., carrying her sleeping daughter to their tiny apartment.

    The 42-year-old single mother left her home in the suburbs of Wuhan, along with her daughter, in early 2015. Since then, she has divorced her husband, who wanted to abandon Yiyi when she was born. Li found a job as a taxi driver, from which she earned around 4,000 yuan ($610) a month: enough to pay the bills and take care of Yiyi. Despite all the difficulties she encountered — including keeping her daughter safe as they cruised around the city — Li was content in their 20-square-meter home.

    But a car accident in August threw their lives into a more desperate situation. Li lost her job, and she hasn’t been able to find regular work since, only taking over shifts from fellow drivers every now and then. Without a stable income, Li is worried about her future. Her only comfort comes from the fact that her daughter is going to a kindergarten for free: Yiyi has a chance to go to school, and her mother gets take her there in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon — just like the other mothers.

    When Li asks her daughter if she wants her to go back to work, Yiyi responds adamantly, shaking her head: “No, I won’t let you go.”

    Editor: Doris Wang.

    (Header image: Li Shaoyun waits with her daughter Yiyi outside a car wash at the end of an overnight shift, Wuhan, Hubei province. Aug. 11, 2017. Zhu Ying/Sixth Tone)