Reporting tragic events can be extremely depressing, but SCMP reporter Choi Chi-yuk says the occasional good it brings makes it all worthwhile. One story he wrote helped fund a year of education for a poor, dangerously overworked girl. In the rural county of Yizheng, Choi was shocked to meet 11-year-old Tan Yuke who laboured at a hazardous fireworks factory to pay for her school entrance fee. Yuke had to work overtime in the illegal sweat shop to make up for the time lost during the February snowstorm that paralysed the area. It was one of the deadliest workplaces in the world. The week before Choi wrote the story, four villagers in Foshan were injured after more than 15,000 cartons of fireworks exploded, triggering tremors of 1.1 on the Richter scale. On April 6, 2001, 41 primary pupils - being forced to make fireworks to pay for their school fees - were killed in a huge explosion that reduced the buildings to rubble in Wanzai, Jiangxi province . Just before Choi wrote the story, the area in Hunan province endured the worst blizzard in a decade. Yuke and hundreds of other children suffered frostbite to their hands. Choi wrote, 'Despite mainland laws clearly forbidding factories to hire under-age workers, it is common for children in poverty-stricken Yizheng county to work in fireworks plants, which need workers with nimble fingers to join fuses to explosives.' The frostbite meant Yuke and her friends couldn't work. 'Ever since she was seven years old,' Choi wrote, 'Yuke has been making firecrackers from dawn to dusk every weekend and during the summer and winter holidays. The money she made went towards her education and to help her family. 'Her parents are casual workers at a fireworks plant in Yizheng and each earns 20 yuan (HK$22.80) a day by fitting fuses to about 32,000 firecrackers. To achieve that, they have to work without rest from 7am until 6pm.' Yuke was hounded by the end of the Lunar New Year, rushing to make enough fireworks to earn her money before demand tailed off. The story prompted a flood of concerned letters from Hongkongers, expressing their anger and asking for ways to help. As a result, the newspaper pooled together enough money to help Yuke's family, which Choi personally delivered. The donation helped fund an entire year's worth of school fees. 'For many tragic incidents I find the poor suffer the most,' he says. 'They are eager to tell me their stories because often, mainland newspapers won't report them. 'Her mother promised me she won't send Yuke to the factory anymore.' Several social service enterprises in Hunan approached the girl's family after reading the story. 'Generally, most poor people I've met there are very simple and pure,' Choi says. 'They are delighted with the little help they receive, which makes my job very satisfying.' Perhaps this explains why Choi, a chemistry major from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has been a journalist for 10 years.