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"Eight grandpas" top China's everyday hero list

(Xinhua)

10:06, July 21, 2012

BEIJING, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Eight aged villagers who voluntarily planted trees on karst hills in southwest China for a meager wage over the past 30 years on Friday were voted by Chinese netizens as their most inspiring everyday heroes.

The quarterly voting has been organized by Xinhua News Agency since last year to inspire moral strength in the public by highlighting the good deeds of the ordinary people. Over 100,000 Internet users cast their votes for the second quarter's event to pick out the top 10 inspiring heroes.

The other heroes include a handicapped doctor who left his family behind for rural medical work, a paralyzed girl who did not give up her college dream, a teacher who saved her students from the wheels of a bus, a doctor who refused to pocket a single bribe for 20 years, and a nurse, though beaten, blocked a mental patient from jumping off the building.

But the "eight grandpas," as they were fondly called, won the most hearts. The eight, the youngest aged 73, had been planting trees on rough karst hills in remote Yunnan province for three decades. They only received 0.7 yuan (11 U.S. cents) for a day's toil.

The grandpas' wish? To get the low-income subsidy from the local government.

The eight old men worked to plant and maintain a 7,400-mu (493 hectares) forest.

"I have been holding on all these years because someone told me when I was young that peasants can only get rich 'when there are trees on the hills and roads down the hills,'" said Wang Xiaomiao, one of the grandpas.

"We just want to plant trees so that our village can get rich," he said.

After Xinhua broke their story, the local government gave each of the eight men a 60,000 yuan subsidy and promised medical and other help if needed.

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