When mending roads becomes a weekend hobby

Updated: 2012-10-31 10:57

By Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei (China Daily)

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When mending roads becomes a weekend hobby

Sun Xiancai spends a weekend mending a mountain road in Luquan Yi and Miao autonomous prefrecture, in Yunnan province. Provided to China Daily

Sun Xiancai, 48, is a tax collector in Luquan Yi and Miao autonomous prefecture, in Yunnan province. In the past 26 years, one activity occupies all his spare time - mending roads. Every weekend, Sun leaves home for the mountains, armed with hoes and a bamboo basket filled with tools.

Living in the mountainous region of Yunnan, Sun says the roads - mostly narrow and built simply with mud - become soggy and slippery especially after a heavy downpour and are thus very dangerous.

"I learned the skills of mending roads from my father and grandfather. It has become my family's tradition and I enjoy doing it to help fellow villagers," says Sun, adding that since he was a little boy, he has observed his father and grandfather repairing his village's roads and building bridges as a voluntary deed. "That had a great influence on me," he adds.

Sun says his family regards building bridges and mending roads for people as the most important of all good deeds. In his family, all the children were taught to do good for others. "My grandfather often said to us that although we don't get paid, doing good brings the greatest happiness," Sun says.

In 1986, Sun became a tax collector in the town of Malutang. He soon noticed that the town's unpaved roads turned muddy and slippery after the rain, which prompted him to pick up his shovel and tools to do the voluntary deed during weekends.

In 2004, Sun was transferred to Luquan prefecture. The residents there like to carry water from a hill named Matougou, 2 km south of the county. The mountainous road is so narrow and steep that many have fallen and hurt themselves.

When Sun learned about it, he picked up his tools again to indulge in his weekend hobby. He expanded the road to 1 meter wide and gave it a new surface. His hard work paid off - after that, very few people fell when walking along that road again. To expedite the work, Sun even hired workers and paid from his own pocket.

But this good Samaritan did not boast of his actions. His voluntary deeds were unknown until November 2009, when a retired official Zhang Xunchen met Sun in Matougou while he was fetching water from the mountain.

"I've seen him many times on my way to collect water," says Zhang, who later spread the word about Sun's good deeds to the media.

Sun says he is not stopping yet. "I will continue my family's tradition of building roads and bridges for the convenience of others," Sun says with a shy smile.

Contact the writers through guoanfei@chinadaily.com.cn.