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The 'low profile' donor who never counted her charitable deeds

By Yang Cheng in Tianjin | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-11 10:30
Wang Ya, the late Tianjin resident. CHINA DAILY

During a memorial ceremony at the Lingtai No 1 Middle School in remote Pingliang county in Northwest China's Gansu province, student Ren Zhixi said he would not fail to live up to the hopes of the late Wang Ya.

Ren was among 150 students at the school to join a ceremony in memory of Wang on March 24.

The ceremony, which was organized by the Xinghua Foundation, marked Wang's last donation to the school students, amounting to 30,000 yuan ($4,460), before she passed away on Feb 16.

Wang, an engineer at the Tianjin branch of the State Grid Corp, had been committed to charity work since the late 1980s. She passed away at the age of 67.

In memory of Wang's efforts, employees at the State Grid Tianjin Power Company donated a total of 1.57 million yuan on April 3 to help support 150 senior middle school students complete their studies.

Before she passed away, Wang expressed her intention to donate her body to the Tianjin Red Cross Foundation for medical research.

Last year, when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she decided not to receive the expensive treatment, and donated all her savings as well as her apartments to the Xinghua Youth Education Foundation - a nonprofit organization initiated by a late Tsinghua University professor and dedicated to helping students in need in Gansu province.

"I have been committed to doing kind deeds during my lifetime, and have donated all my lifetime savings and properties to society and helped numerous students in need. I feel delighted and have no regrets throughout my life," Wang wrote in her will, which was notarized last year by a local public notary office.

Chen Zhangwu, one of the staff members at the foundation, said, "Wang was a very 'low profile' donor to the foundation."

Last year, CCTV interviewed the foundation and hoped to speak to major donors, but Wang refused to join in.

After much persuasion from the foundation's workers, she finally decided to attend the recording of the program but insisted on only sitting in the audience, and not on stage with the television host to publicize her charitable deeds.

Wang began donating in the late 1980s.

In 1989, she donated her first 100 yuan to Project Hope, China's top charity project to help students in poverty.

Thereafter, she donated to the Tianjin Poverty Relief Foundation, China Education Development Foundation among many other organizations.

Whenever she found a piece of news or a source for donation, Wang would always contact them.

During the past 30 years, nobody knows the actual sum of her donations and she herself had never counted.

"However, she was extremely frugal to herself," her colleague Zhao Ying said. "Every time she went to the market, she would select the cheapest vegetables for herself.

"She always said she would help the one in need."

Last year, she bought the most expensive television in her life, to replace an old one she had used for more than 20 years, at a price of about 2,000 yuan - a very cheap price for a television set.

She bought her most expensive mobile phone in 2016 at a price of 1,600 yuan, because her old one could not connect to the outside world in the smartphone era.

"Her clothes and bags were always less than 100 yuan each," Zhao said.

However, her generosity never failed to reach the needy in drought-, flood - and earthquake-stricken areas around the country.

After Wang passed away, a community volunteer went to her home and found some letters unfolded on her desk.

In one letter, seven students from Gansu wrote to her as follows:

"My dearest grandmother Wang, your selfless spirit impresses us all. You are the sun shining over the land that warms our hearts. You have used all your lifelong savings during your lifetime to sponsor poor students and we feel enormously grateful for your donations. We are determined to study hard to pay back to the country and society, and we will never fail to live up to your hopes! We will carry forward your spirit in our lives!"

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