A Taiwan woman, a leper village, a story of love
Thu, Feb 24, 2011
China Daily/Asia News Network

"It was a dark corner which has been deliberately forgotten by the outside world," Zhang Pingyi said slowly.

Although 11 years had gone by, Zhang Pingyi still clearly remembered the scene when she first arrived at Dayingpan village, also known as "leper village" in Southwest China's Sichuan province, China Youth Daily reported on Wednesday.

Zhang Pingyi, once was a journalist in Taiwan, first entered this lost village, a poor Yi ethnic village situated in indigent Yuexi county inside Sichuan province, 11 years ago for an interview.

In 1959, in order to control the spread of leprosy, the Yuexi government decided to designate a village for the treatment of lepers. Since then, Dayingpan has been known as "leper village" and "invisible village" and isolated from outside for 40 years.

When seeing a leper patient crawling on the ground and the children there who were no longer lepers but with nothing to do, she decided to try her best to help the village build a new school for the children. After coming back to Taiwan, She wrote articles and books as well as convinced potential funders to provide financial aid for the school.

In 2002, under her endeavor, the school was finally erected.

However, it was just a beginning. Zhang had to ceaselessly persuade the parents there to let the children give up herding sheep and begin study. Since that, Zhang gave up her high-paying job and wealthy life in Taiwan in 2003 and begin her arduous life in the "ghost village."

In the first days, she even had to teach the children how to wash their face, brush teeth and have a bath as well as maintain personal hygiene.

For Zhang Pingyi, the children are just her children and she likes to be close to them despite the risk she may be bitten by fleas.

For her efforts, the school now has over 100 graduated students and it also attracts many students in neighboring villages.

In order to help the children find jobs, she also "forces" her brother in Tsingtao to provide vocational and technical training to the young people who want to work.

Many of her friends in Taiwan do not understand why she is so crazy to travel to a "leper village" and live there. But for Zhang Pingyi, in this small village, she seems to commission with the important task.

"I'm a mother. When seeing the children in the leper village, I can not turn away," Zhang Pingyi said.

-China Daily/Asia News Network

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