Thousands of grateful admirers showed up—some traveling across oceans—to mourn the passing of a high school principal who helped more than 10,000 underprivileged students escape poverty and attend college.
Funeral wreaths were sold out in the mountainous region of China’s Du’an Guangxi Province, as thousands took to the streets Sunday in remembrance of the educator affectionately known as “Principal Dad.”
For 37 years, Mo Zhengao, 59, relentlessly sought donations from businesses and individuals, collecting more than 30 million yuan (nearly $5 million) to benefit 18,000 students. Last year alone, 200 young adults received up to $64 in monthly donations to pay their college living expenses.
The Du’an Senior High School in Hechi is renowned in the region for sending students to elite schools in China, even though 40% of the students are impoverished.
Alumni rushed back from big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai to attend the funeral after Mo died of an illness. College students from universities as far away as Harvard sent their condolences, according to Chinese newspapers.
“Even if the (university) already waives tuition, the textbook expenses, dormitory expenses, as well as monthly living expenses, still add up to approximately 4000 yuan every year,” said the high school’s financial aid director Wei Xifeng. “Many impoverished families are unable to bear such a heavy financial burden.”
Xifeng recalled Mo’s dedication to keeping the young adults in school, “Every time a student drops out of school to return home, the principal would personally or have the teacher go to the student’s home, and bring them back.”
A champion of fighting truancy, Mo was often quoted saying, “No matter what, first come back to school, and I’ll figure a way.”
(READ the full story, w/ photos, from ChinaSmack)