This is what matters.
The experience of a product.
Will it make life better?
Until every idea we touch enhances each life it touches.
Who pays the price?
The human cost of electronics.
When I was in third grade, my mother left home to work as a migrant worker. When I was in seventh grade, we stopped hearing from her. I wanted to find her, to rescue her. My mind was set on earning as much money as possible.
My dream was to leave home, to leave the countryside and the mountains behind me.
I was only 14 when I started to work at the factory. I went to work because my parents worked so hard all year long to pay for my education.
In China, every year, over 12 million teenagers leave home to find work. They are part of 260 million Chinese who must travel far from home just to make a living.
My work days started at 8 a.m. and ended at 11p.m. There were no holidays. I only had one night off a month. We sat there all day cleaning phone chips and using chemicals. There was an Apple screen, and a Nokia screen.
When I wasn't eating or sleeping, I will be wiping something. It was the only thing I did. There was no other ventilation, no windows. The smell was horrible at first, but I eventually got used to it.
My son's name is Ming Kunpeng. He just turned 26 years old. This should be the best time of his life, but unfortunately he was diagnosed with leukemia in May 2009. After three examinations over twelve months, he was confirmed to be occupational leukemia, an aggressive form of cancer caused by benzene.
Benzene is a category one carcinogen that is banned in most Western Countries for industrial use. China, maker of more than 50% of the world's cell phones, is an exception.
I've now been through 28 chemotherapy treatments. My bones hurt a lot. It feels like thousands of ants biting my insides. It's really painful.
I've been living in this hospital for six years now. It feels like a prison, and there's no way to escape. I feel like my life is over. I really don't know what to do.
It took 19 months of struggle to prove my leukemia was workplace-related. I petitioned to the government authorities many times and was sent home by force.
The factory manager called my coworker and told him not to tell other workers what was wrong.
There were several people who accompanied me to the hospital when I received the diagnosis. They carried a bag with them, a bag of money.
They went ahead in my absence. They concluded my cancer was not caused from working at the factory, and I was denied compensation.
When I was on the street, I would take a close look at anyone who had a physical resemblance to my mother. I was worried what had happened to her, and that she was suffering. That's why I've been working so hard. But now everything is...everything is over.
You know what? When I was in the hospital, I couldn't walk, but I didn't dare tell my mother. I had expected that I would be responsible, that I would try to relieve some of the burdens from my parents. But the truth is, I ended up as their burden.
Do you miss home? Do you want to take all back home? Let's go home.
Six weeks after this interview, Ming Kunpeng committed suicide.
He jumped off the building. He ultimately chose to end his own life. He couldn't take the struggle any longer—the pressure of dealing with this illness, the factory, and benzene poisoning.
I propose that we all stand up and hold a silent tribute for Ming. We are all benzene patients. For those of us who are alive, we need to fight for our rights, for justice, and live on.
Benzene is a horrifying poison that causes cancer. We want to deliver a message to the public that benzene can be replaced by safer alternatives.
We want brands to take responsibility for working conditions at their supplier factories, and good occupational health and safety measures, and policies and practices. And banning the use of benzenes is part of that. It's just part of supply chain responsibility.
Benzene is widely used in various industries. Sporting goods, printing, and electronic products as well as finishing materials contain benzene. Not only are the workers working in very toxic environments, but the customers who buy the products are also exposed to benzene.
At the moment, consumers don't have a benzene-free choice. There are no benzene-free electronics, so you can't go to a shop and ask for the one or the other thing. But consumers can ask and can get in touch with brands, and say, "What is this whole issue with benzene? I'm worried and concerned about benzene poisoning," and put some pressure on brands.
In China, over 200 million people are working in hazardous environments. According to Chinese government statistics, one person will get poisoned by toxic chemicals every five hours; the majority from benzene. Expert assert this number is much higher. A benzene-free electronic device would cost consumers less than one USD more.
Dear Dad and Mom,
How are you?
I'm sorry I'm not there to take care of you.
Will you forgive me?
I thought about suicide.
I thought about jumping from the building, but I didn't have the strength to climb on the roof.
I've come a long way now, and I'm strong enough to survive.
I will stay positive and live each day with a sense of purpose.
Every worker in this film produced for a major electronics brand or shipping container company that delivers China's electronic devices to the world.
- 「賺錢謀生」- Make A Living
They are part of 260 million Chinese who must travel far from home just to make a living.
- 「繼續進行」- Go Ahead
They went ahead in my absence.
- 「看一看」- Take A Look At
When I was on the street, I would take a close look at anyone who had a physical resemblance to my mother.
- 「最後成為」- End Up
But the truth is, I ended up as their burden.
- 「聯絡」- Get In Touch
But consumers can ask and can get in touch with brands...
- 「照顧」- Take Care Of
I'm sorry I'm not there to take care of you.