A poverty-stricken Chinese woman has been living in a cave for the past three years – surviving on just rainwater, rice and cabbages.
Du Meiying was spotted in the damp cave in the outskirts of Yichang city, in the central Chinese province of Hubei province, with a wind-up torch and a bucket for collecting rainwater. The 52-year-old said she has lived there for three years, since her family fell on tough times and could no longer support her.
She was given a room in a council house, but moved out when she had a row with her elderly neighbours – and has lived in a cave ever since. She collects the rainwater that seeps through the cave to drink, cook and clean with, and grows cabbages in land outside with seeds donated to by a local farmer.
Unemployed Du depends on a state hand-out of 100 yen a month – the equivalent of £8.66 – to get by, as well as the generosity of kind-hearted people in the nearby village of Toudinshi, making trips there every other month to buy rice and supplies. “I don’t know what the future holds for me. I don’t have anywhere to go, so I will stay here where I at least have a roof over my head,” Du said.
Du said her health is suffering because of her cave lifestyle, and she dreams of living in a real room. During the freezing winters she wears two pairs of second-hand trousers and two donated coats, but her only pair of shoes have fallen apart. Her bed is made from bamboo cranes she has collected, and she uses an abandoned wooden crate as her table.