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Mr big mama

By Xu Junqian | China Daily | Updated: 2013-12-03 12:54

Mr big mama

Hamid Dehghani hopes his volunteer job as the residential committee director can help improve Yiwu. Gao Erqiang/China Daily

My China Dream | Hamid Dehghani

Hamid Dehghani is an Iranian man. But Chinese would refer to his job title as "big mama" (dama), or "auntie".

Mr big mama

From Cape Town to Pole City 

Mr big mama

Yaks for haute couture 

The 48-year-old, who heads a trade company, has voluntarily worked for a decade in Zhejiang province's Yiwu in a capacity traditionally occupied by elderly - stereotypically domineering - Chinese women, hence the literal translation of his post. He's heavily involved in community affairs. His job as a residential committee director often involves arbitrating disputes among neighbors.

Dehghani shows up to diffuse arguments between couples who keep neighbors awake in the wee hours. And he speaks to residents who discourteously park their cars in places that block local traffic. And he shows residents fire extinguishers' locations.

Rather than consider himself a "big mama" or residential committee director, Dehghani thinks of his position as that of "minister in the alley". He believes his gig is "as important as the secretary-general of the United Nations".

The UN analogy is apt in terms of multiculturalism. Yiwu's proportion of foreign residents, mostly businesspeople, exceeds even Shanghai's and Beijing's.

The Yiwu Public Security Bureau's Exit-Entry Administration Bureau's figures show that 417,000 expatriates were doing business in the city at the end of 2012.

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