A retired teacher helps build 30 schools in impoverished areas

Online Town 2020: 12: 24.14: 06

Retired teacher Zhou Xiufang, 72, has spared no effort in raising funds for the past five years to build 30 primary schools in the poverty-stricken areas of Hunan and Guizhou provinces. [Foto: CCTV]

Por Ma Zhenhuan

Guizhou, 12/24/2020 (The People Online) –Retired teacher Zhou Xiufang, 72, over the past five years has spared no effort in raising funds to build 30 primary schools in the poverty-stricken areas of Hunan and Guizhou provinces.

In 2014, Zhou, who was born in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, had just retired and learned that a school in Huishui County, Guizhou, was recruiting teachers. She immediately applied for a position and was accepted.

Because of her experiences, Zhou longed to help children from impoverished families get a good education.

“My family was poor,” he remembers. “One of my teachers helped me and paid my education fees, thanks to that gesture I did not drop out of school. I was a lucky girl who was able to continue her studies.”

The fundraising idea came to Zhou in March 2015 when she volunteered to teach at an elementary school in Tonglin Village, Xupu, Hunan.

She was surprised to find that the school’s facilities consisted of three mud houses without glass windows, aqueduct or electricity. A dozen children studied overcrowded during the winter in a small classroom with only three small electric heaters.

To start raising funds, Zhou published a report on the dilapidated state of the school, which was read by one of his former students, Zhang Gang, who came to visit the school and was moved by the difficult situation. Zhang donated more than 300,000 renminbi ($ 45,800). In this way, the Hongsheng Project Hope Elementary School, named after Zhang’s company, was rebuilt and completed in July 2015.

The Esperanza Project is supported by central authorities and has the mission of improving educational infrastructure and reducing student dropout rates in impoverished areas.

Encouraged by Zhou, many more people have offered donations to help build schools across the county.

“Construction of the Esperanza Project elementary schools in rural areas of our county is now well under way. Much is owed to Ms. Zhou,” said Yan Anmin, head of Xupu’s education office.

Zhou has also been dedicated to trying to solve the county’s teacher shortage, pressuring education authorities to hire more qualified teachers. It has also facilitated cooperation between the county bureau of education and the Yinzhou district in Ningbo for the exchange of students and teachers.

His work has been supported by charities in Ningbo and Zhejiang. The Yinzhou District Popular Education Fund in Ningbo launched a special fund for Zhou and allocated 2.5 million renminbi (US $ 381,785) as seed capital.

To date, Zhou has helped build 30 primary schools, and more than 400 poor children have received or are receiving an education supported by funds and donations totaling 35 million renminbi.

Zhou has also used his 7,000 renminbi monthly pension to help poor students and their families.

One of his students, Zhang Zige, had difficulty learning due to eye problems. His impoverished family depended on the grandparents at home for financial support. Understanding their plight, Zhou handed them 5,000 yuan and took Zhang to see an ophthalmologist.

Zhou lives a frugal life. It often feeds on rice and pickles. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Your surgeon has insisted that you need knee replacement surgery, otherwise you will risk spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair. However, upon learning that the transaction costs 60,000 renminbi, he immediately rejected it.

“It is too expensive for me,” he said.

Despite the bleak prognosis for his rheumatoid arthritis, Zhou believes he is improving.

“It doesn’t hurt so much when I walk or have to buy a wheelchair. I’ve even gotten rid of my cane,” he assured with a beaming smile. “As long as my knees allow me, I’ll keep going.”

(Web editor: Zhou Yu, Zhao Jian)

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