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Inspiring mountain teacher receives his wish

By (chinadaily.com.cn)

Tributes have been paid in Bading of Dahua Yao autonomous county to a rural teacher who recently passed away, with the near completion of the very first road leading to the remote village.

Meng Zhinian, 46, passed away in July this year, after a long battle with illness. He was a dedicated teacher working in the area for 27 years, who each day would have to walk on rough forest paths around three mountains to teach his students.

Bading is such a remote mountainous hamlet in Yalong town that it didn't have direct access by road, with villagers having to walk for more than an hour to reach the nearest road.

From the age of 17 Meng worked at what is known as the Bading teaching spot, set up for lower elementary students to prepare them to enter a nearby school. Even so, some of them still have to climb one or two mountains to reach. It's one of the most difficult and faraway teaching spots in Yalong.

Inspiring mountain teacher receives his wish

Students stand outside the Bading teaching spot in Dahua Yao autonomous county. [Photo by Nong Guanbin/Xinhua News Agency]

At that time there was no running water in the village and Meng would struggle to carry water to the school, recalled his former student Wei Jianzhen, 38. "He was so young at that time, even two small buckets of water were too heavy for Mr Meng to carry. It usually took him more than an hour to complete the two-kilometer journey."

Meng lived five kilometers from Bading, in the neighboring Wenhe village, and despite developing gout, continued to walk to school through the pain each day.

"He said that he was not sure how much longer he could walk through the mountains each day," said Meng's wife Wei Yueji. "He wanted to leave but felt pity for the children."

Wei said that the opening of the new road would have been something that her husband would have really wanted.

According to Wei Yuyang, headmaster of the Wenhe Primary School who also supervises the Bading teaching spot, Meng Zhinian had once been transferred out of Bading for two years, but his two successors only held out for a short time

Meng was the only teacher at the Bading teaching to provide lessons in Chinese and Maths to lower elementary students. He even prepared lunch for the children.

Inspiring mountain teacher receives his wish

A file photo of Meng Zhinian and his students at the Bading teaching spot in Yalong town, Dahua Yao autonomous county, Guangxi.[Photo/www.news.cn]

Wei Rongzhan, president of the Yalong town's central primary school, paid tribute to Meng's long-time dedication.

"As a teacher in the poverty-stricken mountain area, it's not easy to achieve job accomplishments," Wei said. "Given the limited resources he had, Meng did the best he could for his students."

Besides teaching, Meng was also ready to lend a helping hand to other local villagers in need. "People here are used to having Mr Meng around," said Meng's former student Wei. "Without him, I wouldn't even know how to withdraw money from a bank."

In late February, Meng handed in a written request to Wei Yuyang for leave of absence due to stomach pain – his first days off in three years.

Despite returning to work, the state of Meng's illness worsened and his passed away in July at the age of just 46.

Once passing the construction of the 5.58-km road, Meng commented to his wife that one day he'd like to buy a car and drive to work.

The impression that Meng had on his small remote community is felt in every corner, and the new road will only serve as a fitting memory of his spirit and dedication.

Inspiring mountain teacher receives his wish

A student reads aloud at the Bading teaching spot in Yalong town, Dahua Yao autonomous county, Guangxi, Sept 7. [Photo by Zhou Hua/Xinhua News Agency]

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Hechi is located in the northwestern part of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and the southern foothills of the Yungui Plateau.