Determined path

Updated: 2013-07-31 13:57

By Li Yang (China Daily)

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Determined path

Zhao Xianyan helps her mother put on the traditional costume of the Yao ethnic group. Mo Jinmei / For China Daily

Zhao's parents died in an accident when she was 5.

"My foster parents treat me so well and dispel the shadow over an orphan's heart. They have encouraged me to study hard after finding I did well in my study," Zhao says, adding she had considered quitting school several times but was dissuaded by her foster parents.

Some teachers also offer a helping hand, Zhao adds. "I feel grateful to teacher Li at the education point. Whenever I recalled the image of him carrying our textbooks on his back to our mountain village from the town and walked about three hours on muddy footpath, I know no single second can be wasted in the classroom and each page of paper should be taken seriously."

Mo Jinmei, Zhao's primary school teacher who now works for Shangsi county government, says: "One big part of my job was to persuade Zhao to stay at school and give her knowledge that will change her fate. I felt she was worth my efforts."

Mo still remembers Zhao carrying several bunches of bananas to her office to thank for her concern. "I cannot imagine how she could walk for four hours on a muddy mountain path carrying the heavy fruits together with her weekly provisions. What I saw is a dark, thin, little girl standing at the door of my office, trembling out of fatigue, drenched in sweat and wearing a heartfelt smile on her face."

Zhao was enrolled in a class for girls of the Yao ethnic group in Nanping Middle School, an education program sponsored by government and private donators.

The program has been running since 2007, providing free middle school education and a living for ethnic Yao girls from Shiwan Mountains in the county.

Ling Yu, the school principal, says all teachers like teaching them because the girls are disciplined and extremely hard-working.

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