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Volunteer teacher helps poverty-stricken area build 3 bridges

(People's Daily Online)    15:58, September 21, 2016

Group photo of Cao Liyong (back row, second from left) with his student in front of a bridge he helps building. (Photo provided by Cao Liyong)

Cao Liyong, a graduate student at Sichuan University, has spearheaded efforts in Sichuan’s Daliang Mountain region to build three bridges in three years, improving the region’s infrastructure for students and locals alike.

In August 2013, Cao became a volunteer teacher in Zhaojue County, Sichuan province. Pingxiang Central School, where Cao worked, is in the Daliang Mountain area. Because of a lack of transportation, 50 students from the village of Wabuguli were forced to walk over one hour along the rugged mountain road to attend school every day. In the rainy season, students had to wade across a river where the water came up to their chests.

Observing the situation, Cao made up his mind to build a bridge for the students. However, he had neither the money nor technology to do so. Cao soon asked for help from the teachers and students at Sichuan University. Civil engineering majors came to the scene to perform a field survey, and Cao raised over 10,000 RMB through a crowdfunding website. Meanwhile, many of the villagers volunteered to help with the labor. In less than a month, an 8-meter-long, 2-meter-wide concrete bridge was in place.

Later, Cao decided to renovate a 70-meter-long suspension bridge, which was also part of the route students took to get to school. The shabby bridge had not been repaired for many years. However, the money required for that project was over 100,000 RMB, which couldn’t be raised through crowdfunding alone. Fortunately, an entrepreneur in Shenzhen learned of Cao’s plan and organized a donation drive to collect funds for the bridge renovation. With the help of many kind-hearted people, the bridge renovation was able to be completed.

In the summer of 2014, Cao finished his term as a volunteer teacher and returned to the university. However, he never forgot his students. Last year, he went back to visit the village and learned that another suspension bridge had been destroyed in a flood, forcing students to walk an additional 5 kilometers to get to school every day. Cao communicated the situation to his university and, under the direction of the school, two charity organizations donated funds to rebuild the bridge. In July, the new bridge was finished.

Like his former students, Cao was also born in a poor village. He said his parents believe that only education can change a person’s destiny, so they tried their best to send all three of their children to college.

“Whenever I looked those children, I always thought about my childhood. From my heart, I want to help them learn and rise out of poverty,” Cao said. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kong Defang, Bianji)

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