Chinese Street Cleaner Donates Most of His Money to Impoverished Children

A 58-year-old street cleaner in China has been hailed as a hero after it was reported that he has donated over 180,000 yuan ($27,000) to dozens of poor children in the last 30 years, despite earning a monthly salary of just 2,000 yuan ($300).

Mr. Zhao, a street cleaner from Shenyang, in China’s northeast Liaoning Province, leads a very frugal lifestyle. Most of his meals consist of simple boiled noodles, he hasn’t bought new clothes in about 30 years, and he and his family live in a very modest house. Even though he earns just 2,000 yuan per month, he could probably have  much more comfortable life if he didn’t give most of his income away. Coming from humble beginnings himself, Zhao known all about poverty, so he has dedicated the last three decades of his life to helping impoverished children, while also taking care of his own family.

Zhao’s father died when he was very young, and his mother suffered from mental problems, so he relied on the kindness of others throughout most of his childhood. He knows all about poverty and helplessness, but also remembers the kindness of his villagers and “eating from 100 families”, and that’s what makes him so dedicated to paying this kindness forward and helping other helpless children. His family didn’t understand him at first, and many people still don’t get how he can donate most of his modest salary, but he knows he’s doing the right thing.

The 58-year-old street cleaner and his family used to live in their own house, but he decided to sell it a few years back, so now they live in a rented one. Zhao’s wife gave him a hard time about it at the time, and constantly asked him why he was giving money to strangers when their own family barely had enough to get by. So he took her to a mountain village to see the children he was donating money to and the conditions they lived in so she could understand his reasons. She hasn’t once argued with him about it since.

“I used to be like these children, I didn’t have enough to eat and I felt helpless,” Zhao said. “I want to help them change their destiny.”

Apart from the clothes on his back, Zhao’s most important possession is a pile of donation certificates he has acquired over 30 years. According to OMG Taiwan, he has donated over 180,000, which for a man in his position is nothing short of a fortune.

Although he has never asked for anything in return for the money he has donated over the years, Zhao’s kindness was returned last December, when he suffered a serious intestinal obstruction and had to be admitted to the hospital. His wife was away at the time, so there was no one to look after him. Luckily, the children he aided learned about his problems and came to be by his side.

Zhao is almost 60-years-old, and his difficult job is starting to take its toll on his body, but he refuses to give up, as this is the only way he can continue helping those helpless children that remind him of his own tough childhood.

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