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Love conquers hardships in bitter-cold border village

By Tian Xuefei in Mohe,heilongjiang and Zhou Huiying in Harbin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-16 07:57

Zhao, Gu and their daughter walk down a snow-covered lane on their way home. Photo Provided To China Daily

"At first, although I had prepared myself for the tough conditions, I still seemed incapable of adapting to the life here," Guo said.

They rented a 22-square-meter converted garage as their new home, and borrowed a television set from one of Zhao's colleagues.

"We have the longest border of all the border police stations in Heilongjiang, and we have many border management tasks," Zhao said. "It means that I have little time to spend on housework."

Naturally, the burden falls on the shoulders of his wife.

The winter is long and extremely cold, so the most important task is lighting the stove. Guo learned how to do this from her neighbor, but it was difficult for the young woman who had not seen a real stove before.

The fire gave her blisters on her fingers and she got splinters in her hands when she chopped wood.

Her shoes were often covered in ice after carrying water from the landlord's house, as no running water was available in their room.

But those were not the most difficult challenges the couple faced. "One day in February 2012, when I was two months pregnant, I had massive bleeding, which was scary," Guo said.

"Doctors from Beiji Town Hospital and Mohe County Hospital had no idea why it was happening."

The couple decided to fly to Heilongjiang's capital, Harbin, where Guo's condition improved after treatment. She gave birth to their first baby in October that year.

"The 6,000 yuan ($885) we paid for two plane tickets hit us hard financially," Zhao said. "It was about two months' salary at that time."

In 2013, Guo became a history teacher at Beiji Town Central School.

"It is the only proper job available to me in the village, but I am satisfied with it because I am here with the man I love," she said.

Over the years, the family has moved home four times, upgrading from a 22-sqm home to a 100-sqm apartment.

"Now, we live in an apartment provided by the school and have enough rooms for my parents and our two children," Zhao said.

Last year, their second child was born in the border village.

In May, the Beiji border police station was honored as a model unit by the State Council, and the Central Military Commission.

"I want to say thank you to my wife. It is her dedication to our family that gives me the energy to work and forget my worries," Zhao said.

Contact the writers at zhouhuiying@chinadaily.com.cn

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