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China: Around The Nation

Chinese pensioner collects, sells rubbish to pay students’ fees

Ex-soldier, 86, says he is full of motivation to help poorer students struggling to meet their tuition costs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2018, 2:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2018, 4:11pm

A retired Chinese soldier has helped four college students with their tuition fees after spending years collecting rubbish and discarded items to sell, Mirror Evening News reported.

Eighty-six year old Wang Kunsen, who lives in Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, is well-known in his community for his routine over the past five years of riding on his bicycle at about midnight looking for scavenged goods.

“It’s true that I only get very little money from scavenging, but I’m already quite old and no one would employ me. If I want to help people, I can only earn some money by doing this,“ Wang was quoted as saying.

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Wang, who retired in 1993, said he got the idea of helping poor students after he saw a photograph years ago of a child who could not afford to go to school.

In 2012, he was referred to an undergraduate from Changshan county in Zhejiang who was struggling to pay her tuition fees. Wang decided to help and bought a bicycle to start scavenging for rubbish. He was later able to send the student 4,000 yuan (US$640) a year.

He was moved when the student sent him a photograph of her dressed in a graduation gown and thanked him for his support over the years, the report said.

This motivated Wang to support another three undergraduates from Zhejiang. Wang has sent the trio over 25,000 yuan from his work.

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The pensioner said he only went in search of discarded items at night because he did not want to “compete with real scavengers”.

He said he was usually able to send two of the students about 400 yuan each a month.