A Rickshaw Driver’s Remarkable Story

In 1987,  74-year old rickshaw driver Bai Fang Li returned to his home town to retire from his backbreaking job.

However, after seeing children working in the fields and learning from his daughter that the children were too poor to attend school, he came out of retirement in order to earn money to help them.  He returned to Tianjin and went back to work as a rickshaw puller, taking modest accommodation close to the railway station where he waited for clients 24 hours a day. He ate simple food and wore an assortment of discarded second-hand clothes that he found. He gave all of his hard-earned money to support children who could not afford education.

rickshaw driver extrordinaire
Mr. Bai Fang Li contributed to finance more than 300 poor students in their tuition fees and living expenses, helping them to complete their studies.


At 82 years old, to his children’s surprise, Bai made another decision; he founded the Education Support Fund with the help of loans. His life pedalling a rickshaw continued.Xu Xiuxiang, one of the workers at Education Support Fund, said: “Bai never forgot when to give money to the schools. Each time he gave the money he felt very happy, and said he had completed his mission again.”

In 2001, Bai drove his rickshaw to Tianjin YaoHua Middle School, to deliver his last contribution. At almost 90 years of age, he told the students that he had to retire, that couldn’t pedal his rickshaw any more. During the previous fourteen years, Bai had donated a total of 350,000 yuan (56,500 USD) to help more than 300 poor students continue with their studies. A staggering amount for a rickshaw driver living in condition we would class as poverty.

Bai Fang Li passed away on September 23, 2005, leaving behind an inspiring legacy.


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Bai Fang Li – Rickshaw driver and humble philanthropist.

If a 90 year old rickshaw driver who wore used clothes and had no education can help 300 children to get through school, imagine what we can do with the resources we have to bring about positive change in our world.



I’ll leave you today with the classic song about having no regrets. I have a feeling that Bai Fang Li died without any.

Flank Street …

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Author: A.J.

I have written as far back as I can recall. Until 2011, that writing was just for me, or as rambling letters to friends and travelogues to the family. I never thought about why, or if others did similarly, and the thought of publishing never entered my head. Since I left England in 1979, I have been collecting experiences, people, and places. From the blood-soaked streets of Kampala, the polluted dust bowls of the Sahara, or the pristine ice floes of the Antarctic, I have gathered and filed them away. Some have recently squeezed through the bars of insecurity and are now at large in the pages of my first three novels. Others await their future fates.

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