SHE is only 12 years old but lives by herself. Her parents are far away and she has to take care of her younger sister. This is He Can, a junior 1 student at Anqing Jiangzhen Middle School in Anhui.

She is one of the "stay-home children" in her town. To make money, these kids' parents go to big cities to find a job. Their children have to stay home because they have to go to school.

Always moving

He's parents left home when she was only four. They only go home for Spring Festival every year. Before she finished primary school, she went to eight different schools and lived with different relatives (亲戚).

"I used to complain (埋怨)," said He. "But later I understood my parents. They have to go away to make a better life for us."

He said her frequently (频繁地) changing life also has a good side.

"When I go to a new school, I have to try to make friends," said He. "I became outgoing. Now I'm not afraid of talking to people."

He said her relatives were kind to her. They taught her how to cook and wash clothes.

When He was going to start junior high school, her parents agreed to let her live by herself. She rents a flat (房间) near school and lives with her younger sister. Sometimes He's grandmother comes over and helps them.

A good student

Every day, He gets up at 6 am. She cooks breakfast. Then the two girls go to school. They have supper at 6 pm. Then He does chores and helps her sister take a shower (洗澡). She usually goes to bed at 9:30 pm.

Though busy, He is still a top student in her class. Her secret is to never put things off until tomorrow.

"I think my life is OK," said He. "But if possible, I would like my parents to settle down (定居) and live with us."