On December 12th, a 93-year-old
Tianjinese was selected as one of the 20 candidates for the âPeople
Who Moved Chinaâ 2005 award. When his name, photo and activities were
broadcast with those of Yuan Longping, Liu Xiang and Ren Changxia on
CCTV, the whole country was moved ââ it was very difficult for general
public to connect the 350,000 RMB donation with an old and thin person
who lay paralyzed in bed.
âAn old man, a pedicab, 350,000
RBM donation, 300 poor studentsâŠâŠâ when all these words are connected
together, the difficulty, misunderstanding, persistence and charitable
love of an old manâs life was unrolled before the eyes of general
This generous old man was Bai Fangli.
In Daoism, it said that a great
brightness seems like darkness; a great square has no corners; a great
ability takes a long time to perfect; a great sound is hard to hear; a
great form has no shape. It also said that a great perfection seems
flawed; a great fullness seems empty; a great straightness seems
crooked; a great skill seems clumsy and a great eloquence seems
Bai Fangli led a simple
lifestyle. He never took pride in honor; never explained away
misunderstandings and never showed arrogance before admiration. Maybe,
in the eyes of ordinary people, what he demonstrated could be called âââ
A turning point: at 74 years old, he started on another road.
âMoney is needed for students
to go to school, money is needed for schools to maintain teachers and
money is needed to rebuild old classroomsâŠâŠâ
While Baiâs food simply
consisted of a fried bun with green Chinese onion and soy sauce along
with a bowl of wontons, he began to aid education in 1987, when he was
74 years old. In that year, Bai came back to his hometown in Changxia
County, Hebei Province as he prepared to retire and say goodbye to his
pedicab. A group of children working in the field aroused his attention.
Later, he learned that these children did not go to school because they
lacked the financial resources rather than that they were naughty. The
school was unable to collect tuition, and without money, it was unable
to maintain the teachers and without teachers, how could the students
learn? âMoney is needed for students to go to school, money is needed
for schools to maintain teachers and money is needed to rebuild old
classroomsâŠâŠâ These thoughts keps the old man awake at night. He
remembered that he, himself, left Tianjin because of poverty; and now
decades later, his hometown was still poor. How could this next
generation change their lives without education? Do we keep watching
todayâs children remain illiterates like their forefathers?
As soon as he returned to
Tianjin, Bai went back to work. He rode his pedicab once more and
donated his pension of 5000 RMB to aid education. At the age of 74 years
old, he began pedaling another road.
Stubbornness: love, frustration was carried by the little pedicab.
âlet him to do it If only he feels happy. If he does not like it, he will return to a comfortable life.â
are so old and you have sons and daughters, why donât you stay at home
to enjoy a relaxing life since you have worked so hard and not had an
easy life until now.â His children try to persuade him.
âI have strength to do it, and
it makes me happy to earn money for the students by driving my pedicab.â
Bai was continued to be stubborn, even in his old age.
At that time, Bai went out in
the early morning and wouldnât return until after 11 pm, summer and
winter. Daily, his children worried about him and waited for him at the
door. They wouldnât rest until they saw their old father return back.
However, no matter how they tried to persuad him, the father turned a
deaf ear to them. Sometimes, they tried to stop him, Bai persisted in
his decision. In the end, the family gave up: âlet him to do it If only
he feels happy. If he does not like it, he will return to a comfortable
life.â Therefore, by driving a pedicab, the old man earned money to make
one donation after another to organizations like the Reward Fund for
Teachers in Tianjin Primary and Middle High School, China Youth
Development Fund and Childrenâs Palace in Hebei District, Tianjin.
A Record: Donating money earned with sweat and toil by driving a pedicab.
âThe money donated by Grandpa Bai was full of sweat and toil, and we cannot let him downâ
On September 1st, the
government rewarded Bai Fangli the plaque of âModel Citizen of
Supporting Educationâ in Daguangting Township, Chuangxian County, Hebei
Later on, to increase his
effort to assist students in need, Bai moved to a simple room near the
Eastern Tianjin Railway Station. At that time, he waited for clients 24
hours a day, ate simple food and wore discarded second-hand clothes he
found. His donations were sent to poor students in Hongguang Middle High
School, Nankai University, Tianjin University.
