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China: Around The Nation

Thousands of Chinese internet users subscribe to live-streamed homeless rescue

Good Samaritan borrowed heavily so he could live out of second-hand car during journey through southern provinces

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 April, 2017, 3:06pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 April, 2017, 3:06pm

A man from Jiangxi is live streaming his work helping homeless people in China, and everyone is tuning in.

The 32-year-old, surnamed Tsai, amassed about 250,000 subscribers while driving across Jiangxi, Hunan, and Guangdong provinces looking for people in need, living and live streaming from his second-hand car almost daily.

In the past six months, Tsai has helped reconnect five wandering souls with their loved ones and 20 other with local agencies, mainland media reported.

The story has captured people’s attention, with the topic about his work reaching more than 1 million views on Weibo as of midday on Friday.

On Monday, Tsai helped reunite 61-year-old Li Hongfeng with his family after 11 years. Tsai discovered Li, who had been living on a bench for one or two years, on the side of a village road in Guangzhou, the Guangzhou Daily reported.

Viewers tuning in to the live stream helped track down Li’s family from the address, even though it no longer existed, and found his 80-year-old father in Hunan.

Chinese homeless man reunited with family after decade on streets

Tsai it was is stories like this that pushed him to continue what he was doing, even though he’s been spurned and even assaulted by homeless people during in his endeavours.

“I understand the pain of being separated from your family,” he said, recounting to reporters the death of his epileptic brother, who died days after going missing when Tsai was a teen.

In the process of his work, Tsai has had to make sacrifices, including borrowing 10,000 yuan (US$1,450) to buy the car he works out of, and about 30,000 yuan more for basic living costs.

Jobless Chinese couple and toddler live in tent on the streets after ID papers stolen

But live streaming has helped, with donations from viewers allowing him to now break-even for his daily costs, and devote more of his days to simply helping people.

“At first my family didn’t support my project, but after seeing me help so many people, they understand now,” he said.

While some online users criticised Tsai for seeking publicity for his work, others pointed to the donations he raised from subscribers and the solid work he had done.

“If you are actually doing good work, does it matter if you’re telling people about it?” one comment read.

“Showing off your work doesn’t matter, the most important thing is helping people,” wrote another.