An unknown country girl from Hubei Province once became a household name overnight last year for her suicide attempt at the Foxconn factory in Longhua, which saw 13 employees try to kill themselves between January and May last year.
Now, Tian Yu, who was paralyzed after jumping from her dormitory at the factory, has recently gained popularity on the Internet, not for her depressing experience, but for the hand-woven slippers shehas designed and made.
The 18-year-old has opened an online shop on Taobao, China's most popular online shopping Website, to sell the hand-woven slippers, which have rekindled her zest for life.
Born and raised in a small village in Hubei Province, the farthest place Tian Yu reached was a county-level city less-than-one-hour ride from her home before February last year.
Like most of the young people in the village, Tian had to come to a big city like Shenzhen to find a job and provide for her impoverished family.
Tian's family was in heavy debt after renovating their dilapidated house in 2003 and treating Tian's cancer-ridden grandfather the following year.
Besides, Tian's younger brother was born a deaf-mute and had to study at a special school for disabled people.
In early February last year, Tian followed in her father's footsteps in leaving the village. Her destination was Guanlan in Shenzhen, where an elder cousin of hers worked.
All she owned were 500 yuan in cash and a mobile phone given by her father.
Brutal initiation in Shenzhen
On arrival, Shenzhen was a strange world for Tian, she could not even understand the signs at bus stops.
Turned down by her cousin's factory, which only employed people above 18, Tian came to Foxconn where people over 16 and a half years old could be hired.
"There was a long queue of people waiting outside the factory's recruitment office. I thought it must be a good factory," Tian recalled.
However, such high expectation was soon proven wrong.
Tian was dispatched to Foxconn's Longhua factory and accommodated in a dormitory room, which housed eight workers.
The eight roommates worked in different departments and on different shifts. Tian did not even know the names of her roommates until her suicide attempt.
Tian was assigned to work at the final station of an assembly line and tasked to check the screens of iPhones and attach a label to the qualified ones.
Tian had to check one phone every 15 seconds in a 12-hour working day.
"Time passed slowly and I felt my eyes and hands were no longer a part of me," Tian said.
A fledgling, Tian was always scolded by the people in charge of the assembly line for her slowness and carelessness.
"I received the most criticism of all workers on the assembly line," She said.
Tian did not receive her salary card until Mar.15 last year, when she had only five yuan with her.
More unfortunately, her mobile phone dropped in water and broke down, which prevented her from being able to contact her family. Even another phone she borrowed from her cousin was stolen by someone.
Tian was told that, she had to go to the company's factory in Guanlan to claim her salary card.
However, when she came to the Guanlan factory, nobody gave her a clear explanation of where she could get the card.
Having no money, Tian had to walk back from Guanlan to Longgang, a distance which would take one hour by bus.
The introverted girl did not ask for help from her roommates when she was back to the dormitory.
"I thought that no salary card meant I would not be paid for what I did," Tian said.
The physically and mentally exhausted girl climbed to the fourth floor of her dormitory building and jumped.
When Tian Yu woke up, she found herself paralyzed at hospital.
"I want to go home" was the first words Tian said to her father after waking up. Tian's father rushed to the hospital after learning of the tragedy.
"In the early days at the hospital, I thought the whole world was cold and nobody cared about me expected my family members," Tian recalled.
"Going home is the only choice for country people when they turn old, ill or disabled," said Tian Jiandang, the girl's father.
However, Tian's pessimistic mood was changed by the great deal of care from people from different walks of life, including colleagues, journalists, students and teachers, who paid frequent visits to the hospital and gave her things like a wheelchair, a camera and dolls.
"At that moment, I realized that it was a wrong choice to commit suicide. There are still some people who care about me in this society," Tian said.
Before Tian Yu set out on the way home, two journalists at the Shenzhen Evening News, Chen Yuanzhong and Tu Qiao, gave her two books teaching her how to make hand-woven slippers, which were bought in Hong Kong.
Tian and her father studied the books carefully every day and finally completed her first pair of hand-woven slippers in one and half a months.
Tian sent six pairs of slippers to Chen at the beginning of this year, who sold them to colleagues.
Chen told Tian's story to each of his acquaintances and helped sell the slippers.
To reach more people, Chen's colleagues started promoting Tian's slippers on the microblog.
On the night of April 6, Gao Lei, a journalist of the Daily Sunshine, put the post about Tian on his microblog, which later received more than 20,000 visits.
Chen started receiving numerous calls from all around the country, asking to buy Tian's hand-woven slippers.
Moreover, China's biggest online shoe shop, Letao, has sent staff to Tian's home to sign an agreement with her, offering to help sell her slippers on the Internet for one year.
Tian has been joined by her 78-year-old grandma, sister and father to make hand-woven slippers.
"We can not fail to live up to the enthusiasm of kind people," Tian said. I hope my slippers will become popular for their good quality one day."