When he first started donating
funds, Bai did not ask for receipts. In his opinion, the receipts were
useless if his donations were necessary. However, the beneficiary
organizations recorded his donations clearly. âThe money donated by
Grandpa Bai was full of sweat and toil, and we can not let him down.â
For this, the recipient organizations paid great importance to funds
received from Bai. Besides recording the use of the donations, they also
held a ceremony to distribute Baiâs donations. During the ceremony, Bai
was able to see the students accept his donation and heard them report
on their studies. This gave Bai great comfort, especially when he heard
the school say: âyou must not waste your grandpa Baiâs money, which was
earned by driving pedicab. But if you study well and grow up healthily,
please donât worry about money, your grandpa will earn money for your
tuition and other school fees.â
Bai drove his pedicab for 56
years and sponsored education for 18 years. During this time, the
pedicab, his comrade in arms, accompanied him through rains and winds.
Now, please take a rest when you tired and let the pedicab also take a
rest for a while.
Frustration: Persistence, there are so many students waiting for help.
âhe is a common person, he also has concerns and at times confusion. â
Bai had adhered to his
conviction for decades, and what is the power that supported him to
overcome difficulties, misunderstandings and disagreements? Yang Junye,
the head of Tianjin Association of self-employed individuals said that
Bai was simple and noble person; he had no selfish reason for aiding
education. Yang Junyu was 20 years younger than Bai, but he was his âold
leaderâ and âfriend of different generationsâ. On the long journey of
supporting and aiding education, Bai would tell Yang what confused him.
âBai is a stubborn person; he will stick to his commitments once he has
made decision. But he is also a common person; he also has concerns and
at times confusion.â
In 1998, to follow municipal
policy, Bai stopped his education support company, dismissed the
workers, sold out the companyâs properties. He then donated the 20,000
RMB to several schools. âOne day, I heard a person calling me at the
eastern railway station; I turned around and found it was a thin old
man. After a moment, I recognized it was Bai. He was so thin that his
shape had changed a lot. He told me: âthe company is closed, but I am
not willing to go. I had not eaten for several days and I can not
support the students. I donât want to live. â What Bai said surprised
Yang deeply. He took him to his home and consoled him: âit is right for
you to aid the education and it is also right for you to follow the
municipal policy. I support you, but you must open your mind. I will
find reporters to report what you did and so everyone will learn from
you. You should promise me that you will live to be 100 years old.â Bai
opened his mind and found the hope âââ there are so many students still
waiting for help. He determined to be the model for others follow. How
could he stop at that time?
Concern: Supporting Education, the road to be walked on.
âAs I recovered, I will continue to support education.â
Every time when Bai delivered a donation to Hongguang Middle High School, the students would wished he would stay longer.
Reports about Baiâs deeds in
supporting education were growing. He won many rewards and attended more
and more gatheringsâŠâŠ however, since there was no aid for Education
Company, his road to support education became more difficult. The
company had closed, but he continued to stay in the simple room and
accumulated his money cent by cent. As the cents cumulated to hundred
RMB, he would wrap them in strings and deliver them to the schools. At
that time, he did not know how long he manages to keep doing this. In
2000, he fell from his pedicab and injured his arm. However, he did not
go to the hospital but instead continued to drive pedicab to earn money.
In the end, his daughter persuaded and accompanied him to check out his
arm at hospital. It turned out he wasnât supposed to move his arm due
to a bone fracture.
It was then impossible for him
to drive the pedicab because of his physical condition âââ and he had to
stop his work to aid education. However, he was missed the students and
thought: âI will continue this work when I am healed.â
Eternity: Love will continue promoted by the model.
âyou have led a hard life, and we should return the service to you since you are so old.â
His aid of education deeds attracted many students to visit him.
During his period of supporting
education, Bai also made donations to Tianjian Resthome. When festivals
or holidays came, he would send the resthome his hundred RMB donation
to console the old people. In 2000, he at last said goodbye to his
pedicab and went to the home for rest. The Tianjin Resthome arranged a
high grade room for him and appointed special staff to take care of him.
People said: âyou have led a hard life, and now you are so old that we
must return the service to you. It is also convenient for students to
The condition in resthome was
good and the staff was very kind, but Bai found it difficult to have
others serve him. He always telling the staff: âyou take a rest, I can
look after myself.â He thought that he was troubling othersââââI have
not done anything, and the government paid me attention and brought me
here, now I trouble you to take care of me. I might as well go home.â
So, with his persistence, he moved to the house of his daughter, Bai
After going home, he did not
stop working; he found reports about him in various media and arranged
them into a handbook. When students came to see him, he would show it to
them and educate them. He told them to study well and use their talents
in future to support their country. His words were simple, but like
seeds, they were planted in the hearts of the students. By now, many
students supported by him were supporting other poor students.