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Pay it forward

By  Wang Zhenghua  (China Daily)

10:27, June 28, 2012

Zhou Xiaoli trains children with cerebral palsy and learning difficulties at her rehabilitation center in Yiwu, Zhejiang province. (China Daily/Zhang Jiancheng)

Seemingly destined to lead a life of comfort, Zhou Xiaoli has taken the road less traveled to open a children's rehabilitation center. Wang Zhenghua reports in Shanghai.

Zhou Xiaoli was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. The eldest daughter of a multimillionaire businessman in East China, appeared to have her life paved out for her. After high school, she was to inherit her family's color printing business in Zhejiang province's Yiwu. But instead of leading a comfortable life, Zhou took the road less traveled and started a rehabilitation center for cerebral palsy children.

In the last 10 years, hundreds of kids, who can hardly walk, talk, eat or play, have passed through her hands.

The 33-year-old woman recently shot to fame after her story - providing free rehabilitation services to children from poverty-stricken families - was widely circulated online.

She has been hailed as the "most beautiful rich second generation".

"It's no big deal. I just do what is within my ability," Zhou says of the media coverage about her.

But there has also been bad publicity with some micro-bloggers alleging that Zhou's center is in the red because of its long-term charity initiatives, which she quickly denies.

"My center is not facing any financial crisis," Zhou says, adding that she does not need social donors or financial assistance. She says it was never her intention to make a profit from helping these children.

"We will appreciate it if someone brings some snacks and toys when they visit these children. The kids will be happy and that's good enough," she says.

Zhou was born in 1979 to a family that got rich from its color printing business after reform and opening-up in the late 1970s.

Unlike her younger sister who made it to a renowned university, Zhou failed the National College Entrance Examination and started working at her parent's company after senior high school.

Her life journey was altered when her younger brother, born in 1996, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

To help the young boy live a normal life, Zhou's parents traveled all over China seeking treatment. But even after all their efforts, the boy could not stand up.

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