A modern-day Lei Feng - the 'model citizen' who saved all his money to give to the poor and loved the Communist Party - is spurned by his family, friends and neighbours. They see him as mad. The life of Liu Jingwen, 53, who runs a small restaurant near the Summer Palace in northwest Beijing, is a parable of today's China, where the propaganda heroes of the Communist Party have become objects of ridicule and everyone wants to emulate the party leaders and make a fortune. Mr Liu was born to a poor farming family close to where he now works. He started work at the age of 13, shovelling manure for 18 yuan a month. 'In those days everyone loved the Communist Party so much they gave everything for it, working until one or two in the morning,' he said. He drove horse carts and raised ducks. He worked on construction sites in a six-man team that carried 80 to 90 tonnes of cement a day, and was so tired at the end he did not have the energy even to ride a bicycle. In the 1980s, his neighbours went into business, and he followed suit in 1984, opening a stall near the Summer Palace selling bread and soft drinks, from which he earned 500-600 yuan a month. With the money he bought new clothes for his two sons, which made him happy. 'I wanted to thank the state and party. Without their new policies, I would still be hungry. I wanted an opportunity to pay them back,' he said. This came in the summer of 1985, when his 80-year-old mother was watching a small black-and-white television at a neighbour's house and saw footage of floods in Henan province where PLA soldiers with bare chests held back the waters and helped the villagers. His mother was so moved she decided to give her life-savings of 5,000 yuan to the flood victims, saying she was old and would have no use for the money in her final years. Mr Liu used that money, his own life-savings of 10,000 yuan and 5,000 yuan collected from neighbours to buy clothes for the victims. 'When I was a child, I couldn't imagine the good life I have now. So I thought of those affected by the flood. Most people nowadays can't understand my feelings toward the party and the state,' he said. In 1988, he went with a PLA unit to Jinggangshan, a former revolutionary base in Jiangxi, and saw rural poverty at first hand - children with no clothes and no money to go to school. He was so moved he gave the 2,000 yuan he had in his pocket to the heads of 10 families. Later he travelled to Yanan and gave 6,000 yuan to a teacher who gave it to 20 children aged between eight and 13. Since then, he and his wife have devoted their lives to earning money for poor students in rural areas. The couple live in a home with three small rooms and no proper furniture in an area of less than 100 sq ft. They save every yuan they can and are supporting 38 poor students in the eastern province of Shandong. For this life of frugality and service, Mr Liu receives nothing but contempt and abuse. His relatives have stopped seeing him because he gives money to the poor rural students, but not to their children. His two sons are finding it hard to find wives because their father is poor, and are urging him to slow down and enjoy life. Those who run shops next door disparage him because his charity shows them up as selfish and politically 'backward'. Many customers at his small restaurant refuse to pay, saying it is a charity, not a business. A notice Mr Liu has posted on the wall outside reads: 'I do not eat as well as other people. In her more than 90 years, my mother never once ate a decent meal. My friends and relatives have cut me off. Many people call me mad or stupid. We work 70 to 80 hours a week to help poor students. Who can understand me? Who can sympathise with me?' One customer told Mr Liu: 'Except for the mentally ill, who emulates Lei Feng?'