Most of us feel that we haven’t earned much to get involved in any charity work. This is just a mindset and to do charity we needn’t have to be a billionaire rather our attitude matters the most. Here is an inspiring story from China where an old man who had planned to retire from his cycle rickshaw pedalling job at 74 (Let us remember Indian Govt. has stipulated 60 as retirement age!) reverting from the decision of retirement on witnessing small kids working as agriculture labourers as they were unable to bear the school fees. This old man who was all the way travelling from Tianjin locality back to his hometown in Hebei province to lead a retired life, took a U-Turn and decided to ‘Pedal’ Rickshaw for few more years, obviously not for his own family benefits but to bring back children who are out of school into the education system. Definitely readers’ curiosity to know more about this great old man Mr. Bai Fangli is addressed in this post of Kalam Fan Club.
Bai Fangli was born on May 23th May 1913 at Cang County, in Hebei Province of China. He had taken up Pedal-Rickshaw (Cycle Rickshaw) profession for livelihood and had a small family of Wife and a daughter. He pedaled cycle rickshaw relentlessly until he was 74 years old at a place called Tianjin. It was in 1986-1987 period at 74 years of age this ‘evergreen youngster’ decided to retire and lead a happy life with family back home at Hebei. His Destiny had something else written; He witnessed a huge number of children working as farm laborers on his way back home. On querying, he came to know all those children were deprived of school education as they couldn’t afford to pay school fees. Immediately Bai Fangli donated 500 Yuans (approx. 50,000 INR) that he had saved to get back those working children to the school. He didn’t stop there, he took a pledge to support the education of nearly 300 children through his earnings and returned to Tianjin and continue the only profession he was best at—Pedal the Rickshaw.
Second innings as Rickshaw Peddler
At the age of 74, Fangli started his second innings of Rickshaw driving, and he operated like a work-horse for long hours and shifts. According to local media, he has even worked 24 hours a day to accumulate money for paying school installments of underprivileged children. He had kept his lifestyle simple by eating simple food and staying at a shabby house in outskirts of Tianjin. Later he managed to open a shop near Tianjin Railway station to increase his revenue. According to China Media houses, he managed to pay the first installment of saved money to schools in the year 1996. Then he paid 35,000 yuan (approximately 3.5 Lakh INR) to local schools and universities. Some of the prominent universities like Nankai University and Yaohua High School received donations from this great old man. Chinese media approximate his total charity as 350,000 yuan (35 lakhs INR). His final donation came in the year 2001 to Yaohua High School. He retired at the age of 90 from this marathon 17 years of dedicated work for the auspicious cause of educating underprivileged kids.
Ill Health & Last Breath
May 2005, Bai Fangli was diagnosed with lung cancer and was admitted to hospital. After a trauma of 20 days, he took his last breath on 23rd September 2005.
The Chinese citizens highly regard Bai Fangli for his greatest contribution to the humanity. China Central Television-CCTV has given him prestigious Heart Touching Personality award. But the majority of Chinese Citizens are unhappy with the way CCTV treated this meritorious human. Though he used to get nominated for the ‘Heart touching personality,’ from 2004 onwards his nomination had been neglected, until 2008 he was deprived of recognition. Many Chinese vents their dissatisfaction on CCTV for being biased about powerful people and ignoring gem of a person like Bai Fangli. But students of Nankai University have to be appreciated for the respect they extended to their unsung hero by making 99 paper cranes and praying for his recovery in his last days.
Kalam Fan Club—True to its purpose of featuring ‘Incredible Humans’ and ‘Unsung Heroes’ is proud to bring out this inspiring and unbelievable story.