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[People] Ill businessman aims to build 10 schools
Latest Updated by 2007-04-30 11:23:16

A CANCER-STRICKEN Hong Kong businessman hopes to build 10 schools for children in poor rural areas before he dies and has pledged to leave his factory in Bao'an District to employees rather than his family.

Cheng Ming, 53, saw the first Project Hope school that he sponsored open in impoverished Bijie, Guizhou Province, in August last year.

Preparations are under way for his second Project Hope school, also in Guizhou, according to local Chinese media reports.

He had hoped to build 100 schools before he turned 75, but unfortunately in August 2005 he was diagnosed in Hong Kong with intestinal cancer.

Before undergoing an operation in September 2005, Cheng made the decision to leave his factory to employees after his death and launch the school project immediately.

"I hope to see 10 schools built before I leave this world. I have no time to wait," the businessman said.

The first school was built in a small village in Guizhou last year with 300,000 yuan (US$38,400) he provided. It benefits some 150 children, who earlier had to walk miles to attend school.

Born in Shanghai in the 1950s, Cheng had been sent to a labor camp in Inner Mongolia and Anhui as an "educated youth" at the age of 15 during the "Cultural Revolution."

"The seven years spent at the grassland and in rural Anhui Province were the 'first bucket of gold' in my life. It was freezing cold in winter and scorching hot in summer. I had to drink horse urine to soothe my thirst out in the grassland. The tough life taught me perseverance in face of difficulty," he recalled.

In 1979, he move to Hong Kong to live with his mother, where he worked as a plumber and a domestic helper. He taught himself Cantonese, English and engineering in his spare time.In 1989, he became the manager of a Hong Kong-invested factory in Shajin, Bao'an District.

At the age of 45, Cheng opened his own electrical machinery plant in Bao'an, where he treated his employees like his own family. He spent 2 million yuan building a soccer field, a table tennis room, a library and other facilities to enrich their lives. He launched an emergency fund to help employees in need. He also built a small garden for young couples to spend their leisure time.

With his encouragement, more than 1,000 of his employees joined a volunteer group in Bao'an to help more people.

Cheng visited Inner Mongolia in 2002, taking along clothes, food and money after a strong snowstorm hit the area.

So far, 259 poor dropouts have returned to school in Inner Mongolia and Guizhou with his help.

Editor: Wing

By:Li Dan Source:Szdaily web edition
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