In 1987, a 74-year old rickshaw puller by the name of Bai Fangli wanted to retire and came back to his home town.
He saw children working in the fields, due to poverty and their parents inability to pay their school fees.
Mr Bai Fangli returned to Tianjin and went back to work as a rickshaw puller, taking a modest accommodation next to the railway station. He waited for clients 24 hours a day, ate simple food and wore discarded second-hand clothes he found. He gave all of his hard-earned earnings to support children who could not afford education.
Image: Bai Fangli at work
His daughter recalls “He suffers throughout his life, saving on food and drinks, stitching his torn pants over and over again. When you throw away his old pants and buy new ones for him, not only that he does not want to wear them but he also gets angry.”
Video: Story of Bai Fangli on CCTV News
When the elder peddles trishaw, his clothes, shoes and hates all do not match, as if he is a beggar.
“I had never bought any clothes before. You see, the clothes that I wear are all picked up from the clothes people threw away. Look at my shoes, they are different, even the socks inside are different! The same applies to my hat; it was also collected from dump sites.” he said. His family members who could not resist looking him like that have advised him but to no avail. In response to that, he simply picked up a bun and said to his children
“What is so hard about this? This bun is the product of the farmers’ hard work. People throw it away; I pick it up and eat it; isn’t this a way to reduce wastage?”
In 2001, he drove his rickshaw to Tianjin YaoHua Middle School, to deliver his last installment of money. Nearly 90 years old, he told the students that he couldn’t work any more. All of the students and teachers were moved to tears. In total, Bai had donated a total of 350,000 yuan to help more than 300 poor students continue with their studies.
Somebody attempted to find the list of students sponsored by Mr. Bai but he only found a photograph of him with a few children, and that is the only photograph ever taken. When asked about what he expected of the children, his humble reply was “I only want them to study hard, get a good job, be a good person and to give back to the country.”
In 2005, Bai passed away leaving behind an inspiring legacy.
If a rickshaw puller can support 300 children to go to school, imagine what you and I can do with the resources we have to bring about positive change in our world!
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