The guy who pulled Rickshaws till 90 years of age, hardly ate a good meal, wore throw-away clothes to educate hundreds of poor children
Is it possible to live a meaningful life after retiring? Everyone expects to live a very relaxed life after retirement isn’t it? However, this was not the case for the ‘Virtuous’ Mr. Bai Fang Li. At the age of 74, he decided to continue his job as a pedicab driver; not to make money to survive, but for a very noble cause of children’s education, to financially support impoverished students; and once he started, it lasted more than ten years. He gave all of his hard-earned earnings to support children who could not afford education. By the time he was 90, he had donated more than 350,000 yuan and realized the dream of more than 300 poor students to attend school.
I really want them to study hard and sincerely to get a good job and become an honest person to give back something to the country.
In 1987, at the age of 74, when Bai Fang Li finally returned to his hometown retiring from his backbreaking rickshaw pulling job, he saw children working in the fields, because they were too poor to afford school fees. Compassionate Bai had decided to sacrifice his retirement for the betterment of these children and their future. Regardless of his old age and failing bones, he made the decision to return back to work and use the money he earned for these children’s education. His sons and daughters tried to persuade him to change his mind as they wanted him to enjoy a relaxing life. But the father turned a deaf ear to them.
Life as a pedicab driver is not easy. It is physically demanding and low paid. He consistently worked hard till 2001 without any considerable rest, sometimes 24 hours at a stretch. For two decades Bai Fang Li hardly bought any clothes or a pair of shoes for himself. His clothing was often mismatched like that of a beggar. He ate simple food and wore old and torn-up second-hand clothes to save maximum money to pay the installments of the school fees and buy education for more children.
I can hardly remember of buying any clothes for me. If you notice my clothes, you would easily identify that they all are throw-away clothes, my shoes are also different and picked up from various places, even the socks I wear inside are unalike! And my hat was also collected from dump sites.
One winter, he handed 500 yuan he kept in a lunch box to a teacher. After giving out his last sum of money he said, I cannot work anymore, I can no longer donate money to others. That was the first time in her life, his daughter Bai Jin Feng had ever heard her father saying that.
A long journey of supporting and aiding students lasted two decades. In 2005, he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Bai Fang Li passed away on September 23, 2005 at the age of 93, but his legacy will never be forgotten. Hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects to this man. He is remembered in China as a virtuous man who worked hard to provide education in his society.
Bai Fang Li proved that your grit determines what you can do; age is no barrier to make an impact. Mr. Bai Fang Li touched the hearts of millions of people by his story of selfless giving, inspiring legacy, selfless devotion, tremendous amount of wisdom and emotional support to hundreds of poor and deprived children.
You don’t need to be rich to help those in need. If a rickshaw-puller with no formal education could realize the dream of 300 children to go to school, imagine what we can do with the resources we have, to bring about positive change in our society and in the world! Love and compassion is the greatest motivation to change. Let’s be an inspiration; let’s give light to others.